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Chapters, Change, and Courage

Updated: May 12, 2020

Well, folks, this just might be my final post as a professional blogger. That stint sure didn’t last long, but for whatever reason no one has reached out to sponsor me and my high-traffic blog over the last three and a half months, which sadly means that I must go back to life as an unpaid blogger. I work so dang hard on here, slaving away day in and day out, and what do I get in return??? My mother telling me my posts are too long and maybe five other people actually taking the time to read them??? (JK, my mother is a loving angel but one time she said one of my posts was a little long and I clearly took it very personally). Ugh, it is so hard to break into the blogging world. Why wasn’t I born 10 years earlier?? Pretty much everyone who started a blog back when blogs were brand new became popular and successful simply because there weren’t many other options. Now the Internet is basically just one massive blog. Fashion blogs, health blogs, parenting blogs, food blogs, DIY blogs, teacher blogs, silly 20-somethings writing about anything and everything that people don’t really care about blogs… I think that last category deserves a little more recognition, in my unbiased opinion. But honestly, I probably wouldn’t read my blog if I was a random cruising the Internet either, so I get it.

This last week of work has so far been idyllic. Yes, idyllic. For starters, I began the week on heavenly 28th and am ending it on second-most-heavenly 8th (is it a coincidence that 8 is my lucky number? I think not). The first two days in my high-rise haven were calm, joyful, and easy (shocker). I had time to write my last blog post, which was very exciting after being unable to write at work for two straight weeks, AKA torture! You must understand the lack of posts recently is the result of being on the 29th floor with the Big Dawgs; I can’t have my boss finding out about my blog–for obvious reasons–so it wasn’t worth the risk of getting caught in the middle of writing a long-winded sentence and having to explain myself, potentially exposing my secret corner of the Internet to the people who certainly would be the least appreciative of the content I’ve been publishing over the last few months. So for the sake of my well-being and peace of mind, I refrained from going anywhere near my blog on that computer. It was not worth the risk, and I hope none of you were too heartbroken over the drought of blog posts during that unwanted hiatus. Trust me when I say it hurt me more than it hurt you.

But fret not, my dear friends; I have returned at last! Now on the 8th floor for my remaining two days of work, I am blissfully cruising towards the finish line within the safety of my comfort zone. We’ve really come full circle here; I’m back in the very same spot where just over three months ago I posted for the first time about my big girl job at a big girl desk with a big screen computer. This floor that at first made me feel so intimidated and unsure is now a familiar and safe space. Obviously, if you’ve been paying any attention to my blog, you know this job has been nothing short of a breeze, but starting any new job is a nerve-racking experience, no matter the level of difficulty or the importance of your responsibilities. But once you put in some time and figure out the way things work in your new position, it becomes so simple, and you almost can’t believe how scary it seemed at the start. It’s the same with a new semester of school; the first few weeks are daunting as you attempt to navigate a new schedule and new professors and new classmates, all of which is very intimidating when you don’t yet know the dynamic of each lecture and what is expected of you and if you will be randomly called on and where the best place to sit is and if you have a certain “spot” in the class yet and all the other little anxieties that come with unfamiliar situations. I always get a little nervous the first week or two of classes, even as I go into my fifth year (eeek), because no two semesters are the same. But, as always, it just takes some settling in and getting re-oriented to fall back into a comfortable routine. And it’s the same for pretty much every new experience.

In a way, our whole lives are spent preparing for this “real world” thing that happens after graduation. OK, so the idea that life before your first out-of-school job doesn’t count as the “real world” is totally made up and every day of your life prior to landing a more “real world” position is just as significant as the ones that come after. But naturally, there is a shift in responsibility and lifestyle when transitioning from full-time student to full-time working adult and contributing member of society. But also, as scary as that transition is and will be for me and everyone else going through it, it is inevitable and all we can do is go along with it knowing that every experience up to that point has been leading us to succeed.

Since the first day of kindergarten, we have been learning to adapt to unfamiliar environments, people, and routines. And every first day of school after that for twelve years is a little bit scary too. I think back to all those times when I was so nervous to walk into school, not sure who would be in my classes, what my teachers would be like, if I would be able to find my group at lunch without having to walk around the cafeteria all alone for a few minutes because heaven forbid I should look like I don’t have any friends. I also look back on things I did that scare the heck out of me and can’t believe that I–me, the very same person I am right now–was ever brave enough to do them. Like auditioning for The Young Canadians when I was barely confident enough to sing in front of my own family, or singing in the talent show of my grade 9 year with nothing but my guitar to accompany me when I had only started learning the instrument 4 months before, or starting classes at new dance studios each September where I didn’t know anyone, or going to the Alberta Ballet summer school when I had far less technical ballet experience than all the other girls there. Or even going backpacking in Australia by myself. All these little things I look back on and realize, wow, I did that! I did those things that scared me half to death and hey, I’m still here! And I’m happy I did those things so I don’t have to live with quite so many “what ifs.”

