On December 21st, I quietly “celebrated” a private milestone. No congratulations were necessary. Nobody even knew. For most people it was just an ordinary Tuesday. But for me, this particular Tuesday had more relevance. On this day, I had officially been at my new job one day longer than my previous position.
In reality, it was a bittersweet milestone that brought back some ugly feelings of self-doubt from what felt like a previous life. Despite my short tenure at my last job, I learned a lifetime of valuable lessons about deceit and greed, empty promises, and unfulfilled potential. It left a lasting impression.
When I started my new job this past November, I hoped any residual cynicism from a poor experience would be buried with a clean start - that somehow the old axiom, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” would apply to me. But for weeks on the new job, I channeled my inner Cal Lightman and analyzed every situation, every closed-door meeting, and every microexpression in an attempt to avoid history from repeating itself. I couldn’t help it. Despite early praise from my supervisor and a good start on the job, I felt tainted.
For a year of my life, my confidence as a family man and father soared. At the same time, my professional life was on trial. For every cover letter, every phone screen, every interview…I was forced to constantly scrutinize every word, every action, every decision. Even after enduring a 3- month interview process and landing that job last year, every day was a test of my worthiness to receive a paycheck. On numerous occasions, my salary was thrown in my face. Even a simple dinner invite from my boss turned into an informal interview of my wife. We both left that dinner wondering what had just happened.
All the judgments over the course of a year had internally built up what felt like insurmountable doubt. Being laid off blew that doubt through the roof. Fear…is power.
I figured that as I distanced myself from a poor situation and started a new job that I would gain clarity and my fears would ease. I've been told "that time heals all wounds". However, my experiences tell me that this can’t be true. We never truly recover from deep personal loss. Even more trivial problems have lasting effects that influence future behaviors. Perhaps my self-doubt would dissipate given time, but that wasn't good enough for me. I couldn’t afford to have doubt creep into my newly rejuvenated career. Confidence is one of the most important attributes in life. I couldn't allow the previous actions of others to dictate my path.
For Christmas, my wife had all my blog entries bound into a hard cover book – a keepsake that serves as a constant reminder of our tale – one where we not only survived the toughest stretch of our lives, but we flourished and grew closer as a family. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I could ever receive.
As I read through my own words, I admired my confidence and optimism. Despite all our struggles during that time, I always knew things would get better. I knew we wouldn’t always just be treading water. I was reminded that no one has control over my own feelings. I was reminded that I "get to" have a career without sacrificing my family. I was reminded that this is a story of success - that WE made it. I've learned from my mistakes and made the right decisions. There is no reason to worry anymore.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day dealings of our lives that we just need to be reminded of the good. Too often we are clouded in fear…in doubt. I have a beautiful family and now I have a career that matters. Past mistakes don't have to define my future. They don’t even need to affect my future. I needed my own words to remind me of who I am. At the end of the day, I was chosen for this job and every day I prove why I was the right person.
Today is Tuesday. Today I am celebrating another milestone. Months after returning to work and struggling with the fallout from a past life, I stand tall and proud of whom I've become...and confident in whom I'll be.