Fear and Confidence

Many years ago I bought my eldest tickets to see Hugh Jackman in Indianapolis, it was a birthday gift, or a graduation gift… I don’t remember. She expressed to me her mixed feelings about the tickets. We aren’t concert goers. We don’t do big events with parking and seating and logistical complexities very often. They are an adventure, a challenge, a damn EVENT. We are small moments people. We are “visiting butterflies, exceptional coffee, beer in the sunshine” people. Simple. Expansive. Small. Powerful.

So, I get her this ticket and she says (terrified) “YOU are the one who wants adventure. I didn’t ask for this!” And she is so upset. Gods, I felt I’d made a terrible mistake. I could have sold them. I prolly would have made money. Instead, I told her I had absolutely no emotional attachment to whether or not she went. And I didn’t. I absolutely believed that the experience of choosing was important. I absolutely believed in her, and the woman she was learning to know. Because I know she is powerful, I knew it then.

At the last minute the friend she was thinking about going with couldn’t go (I think I’m remembering that right?). And she went alone. She drove herself an hour north, to the ‘big city’. She found parking, which I’d helped her identify ahead of time, and she navigated the parking garage, and found her seat, and dealt with so many people and so much newness.

And she met her seat neighbors, and she sang, and she cried at the bigness and the boldness and the power of the experience. Standing alone with her new friends. A simple, powerful woman. As in awe of her boldness as the man on the stage. And now I’m crying.

All of this to set the stage for my own experience right now (because it’s really all about me, lol – gods my poor kids).

In 2002 the young woman mentioned above was a year old, and I lost my job. The company closed its doors and for the first time (ever?) I found myself unemployed and terrified. I’d been loyal to the company despite all of its toxicity and struggles. I’d learned mountains about my worth as a young professional and I was absolutely TERRIFIED that I had no income, no plans, no real savings and a very very small child.

For two months I applied everywhere, but my goal was to get a job at IU. See, Bloomington is a pretty small town and IU is the largest employer here and the word on the street was that once you got in to IU you were set. No one made much money (well, some folks did, but they were not my people) but you knew you had a job and good benefits and stability for the long haul. Peeping at my daughter, I knew I was in for the long haul.

Over the next TWENTY years, IU was many times my only stability … long haul indeed. IU made it possible for me to end my first (and decidedly worst) marriage. IU provided the funding necessary for me to care for my children without a partner, IU provided security and surety and a firm landing place when everything else in my life fell apart. I had a second child in 2006, my IU community supported me. Divorce and assault in 2007, my IU family held me together and gave me strength (mind you, the paychecks were also still regular – I don’t ever want to discount the value of knowing you can pay your bills and buy string cheese when your life is in crisis).

I remarried and divorced again … and my work family saw me through it. What I’m saying is, a couple of marriages, a couple of kids, a couple of divorces, an assault, moving house three times, beginning my art career, gaining weight and losing weight, career changes and interest changes, long hair and bald … twenty years is a long time.

A long relationship.

On January 11th I said aloud “I think this job is becoming a quality of life issue” … what a testament to where I am now, grown children and an established career, and feeling safe focusing on my quality of life! On January 11th I applied for a new position. On February 3rd I accepted the job offer. On March 6th I will start my new job.


Is it terrifying? Yes. Will I know where to park? Maybe… Will I meet all new people and learn all new things? Definitely.

And somehow, this all reminds me of my daughter and her fear and her experience and her tears of pride and awe at what she accomplished and the benefits reaped when she pushed herself out of her comfort zone. I am pushing … and this time I’m not pushing for my children (although they will certainly reap some benefits), and I’m not pushing out of fear (I could have continued at IU and collected a salary until retirement).

I am pushing toward something just for me. My professional life was no longer working – and I pursued change – and it feels amazing.

Rereading that, I really do sound so confident that I’ve made the right decision, and I am? … and I’m also comfortable with the fact that my mind will second guess this many many times before accepting that all will be well. I have pulled the rug out from under myself, and I’ve had the guts to do it because I do really trust myself … or, I’m working to trust myself (truly, I almost do, kinda…)

While IU was foundational in my feeling safe and my security .. while IU has been my longest adult relationship .. while IU wrote all of those checks .. I do also clearly see MYself and MY place and MY power in that situation.

I was part of building that community that held me so close, I held them close as well. I built my reputation of good work and conscientiousness. I brought laughter to so many hard times. I brought security to IU as IU brought it to me. This was a give and a take, this was a partnership. And this was the time to make a change.

So here I go, brave and bold and smiling. And I am mulling how often fear and confidence go hand in hand. I know I will be okay and still I get sweaty palms thinking about what I’ve just done.

Tally-Ho my friends!

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