In the last few weeks I've embarked on what I'm calling a Secret Project. It's one of those things where I'm worried if I talk about it will go the way of all my other projects, and it's important to me that it doesn't. I'll say it concerns my health and my confidence, and leave it at that.
But speaking of confidence, I have thoughts on that today.
To me, sometimes, confidence is a switch.
In reality it's something you build slowly, over time. It's built by quieting those voices, by replacing them with others. It's built by doing things, by feeling things. It's built in therapy, often.
Occasionally, though, I find something happens in my life. It's like I've found the switch to a light in the basement and it just goes "flick."
And suddenly I am Thomas Fucking Fromhr. I am tall, confident, and can take on whatever the universe throws at me. Often, for me, it means I let a lot of that roll off my back. I let it slide off me, and stay still.
I've found a few meditative moments lately. I've been outside and had a free moment, so I sit down. I feel the cool air around me. I close my eyes and let my mind quiet, and almost immediately chastise myself for not doing this more often. I often find a fair bit of confidence in those quiet moments. When I can quiet my mind, the voices telling me I can't do X or Y, that I'm too A or B, they go quiet. All I'm left with is awesome, wonderful, in control me.
I feel that way right now. Part of it was buying a new shirt today that makes me feel like a million bucks. Not the act of buying the shirt (though I won't pretend I don't enjoy that a bit) but a nice fitting, slimming thing. A thing that reminds you of who you are, even if the body doesn't fully cooperate right now, even if you look in the mirror the wrong way sometimes and see something you don't like.
Part of it was simply reading a good book, Anansi Boys. In it one of the characters in supremely confident. He's a God, after all, he should be. And in some ways it's wonderful to remember, to realize, what life will let you get away with if you ask, if you expect. It's amazing what comes to you, and I don't even mean in a law of attraction sort of way, when you have no doubt about it.
How perfect life can be!
I need to feel like this more often. I need to find this switch, this little thing today that clicked in my head and left me without a doubt that I am powerful. That I am worthy. That I am able.
I feel like I remember a friend of mine who always seems to be up on trends using the phrase "FOMO" a year or two ago, but I'll admit I'm just noticing it now. Perhaps I'm missing out on modern slang?
Ha! I slay me.
FOMO, for those not in the know, refers to the Fear of Missing Out, a concept that drives many of us to go out often when we wouldn't. It's the idea that pushes us to do more, to run around, to try and go to every party, for fear that you'll miss the event your friends will talk about for years, the hilarious laugh, that special person.
This is a lot of what drew me to go downtown to clubs, to go out and about, and to do…well, a lot of what I did when I was younger. Things I didn't enjoy, but I did for fear of missing out. This feeling was instilled in me by some friends, who seemed to feel it very, very keenly.
Lately it's faded for me, for the most part. For one, most of my friends don't do stuff like that anymore. I don't miss out on much, I don't think. It's kind of turned into a different animal for me, though.
It's become a fear of missing out on some aspects of life, really.
I've started to realize that I'm likely never going to be the guy who drives the Mercedes. I may have the nice cottage, but it won't be a giant one. I'll have a nice house, and be comfortable, but I likely won't ever be overly rich. I'll work my way up at a company, but I'm not sure I'll ever be in the C-Suite. This isn't because I couldn't, to be clear. This isn't out of lack of ability, or a lack of work ethic.
It's, simply, out of a lack of wanting.
I feel like this sounds a little cocky, and perhaps it does, but call it a belated burst of self-confidence in the last few years. I think I could do this if I wanted to. But I think, in my field, the price would be too high. I think working my way up there would involve long hours, weekends, and unbalancing my home life. It would mean less time with my fiancée (yes, engaged, if you missed that, but that's a whole other blog post that I'm kinda waiting on pictures to do).
I'm not saying I don't work hard at my job, put in the extra where necessary, do my absolute best at all times. I've proven I'm happy to stay later and check in on weekends as the work demands it.
But I also know that, for me, that work life balance is important. Most days, if I can, I will work my full hours and leave. I won't check emails in the evenings or weekends unless there's something pressing. To me, that balance is important. That balance is a very, very important part of my life. And lately I've felt a little pang when I've realized it's decently likely I may never have the corner office, I may not get the same respect the lawyers or the bosses get, I may never have the large house, the Mercedes in the driveway, the giant cottage, the boat or the Saville Row suit.
And there is some FOMO about that for me. There is something that doesn't like missing those things, and I get the occasional urge to try and revamp my life to focus more on work. And the realization that those things, those experiences I want do come at a price was kind of a humbling one.
But, then I get home. I cuddle my cats. I cook a nice meal. I bring my fiancée up on Google Hangout. And then I remember that some others won't be home for a few hours. And I think, this is okay. This is a choice.
I may be missing out, yeah. But not on anything that's important to me.
I feel like I've learned a lot in the last few months.
My job has shifted slightly and become, overall, a lot more stressful. I'm responsible for a lot more, and in varying fields, and don't have a lot of backup on some of this. I don't say that as a complaint, merely that there aren't really a lot of people to catch something I might miss.
