F*&%! Where’d the Path Go?

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I’m confused about what comes next in life. It’s not just me. I see others struggling too. I’ve heard the following statements in just the last few weeks:

  • A friend: “I just want someone to tell me what job would be good for me.”
  • Someone thinking about changing jobs: “I’m paralyzed by a fear of a misstep.”
  • A 24-year-old: “I feel like I’ve squandered my life so far. What have I achieved?”

We worry about our place in the working world, and if we are making the right decisions (as if there is such a thing). We worry about which next step leads to the right ultimate goal. We struggle to figure out what are strengths are and how to use them. We worry that we are missing the right/best/perfect opportunity. (read more…)

No Longer the Smartest Kid in the Room

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The most blissful moment of my life was near the end of my freshman year, when my high school gave out awards for academic excellence. I won honors in three subjects—I was most proud of the English honors—and then took the cake overall: I had the highest GPA in my grade. Walking down from the bleachers, being watched by everyone, wearing a pretty dress picked out for the occasion—it was a perfect experience. Before I accepted the medal and shook hands with the principal, I thought, “This is the best I’ve ever felt.”

I felt completely validated by the external measure of accomplishment. Being best in my class bolstered my sense of self-worth. That was the pinnacle; sophomore year I had the second highest GPA, junior year, the third highest. I left high school early to go to Reed College, but once there, found I had no coping mechanisms for not being the smartest kid in the room. My classes were interesting, but I was overwhelmed and unable to cope with the amount of reading assigned. I had a nervous breakdown. I left Reed. I dabbled in community college for a bit, but after a year I dropped out altogether. Of course, too much homework wasn’t the root of my problems; the real issue was clinical depression (for which I am thankfully now medicated and therapized). Without academic success I didn’t feel anchored. (read more…)

“Do I Have it Figured Out?”

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When you grow up witnessing your dad beat your mom, does that shape what you do with your life? Saeeda Hafiz focused on school, going to college and landing good job in banking… only to realize that this wasn’t for her. She started taking cooking and yoga classes, and was captivated by the power of holistic living to nurture and heal her. (read more…)

The Failure Experiment

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I know, intellectually, that failure is part of life. But it’s not something I’ve had much experience with. My life has never been messy, or far from the beaten path, or out of synch with my own expectations for myself.  My first 30+ years have provided stability and many rich experiences, but it is not quite the wild and precious thing that I want for the next thirty.

I am in the middle of a change. I’m at the point where I know something is happening, but my ultimate destination is murky. Even though I can’t visualize it (or maybe because I can’t), I am worried that I might fail to arrive in this new place. And that terrifies me.

(read more…)

Imagining the Audience Naked Isn’t Helping! –Better Tips for Public Speaking

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For a high school video production class, I hosted a live TV segment that was broadcast on our local cable channel. I sat at a desk in our little makeshift news studio to report on a popular security guard at the school and his impact on students’ day-to-day lives. Other students adjusted the cameras and made sure the sound levels were right. At 10:30 am on the dot, we went live. I still vividly remember the feeling of getting the first few lines out coherently, and then…

NOTHING.

It felt like someone hit the eject button on my brain and everything emptied out instantaneously. (read more…)