I'm back. I've taken about 6 months off to try and get my life back in order and figure out what priorities require my attention. While I haven't quite gotten it completely figured out, I've learned quite a few things along the way.
1. I am worth it. Whatever time I put into self care, self love, and self compassion, every single minute is important. I've been taking time every morning to do my makeup for about a year, but in the last 6 months, I've branched out to trying new techniques and looks. Not every one has been successful, but my morning ritual is a small price to pay for the confidence I feel throughout the day. Nothing boosts confidence like fierce winged eyeliner and red lipstick.
2. I am an introvert. I took the Meyers-Briggs test and fell into the INFP category. This means I am an introvert who cares (sometimes too much). After reading the descriptions and learning more about the personality type, I came to realize that the way I approach things is normal for my personality type. Only 4% of people in the world are INFP, which is why I always felt like I was doing things weirdly and people couldn't understand my processes. I ended up working with someone of a similar (maybe even the same) personality type on a huge rehaul of my work process this summer and everyone was completely blown away by our project. It was the best collaboration I've ever worked on and we shocked everyone, as we're both known for just getting our work done well on our own.
3. I cannot control everything. I cannot control how others react to my successes. I had a lot of issues with how coworkers perceived the things I achieved this summer. I made legitimate cases for why I needed/wanted certain things in order to complete my work and all of my requests were granted. My immediate coworkers took it very poorly and for several weeks, I had to deal with them talking about me behind my back and being rude to my face. About halfway through this, I realized that I could not control their perceptions, but I could control how I reacted. Instead of letting them get me down, I worked harder on my own work and forged ahead.
4. I can do anything I set my mind to. I started my big summer project with the simple goal of simplifying our process for students. While that goal was accomplished, I also managed to create an all new process which provides students and staff with more resources. Halfway through the summer we were stopped short by our IT team, who told us that they would not be able to help us with getting the new software we were requesting. This led us to scrapping everything we had previously done and starting from scratch. I was doubtful that we could accomplish anything at that point, but we came out with a new process from the ground up and we rolled it out last week.
5. I don't always have to impress everyone. While I do still worry about how I and my work are perceived, I have come to realize that there are people out there who will never take me seriously, and who will never like anything I have to present. And those people just aren't worth my time. I know in my heart when I am doing something right, or when I am presenting something that will benefit others and I cannot let the haters get to me.
6. There is always someone willing to help. This summer, I have opened conversations and invited collaborations between offices I would have normally never spoken to. I have improved my network and filled it with people who have positive feedback and important criticism that is productive. On both a professional level, and a personal level, I have worked with people who truly want to see me succeed and will do anything to help me achieve my goals.
7. Taking time to breathe goes a long way. More than once this summer, I have woken up in the middle of the night or stopped short in the middle of the workday with anxiety attacks about accomplishing everything in time to roll it out. I had never experienced anything like it and my first instinct was always to panic. But I have since learned that stepping away and focusing on deep breaths and positive sentiments is enough to ground myself again and approach the problem more logically. I can now move through my workday without worrying because I know how to calm it quickly.
8. Writing and crafting are good for my soul. When it all gets to be too much, taking a few minutes to write a poem works wonders. I can get my anger and frustration out in just a few words and get back to the task at hand. At the end of the day, a couple hours with my sewing machine or my knitting needles, and all the worries melt away. The constant rhythmic motion is soothing and and the pride in completing something builds confidence in my skills. I've learned so many new techniques this summer and I am excited to learn more.
9. My future is still ahead of me. I tend to live in the moment and dwell on the mistakes I have made in the past. But I have laid out a plan ahead of me to grow professionally and achieve a career I never saw myself pursuing. I discovered in May that I truly love working in Student Affairs, even if I'm not in the exact position I would like to be in. I will be applying to graduate school for next year and am working with my boss to take on new projects that go beyond the clerical work I am doing now (my big summer project was a kickoff to this). I have unwavering support from him and several coworkers in the office I want to transition to. I realized I have a passion for helping others and for learning. I went back and forth for months between going for a business degree (and moving up within my current office) or higher education (and transitioning to advising). After exploring both options, I realized I found the field of higher education (and Student Affairs) far more interesting and exciting. I will be working on my application this semester and am so excited to move ahead.
10. I am beautiful at any size. This has been a rough six months in terms of stress, and the weight has slowly crept on. At first I was unhappy and stressed about it, which caused more weight gain. But at some point I realized that I would never be able to make a change if I didn't love myself as I am. I am not at my highest weight, though I am closer than I would care to be. I took time to buy clothes that make me feel confident and beautiful, and combined them with my new found makeup skills to build up my confidence. I have been posting a daily selfie with a positive moment from the day at least 4 times a week for the last two months, and I feel so much better about myself than I ever have before (even when I weighed way less!). I go to work every morning feeling bright, confident, and prepared for whatever the day has to throw at me. Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I am reminded that I am beautiful and I can survive anything.
I leave you now with a picture of one of my new favorite outfits and a closeup of what has become my daily makeup. This is something I never would have worn even at my lowest weight, but I absolutely love the confidence I feel when I wear it! For a look into my daily life, feel free to follow me on Instagram (fancysimages).