And I miss things. More often than I'd like. I'm pretty hard on myself about those mistakes, I think. Likely a little too hard, but I suppose that's debatable.
Over the last few months though I've noticed a shift. I'm catching things. I'm figuring out systems to make sure I don't miss things, to work more efficiently. Now when my boss asks about something, there's a decent chance I can say "it's already taken care of." And that's a good feeling, folks.
I'm starting to realize that there is value in my experience. I used to think there was no real difference between Tom Fresh Out of School and Tom With 4 Years in the Workforce, except higher pay (hopefully) and people more willing to give him a chance. I'm learning there is a decent difference between those two guys.
In some ways that bugs me. Those job ads always asking for 3-5 years experience bugged me, because I thought I could do those jobs, if someone would just give me a chance. I'd still like to think Tom Fresh Out of School could have handled himself, but I'm realizing there are things I knew, I'd been told, but in the end I had to learn. I'd heard them before, sure, but in the end, I had be there, realizing I wasn't catching things, I was making mistakes, to learn how important simple things like putting things in a calendar, writing down EVERYTHING, asking for clarification, and any number of little things, were.
And I still make mistakes, to be frank. Far more than I'm comfortable with, but fewer than is terrible, really.
Life's funny, sometimes.
Lately I've felt like the Universe is shoving me towards some things. Like it's gotten tired of subtle hints and is now slapping me across the face with a trout to get me to listen and go the way I am meant to go. To go the way I want to go, really. None of what it seems to be pushing me towards are things I don't want, just things I hadn't really pursued that vehemently, because life was comfortable and not terrible.
Which, you know, NOT GREAT.
And lately there have been a few instances where things fall so perfectly into place when I've made a decision, or when I've said to myself "maybe I should do this," that it makes me wonder about some sort of providence. Heretic, agnostic me wondering about that. Go figure?
Now the realist in me says that these things are chance. They are just random little things that come up, and that I choose to see them the way I want. And this may be true. But honestly? So what?
Sometimes I think it's good to realize that you can choose the narrative of your life. It's an internal thing. It changes nobody but you, and as long as your narrative isn't, like, that you must never shower or must murder all gingers, who the fuck cares? If something like this helps you make a decision, or feel good about a decision you've made, fuck it. Enjoy it. Grasp it. Run with it. Share it with those you want to, keep it from those you don't.
But never for a second think there's anything wrong with choosing the narrative of your life. Because in the end it can shape you. If your narrative, your story as Nicole would call it, isn't something positive, is poisonous or negative, that hurts you. That holds you back, I think. Make it positive, even if your life is full of BS. This is hard, and I'm not saying one must be positive all the time. Sometimes life sucks.
But at my core, I think I'm going towards good things. That I have good things ahead of me. I have to. Cause if I don't believe it, who else will?
It's funny sometimes when I look at my life right now compared to a few months ago.
A few months ago I'd have told you a relationship was what was missing from my life. That otherwise I had everything figured out; good job, house, making ends meet, good friends, body was…well, on its way.
In the last two months I've spent a solid chunk of money. I've gained weight. And things at the job are fine, but stressful, and I've made a few mistakes lately. These things are all, in some ways, interconnected. The job stress means I stress eat. Part of stress eating is often take-out and other expensive foods. And I've never been the kind of person who finds exercising relaxing (maybe we can change that story, but I haven't yet).
But wait, Tom. Finding the right girl was supposed to solve all these problems! I was supposed to be super confident! My life would be in perfect balance!
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP ISN'T THE SOLUTION TO ALL THINGS
I mean, I knew all this, really. I didn't really expect it to solve everything. But I expected a relationship to just slot nicely into my life. I expected ease. Now, mind you, I didn't plan on a long distance relationship. I didn't plan on flying as much as I am.
And let's be clear. Overall, my mean happiness has improved drastically. There's a bounce in my step that hasn't been there in years. I'm traveling more, seeing people more often, and in general I think this will end up being one of the best summers of my life. (Unless you think we can top it next summer, Klutzy).
But I've noticed my waist line expanding. Things are tighter. I've managed to reign in work a bit but it's still busy as Hell, and I know soon I need to get my search for a new opportunity in gear, or see about expanding my role in the current one. I haven't been writing as much, I haven't been reading as much. I've thrown a lot of my spare time into my relationship. And, also to be clear, I wouldn't change one bit of that. It's helped us grow as a couple, and it's been incredibly fun.
In the future though, I need to start finding those balance, and that means working with Klutzy. Figuring out a time to go to yoga or the gym. Working together to motivate each other. Finding the right time to read and write (which maybe is different than when it used to be). And for once I feel comfortable saying, occasionally, that I can't hang out on a given night cause I need to do X or Y. Previously in relationships I felt so insecure I needed to throw EVERYTHING into it cause obviously otherwise she wouldn't be with me.
I need to keep up with therapy, as I know I still have a ways to go in that confidence.
It's different now though, cause I have a partner to support me. We talk about finding a yoga class together (or, rather, one that occurs at roughly the same time in Chicago and Toronto). About waking each other up for morning runs. About finding ways to eat healthy, together. I know that I could sit with her, on video chat, reading. I know what times work best for reading (on the train).