For reasons I do not understand, this boldness seems to shrink the older I get. You’d think with more years of life and experience would come more confidence and courage. But instead, I can’t believe I was ever so brave to get up on stage alone to potentially embarrass myself in front of all the people whose opinions of me I so pathetically cared about at the time. I can’t believe I got out of the car when I was crying with nerves before my Young Canadians audition and just went and did it with trembling hands, almost missing my cue when the song I had been rehearsing for months came on and it was finally my turn to prove why I deserved to be there. I can’t believe I would spend hours researching dance studios around Calgary, pick the ones I thought looked the best, e-mail the owners pretending to be my mom, then tell my mom that we had an appointment to visit the studio so they could place me in the appropriate level of classes. I can’t believe I decided one year that I wanted to do strictly ballet and sent in photos to the Alberta Ballet so I could attend their summer program where I didn’t know a single one of the classically trained ballerinas-in-the-making that were far ahead of me in the technique department. I can’t believe I did any of these things, and yet I did.

These all may seem like very small, normal things that all children do within the sports and activities they pursue growing up. And they are! I’m not trying to toot my own horn here and flaunt the mini-accomplishments of my youth because in reality, most kids do stuff just like this. Most kids have something they love and want so badly that they go after it because doing it makes far more sense than avoiding it in the off chance that it doesn’t work out. It is amazing. It is that boldness, that ignoring the fear of failure because we want something so badly, that propels us forward. And it is easy to lose that the older we get, at least for me, because the possibility of failure starts to seem scarier than the regret of never trying.

So maybe we should be a bit more like our younger selves. If you were bold enough to do it when you were 8, why not now? Sure, there are a lot of things 8-year-olds would do that we should refrain from doing as adults, and I’m not suggesting we revert entirely to being dependent, stubborn brats that scream in shopping malls when our parents won’t buy us that shirt we will hate in a year, but that mindset of going after what you want because you want it and not letting anything get in the way– that is something to hold onto. And if you let it go like I did, then it’s something to dig back up. It’s still inside of us somewhere. We’re all still the same humans in the same bodies we lived in when we lived without fear, so why should a few years of wear and tear stop us from being the bold, passionate, determined kids that we’ve always been?

Now as I sit here at my 8th floor desk, where I sat for the first time just over three months ago feeling nervous, out of place, and unsure of my new role, I can’t help but appreciate this experience for what it has taught me. OK, unfortunately I haven’t gained any super valuable skills that will further me in a career that actually interests me. I can’t say photocopying, cleaning coffee machines, and refilling sugar packets will come in handy in my future profession (and if it does, please shoot me), but I can say that it’s taught me that everything that seems uncomfortable and different and nerve-racking gets better with time. Everything that is scary and unknown eventually becomes doable and familiar; every new experience is an opportunity to prove to yourself that you are capable of anything, that even the most intimidating of situations are only intimidating for a period of time. You always come out on the other side and you always come out a little better than when you started, even if only in the tiniest of ways. We just need a touch of courage to get through the adjustment period in all its uncomfortable and awkward glory.

In all honesty, courage is one of the qualities I feel I most lack. I’ve always been shy and quiet and slow to come out of my shell, but when looking back on my childhood mini-accomplishments, I realize I had a lot more courage in my younger years than I give myself credit for. It takes a little more effort for me to find it these days, but I know it’s in there somewhere for me to gather up when it comes to starting a new chapter of my life. At the end of this past school year, I felt I needed it more than ever. I knew there was something I had to do that would require so much courage that I didn’t know if I could actually do it. I thought maybe I should get a tattoo that represents courage (tiny and in a discreet spot– don’t worry, mom and dad) so that I could carry it with me for the rest of my life. Instead of making a lifelong commitment that I was not ready to make, I got myself a necklace with a lion pendant that symbolizes courage, and I wear it every day. It is my little token of bravery, a reminder that I am stronger than I think. Best of all, I bought it for myself. It is a gift from me to me to never forget that even the hardest things can be done, and that I can do them on my own if I just dig a little deeper.

So whether it’s a necklace, a tattoo, a sticky note on your mirror or just a confidence you carry inside, we should remind ourselves every day that all the courage we need is already within us. A new job, new school, new city, or even the end of something safe and familiar… Whatever your next mountain may be, look for that courage your younger self collected for you and go crush the heck out of your new chapter!

That took a turn for the cheesy and I’ll be the first to say I am grossed out! Whenever this mushy side of me comes out in a form as public as a blog post, I basically want to bury myself alive. But alas, it made an appearance today and I think it’s best we just don’t talk about it.

Until next time, my fellow lions and lionesses!



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