Monday, August 26, 2013

Through the Open Door

Having done the same job in the same place for nearly two decades, I had forgotten how exciting the novelty of a new position can be. To begin with, there are so many little steps -- steps that I’d forgotten I ever had to take when I began the job that had consumed me for nineteen years. Where do I go? Where do I park? Which door do I go in? Questions that seem so small as to be inconsequential, only they’re far from it - they are the baby steps we take into a new world full of hope and promise.

And approaching these questions is very different at 50-something than it was at 20-something -- or perhaps I’ve simply forgotten the nervous energy that makes things like entrances and exits a really big deal. I’d become so accustomed to simply doing the job that the preludes and postludes blurred into the tasks themselves. No longer distinct phases of preparation, they'd become merely doorways out of one task and into the next.

Photo: Horton Web Design
 The last thing I want to do when I begin something new is stumble through the doorway. Although I don't need to make an entrance (on the first day, I'd actually prefer not to have an audience at all!), I do need to stride in with confidence that is real, not simply put on for show. Not so much self-assurance that I risk the inevitable errors that accompany cockiness, but enough that I can fool those butterflies in my stomach into thinking I'm in charge.

One advantage that comes with tackling new things at midlife is that we've had enough experience to know that the butterflies will fly away -- usually not long after we've cleared the doorway and jumped into the task at hand. Under the best of circumstances, those butterflies leave behind a nervous energy that we can use to power forward and sustain us through inconvenient moments of self-doubt.

Because there is both comfort and security in the familiar -- the thing we know we know how to do -- it's sometimes tempting to avoid new adventures and the angst that accompanies them. But as much as I hate the moments and hours and days leading up to the thing that's new and scary, there's nothing like the exhilaration that comes from confronting my fears and emerging victorious. Sure, there's always the chance that I won't  emerge victorious -- or even unscathed, for that matter -- but a few battle scars are a small price to pay for a new adventure.

Photo: stock.xchng
And one never knows exactly where a new adventure is going to lead.

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