So, in brief, relationships don't solve all the problems. In actuality it's a little like picking up a second job. A job that, you know, you love, that pays you back in incalculable ways, and where your boss tends to be pretty hot. And, if you play your cards right and find the right boss, it's a job for life.
In the past I've not been a particularly forgiving person overall. Outwardly, sure. But inwardly there was always something in me that held onto grudges. I still remember people who have caused me issues, who have hurt me. And there was some part of me that said they shouldn't be forgiven unless they try to make amends, unless they repent, for lack of a better work. To forgive, in my mind, was to lessen the crime. Was to say their crime didn't matter, when it did.
I may have relayed this story before on the blog, but it's one I tell a lot, and it fits. I ran into an old high school friend on the GO Train once. He and I were both slight social outcasts. Not complete by any measure, but not fully in the inner circle. Both of us were taunted at some points. He gained acceptance later on, but for me, for most of these folks, I was taunted til quite late in high school.
When we met he told me one of those taunters was having a party, and that I should come, all the people would be there. I demurred, simply saying I didn't really have much to say to these people. He insisted, saying it wasn't like that anymore, no one was elitist or rude or mean.
I said no, though, still. I couldn't just pretend all that crap didn't happen. I couldn't just pretend these people were okay, that they should be able to sleep at night for the crap they pulled, that it was all okay and we were all friends now and the things they said to me and did to me were just boyish pranks. They were bullies. They don't get salvation, they don't get forgiveness. If they can sleep at night, it is stolen sleep, sleep they do not deserve. I wanted them to rot. To remember their crimes and to be haunted for the rest of their (hopefully short) days.
That anger in me, which reared its head there, scares me a little. And I'm working at letting it go. At smiling and making polite conversation when I run into these former bullies. At congratulating them on their successes, and sharing my own.
As with many things in my life, I'm trying to be more zen about it. To not hold onto that anger, as it serves nothing. I've made efforts with people who previously I said I never would, to try and put that anger behind, to forgive them the slights, even though they hadn't sought this. I think it's better for me. I think it's better for a lot of things, really.
Ever since BiSC I've felt a little freer in many ways. I've felt more confident in myself, and more ready to embrace the things I'm interested in. This was a trend before BiSC, but BiSC kind of kicked it into overdrive. I've felt less worried about negative comments, about anyone finding fault with my actions or interests, and just diving into them.
Today, for example, I went and bought a bow tie and a pocket square. Why? I had some time, and I've been embracing the prep a bit. I like dressing up a little fancy, I like that kind of culture. The idea that you dress up for the airport. That you wear a blazer even when you don't have to, just cause.
And what's more, it seems that people tend to respond to the real me. I got encouragement from Klutzy and tons of positive comments on my idea to dress a little outlandishly. And, to be frank, I feel good. A little out there, but, like…I am a little out there. I'm a little weird, a little crazy, a little frantic when you get me going.
So, time to embrace that, I'd say.
And for the record? I bought two bow ties, not just one. And I love it.
Since BiSC I find myself suddenly having a great deal of travel plans. I'll be either on a plane or entertaining a visitor roughly every two weeks for most of the summer. I'll be seeing airports a lot.
Today was one of the first times I went to an airport and found myself not too happy. Most of this is my own fault. I brought a carry-on I have to actually carry as opposed to one with wheels (correcting that for next time). I got here insanely early, which in ways I'm glad for, but it also means I've had more than a few hours to kill. I'm nervous, too. Excited in that wonderful way that almost crosses the emotional border into scared.
But I find myself kind of hating this airport. As much as I'm excited, I'm excited for the end of this journey, to be in Chicago, for Klutzy.
I'm trying to quietly recapture the wonder and excitement I felt the last time I was in an airport. The feeling of hope, of newness. Of possibility. Because really that's what an airport is about. In an airport you're often going on an adventure, or coming home from one. Both events are a little sad, and a lot happy.
A lot of things have gone wrong today. Things are insanely busy and stressful at work.
But there is no place I'd rather be right now. Yes, if I could leave straight for Chicago from my house, that would be lovely, but being here means I get to go to Chicago. I get to see Klutzy. And that will make everything okay, for a little while.
At the end of this, in far too short a time, I'll be in this airport again. And in two weeks it'll be a different one, and I'll see more people I love.
In the next few months I'll spend more time in airports than I have in my 28 years previous combined. And I know that I must, must maintain my love of them. I must see the benefits, the unique experience, the potential of them. Yes, there will be stomach aches, things to carry, little things going wrong, and rushing, rushing, rushing.
But at the end there will be Klutzy. There will be other friends. There will be adventures to have, new experiences, new wonders to share. My credit card hates me right now, but I'll recover. And there is not a doubt in my mind that this is worth it.
I am so fucking excited for my life right now. As crazy as it may be, for the first time in my life, I'm comfortable being uncomfortable. And that'd be worth it at 10x the price.
Plus, you know, Klutzy.