Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Write so the heart stays soft: On vulnerability and interviewing

Vulnerability: Telling the truth without worrying whether or not it sounds good. Revealing the self without concealing imperfections. Admitting freely when I don't have my shit together. -me

A lesson from interviewing: Embrace Vulnerability

I've had multiple interviews in the last few months. 

Interviewing sucks. For everyone. It sucks for those who are trying to decide whether you are the right person for the job, just as much as for us who are trying to find a place where we can fit in, contribute, and be happy about how we spend our time. 

It is the art of constructing an identity. It is a first date when you want to look your best, because contrary to what we say and want to believe, looks in our culture do matter. It is learning what people want to hear and saying it in a way that says, "I'm genuine." At worst, it feels fake. At best, you are able to find a place where you are valued and you are being genuine.  

It is constructing conversations in the head, with potential employers, parents,friends and acquaintances. 

It is learning not to take it personally when you are rejected, even though sometimes it is you and it is personal.

It is creating and telling a narrative while stifling insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, incompetency, fear, shame, and guilt. It is glossing over past failed projects, goals and dreams that never materialized, wishes lost in the sea of possibilities. It means trying to maintain a sense of worth. It is pushing back on the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong. 

If I admit that these feelings are just stronger than me right now, then it's confirmed that the feelings are, indeed, truth. 

This narrative, which attempts to omit these feelings, might actually just be my self unraveling. 

Conversation doesn't happen in a vacuum, and you can't hide behind your weaknesses and failures without being "outed." So, I'm trying to embrace vulnerability and perhaps say, yes, I am unraveling. I'm trying. 

I think (hope) this is a lesson I'll look back on and want to carry. Embracing vulnerability is one of the murkier conversations with the self. It can't be scripted, or omitted. The feelings need to have a place at the table. They need to have a space to voice their concerns. And I want to listen to them. Even though it bruises my ego.

This means I have to sit down at the table and have that conversation with my weaknesses and failures, my fears and shame, and say, I hear you. You matter to me. I'm all in. And it's ok. 

This is one conversation that takes practice. Now to find a way to embrace vulnerability while interviewing. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding my stride

"My feet and I have this understanding...I place one in front of the other and they transport...its called walking/running/hiking..., and it opens the window of my mind and lets all the clutter rush so much stale air...I don't know what my mind would do without my feet."

-Original author unknown, shared with me via email from my good friend Snowcone.

Running+Vibrams+Mud=delectably dirty feet;)

Jacob on a beloved local trail at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve
It's official, I signed up for my first trail race. I will be running along the Skyline to the Sea 50km trail run on June 10. I've never run an official race longer than a half marathon, and I've only recently run more than that while training for this run. After completing the Pacific Crest Trail back in September, 2011, I promised myself that no matter what future paths I followed, I wanted to keep the daily part of the trail alive. This manifested in a desire to start running. And I feel most alive on trails. So, I've committed to running on trails.

There are running days when I feel whole, aligned, right with inner and outer sense of place and space, and my body moves with ease. I approach these days excited for what's to come, what I'll encounter, and the miles, hills, and hours I devote make me feel strong, centered, and free.

And then there are running days when I feel worn down. My body feels heavy, cumbersome, and each step a chore. My mind starts to focus on the hills, the miles, the time; and they break me down and shout at me to give up. This voice inside stifles my commitment to persevere. 

It's exactly how I felt on a long-distance hike. And, I've had this continued conversation with a realization. Not an epiphany but a truth that resides in the back recesses of my mind. A truth which has revealed itself over and over and over again. One that I face everyday, in every facet of my life. The truth that whispers, don't get so comfy when everything feels right, because very soon you'll feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. 

The ups and downs, in running and life, are in fact, the essential endurance. This is the singular hurdle which rests between the outer world and the inner strength. I'll find my stride by running through the good days as well as the bad.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In honor of Women's Day

Women's History Month and International Women's Day: Celebration.

Today is Women's Day.

And this month is Women's History Month.

So, today, and this month I think about women, around the world, who live in fear: of violence, persecution, political or social oppression.

Who don't have a safe space to explore their inner and outer worlds, who can't be silly, who can't go jump in puddles, who don't have time or resources to read a new book, write a new poem, paint a new portrait.

Who don't get to walk to the beat of their own drum, who can't even walk alone.

And I think of the women of the past and present, in my own life and whom I've never met, who take a chance, make mistakes, fall, get up, who laugh and make fools of themselves.

Who gaze up to the stars, who let their minds wander out into the free open air, and study the currents and under-currents harbored in the infinite sky.

The women who march right up to the corners of our universe, to the folds of the fabric, and who launch themselves into the unknown.

Today I express my appreciation, love, and unwavering gratitude for those individuals in my life who have allowed me the freedom and space to say what I think, whatever it is, and be who I am, without judgement.

The freedom, in friendship and love, which allowed me to embark on a life journey of possibilities, playing with life's options, and much silliness.

I have had, through no volition of my own, the good fortune to have been born to a family which provided a childhood world where I was equal, and I count my blessings.

I have had friends, family, colleagues, teachers, students, coaches and players whom have shared experiences and in mutual respect, been with me in life's joys and sorrows.

How many times I've wanted to say thanks, but never did.


I say,