The Discomfort Zone

It’s Sunday, my summer day off, and instead of blogging from the library as I usually do I am blogging from the comfort of my own couch while I re-watch season six of Game of Thrones and have a series of mini heart attacks. Life has been quite chaotic lately, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting my self-imposed duties as a z list blogger. Well If I don’t give myself the job, nobody will, so I should keep it up.

What’s been keeping me so busy you ask? Well that Skype interview I had about a month moved me on to second round, which in the world of academic librarianship is a big to do. So what, a second interview, what’s the big deal? I already work at an academic library, but I’m only part time, I’m staff not faculty, and the hiring process for part time people is nowhere near as intensive as the hiring process for a full-time librarian.

Most Universities will do a national search, meaning they look at the best applicants from all over the country, and will usually select a pool for a first video chat or phone interview. After the first round (some may have more this is just my experience so far) they will invite a few to the campus for a second all day interview process. This is my first time doing the big all day one, although I have a couple of friends who have done it multiple times. There are even some horror stories of being picked up from the airport by other library staff and whisked immediately to dinner with everybody, no downtime to clean yourself up or take a rest. It seems intense, but I guess it’s what you make of it.

The interview itself involves meeting basically everybody in the library, campus tours, library tours, a workshop or presentation that the applicant gives, a sit down with the dean and the associate dean (the higher ups), a short talk with HR and what I can only assume is a whole lot of repeating yourself, smiling, and just hoping that the day would end. There is an actual interview schedule which I got emailed a couple of weeks ago, times, places to be. Think of how nervous you are in a job interview (most last an hour or so) then stretch that out to 8 hours, then add to the mix that you are in a strange place, a city far from home and probably sleeping in a hotel with no knowledge of the city. At least here it’s in my very own home town, so I feel like I have a bit of an advantage. Not in the sense that I think I stand a better chance of getting it simply because I live close by, but in the sense that I know the turf, I know the city and the campuses like the back of my hand because I’ve lived here my whole life, so that aspect of the nerves gets to fall away. It’s a smart process because if you are going to choose somebody to join your team you really need to get to know them, especially for distance candidates, you only get one chance to hang out with them, so you should cover all bases.

So I guess long story short, I’ve been a nervous wreck, prepping my workshop, practicing my workshop. Fine tuning my workshop, researching the library vision plan, yearly report, the staff they recently hired and pretty much just freaking the heck out about the whole thing. It has disrupted my world completely, but mainly only because I have let it. From experience, the best way I know to combat nerves is preparation, so it has been getting all my energy. It all goes down tomorrow so at the very least, it will be over and done with and I can return to my regularly scheduled program, at least for a bit. There is a welcome dinner tonight, which shouldn’t be too bad, I think it’s just with 2 ladies from the search committee.

In the meantime, lots has been going on at the U as well, there is a summer lull with the students, but an influx of donations I’ve been copy cataloging and a surprising number of reference questions through the email and chat functions. Over in the public it’s the same old song. So many patrons, not enough staff, a million passports and carts and carts of cataloging for children’s. Busy, busy and more busy.

On the writing front, I’ve obviously NOT been blogging. But I have been trying to submit to more lit mags, so far 2 more rejections, one was a short story and one creative non-fiction, I have one other poetry submit out, so just waiting on that rejection to come through shortly. Had an interesting talk with a friend who is an artist (in sense that he draws, went to art school and has recognizable, measurable talent) and he really said what I did wasn’t poetry but more of a “writing”. Instead of saying I wrote a poem I should just say I wrote something.  It was well intention-ed and a way to change perspective of what it is that comes out of me and lands on paper, but it discouraged me quite a bit. I think I’m seeking validation from others, but I don’t think I will ever get it. Not in the sense that would ever make me feel comfortable anyways. Maybe really putting out your “art” should make you feel uncomfortable, maybe it should make others feel uncomfortable. Discomfort could be an indicator that you are on the right track.

Seeing as how I try to make these entries part life experience/part research I threw a quick google scholar search using “comfort zone” +personal growth to see what was out there. Most of the stuff talks about social justice, and cross-cultural immersion which is very interesting, but what I’m thinking of for my situation focuses more on individual experiences we seek out that can push us into new realms of existing that are less governed by fear. I came across an article Musings on Adventure Therapy by Alvarez & Stauffer which caught my eye. I’ve never heard of adventure therapy, sounds amusing. Reading the article doesn’t give me much so I thought I’d get a background on it.

Turns out that “Adventure Therapy” is a technique to explore both group and individual outcomes after being given challenging tasks in which the outcomes are based on the choices made by the person or group of people making them. Adventure therapy often takes place outdoors, in nature, and consists of games and challenges that are meant to be metaphoric for things we may encounter in everyday life.  According to the Encyclopedia of Counseling most of the evidence to support adventure therapy is anecdotal and there is no well-defined or widely accepted method to implement adventure therapy. (Martin & Ashby, 2008)

I would do it, it sounds interesting. Although I’m more attracted to individual kinds of therapy it may just be because group stuff is new to me. But getting in touch with nature, problem solving, challenging yourself, all sounds good to me. I also found another new concept called ecotherapy in my digging which is equally interesting, but that’s for another day.

It kind of reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer tries to teach Ned how to “live” and they end up marrying cocktail waitresses in Vegas. Reason number 1,432 why I think Homer Simpson is one of the best characters in the history of characters.

Las_Vegas

 

Martin, J. & Ashby, J. (2008). Adventure therapy. In F. T. Leong (Ed.), Encyclopedia of counseling (Vol. 4, pp. 13-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412963978.n4

http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Las_Vegas

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Get confident, stupid

I had a job interview this week at a place that I’ve been applying to for years that I really want to work at. On top of this, I haven’t had a formal job interview for about two years or so AND I’m dying to get out of working at the public, it was all so IMPORTANT I don’t mess this up.  Was I nervous? Yes. Could I probably have done better on some of my responses? Yes. But all in all do I think I presented myself decently? Also, yes.

Stuff like this is hard for me, I get so wrapped up in the thought of being judged by strangers I’ve never met. But we all do, don’t we? Then I get the fear of what happens if I don’t get this job, or what if I DO get it then I suck at it and nobody likes me. It’s like I’m screwing myself on both outcomes and the anxiety, oh the high anxiety waiting for the day and time of the sit down. Interviewing is part of the game if you want to get a job that you don’t create yourself. If we have to make a living out there in the world, then we just have to do it. I meditated a bit on it after I was done, attempting to get to the bottom of the fear and anxiety that surrounded it all. What scares me most about interviews, and even deeper down what scares me most about new situations and changes in life?

For me, it boils down to feeling inadequate or like I am perceived as foolish or stupid. Do I think that the four lovely ladies who panel interviewed me turned off the Skype cam and talked about me a little, absolutely you know they did, that’s part of the decision process. But, were they making fun of me, talking about how stupid I was and that I was in no way qualified for the job I was applying for? No way, I was just like anybody else they talked to that day. A long, tedious day of asking people the same old scripted questions. Worst case scenario is that they were saying that I was a complete idiot, even though the chances are narrow, if they were then at the end of the day who really cares?

Society sets us up to perceive failures, or rejections, or any kind of “imperfection” as a bad thing. Just recently I have stepped back and examined myself to realize that I am totally and utterly a perfectionist. I have been for so many years, and the only person that was really judging me all that time was actually me. Don’t mess this up, don’t fail, don’t look stupid, have perfect skin, teeth and hair and make sure that your outfit matches, and that you say the right things to not upset anybody. Get good grades, look good on paper, impress those classmates you run into that you haven’t seen in 10 years, do it all and don’t mess ANY of it up.

When did we get so serious about ourselves anyways? Lately, I’ve been trying to loosen my grip on perfectionism and just have fun with things. We all get caught up in our own heads and think, I’m so weird, but really most of us are very similar because we are these imperfect humans, made up of the same organic materials who function in very similar basic ways. We all think, breathe, eat, produce waste, have bodies, seek love, need shelter, and participate in intimate relationships with ourselves and others in many different forms.

With that being said, I follow this super cute YouTube channel called The School of Life. They have short shorts narrated by an amazing sounding English guy that sum up lots of important life lessons in under 5 minutes or so, accompanied by a cartoon. I have no idea how I stumbled across it, but I have been watching all sorts of them before I go to bed at night. Last night I came across this one called: How to be Confident, which I will post below. It’s short, I think you will laugh if you watch it, and you may even become addicted to the channel like I am.

 

So yeah, basically that’s it. People are idiots, I’m an idiot, you’re an idiot, and so are all the other people in the room with you right now. We are all in this ridiculous boat together, but at the end of the day are the ones that give concepts of appearing foolish a good or bad connotation, so if you think of it as not being a bad thing and just accept it, it’s easier to deal with. Some of the best moments in my life have happened because I gave up the fear of looking stupid and just did what I wanted to do. Those are the moments that have moved me forward, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. We forget as adults too we need to play, and play requires imagination, creativity and the ability to be silly.

Another good thing about the video is I found a new book to read! I got it here at the U, but for those of you who like to e-read and want the book;

In Praise of Folly by Erasumus can be found for free HERE.

Courtesy of public domain and the good people at project Gutenberg. Read what somebody had to say about the foolishness of human life in Europe in the 1500’s, it’s probably insightful and applicable to the same aspects today.

If you are looking for a more contemporary non-fiction style read on the subject of embracing your imperfections, here’s a great one, it’s called:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are by Brene Brown.

Find the Goodreads reviews HERE

Brown is a shame researcher who has written multiple books on the subjects of shame, vulnerability and imperfection. She is also pretty well known for her TED talks, which I have also seen a few here and there. She’s worth checking out, I read the book many years ago, but it sticks with me today, and I often recommend it to patrons that are looking for self-helpy kinds of things. So if that’s NOT your bag, maybe dip your toes in by watching one of her TED talks.

And I know, if you have been following for a while I feel like I talk about failing a lot. But, it may just be a common theme to take into consideration, sometimes in life we just fail and fail and fail, until one day we don’t. And if you think haven’t failed yet in life, then do something off Pinterest. Get an idea of how the rest of us feel from time to time. In parting, here’s my ultimate favorite Pinterest fail, I laugh hysterically every because mine wouldn’t even look at good as the fail ones.

cookie-monster-fail

Image obtained from: https://iowameetnyc.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/pinterest-fails/