Post 506: ‘That spunky little kid’

I entered the corporate world nearly 10 years ago as a fresh-faced intern. With $300 in my bank account and a shock of bright red hair, I thought I knew everything. And in some ways, I did. People told me I was “spunky” – I had a quirky personality and a no-nonsense approach to my career that mostly stemmed from my desperate need for money. 

If I could go back and talk to that 19-year-old who rode her bicycle around town by herself every night, here’s what I would tell her about her future self:

These are the parts of you that you will keep and hone

  • You will continue working hard to prove to yourself and others that you deserve what you have.
  • You will always be a go-getter, and your no-nonsense attitude will carry through in each decision you make about your job, your career, and your future.
  • You will use your classical training in journalism and writing to veer off course, because your deep understanding of the rules taught you how to break them with intention.

These are the parts of you that you will lose or change (and you’re better for it)

  • You will embrace the Oxford comma. Shocking, I know.
  • You will stop expecting that the world owes you something.
  • You will push yourself physically in new and tough ways. 
  • You will change what’s important to you. Money and the power to influence others in positive ways used to rule your world… these days you understand that having those two things won’t make you happy. And they never will.

These are the parts of you that you will work to find again

  • Your confidence. Good grief. The way you walked into a room and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought or said about you.
  • Your spunkiness and gutsiness. These days you lose a little bit of yourself each time you step into an executive board room.
  • Your creativity. You were always working on something new and fun, and today you’re working backward to find that creative zest.

When one of the managers who hired me in 2013 as an intern retired from my company in 2015, he left me with this to think about: “You came here as that spunky little kid, and that’s what I’ve always loved about you. 

“Don’t let them squash that out of you.”

I’ve let this go over the past few years, but I’m ready to bring this challenge back again.

So here it is: challenge accepted, at any cost.

Post 505: The laptop debacle

I left my laptop at the office on Wednesday night. 

Resting on its docking station in my organized mess of a cubicle, it beckoned to me. Backpack strap in hand, I reached over to undock, lift, and put my laptop into its cozy compartment. But at the last moment I stopped myself. And took a step back.

I realized it had been years since I had last left my laptop at work. In my early 20s I had a less-demanding job and my laptop entertained itself in its docking station all night, just about every night. I’d walk the 1.5 miles up the hill to my rundown apartment sans laptop, feeling free and thinking about what I’d spend my 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. hours doing.

Sometimes I’d paint. Sometimes I’d write. Sometimes I’d walk or (try to) run. I’d often make myself a fabulous dinner and drink a few double IPAs, and I always read books well into the evening, far past what is now my bedtime.

Knocking myself out of this cloud of reminiscence, I cinched the top of my backpack, folded the top over and put it on. I rushed out of the building, reminding myself that nobody knew my laptop wasn’t in my bag. 

But once outside I started to panic, and I almost turned around.

I have to do this and I have to write this and I never sent that one note and I was supposed to thank that one person but I never did and I know I owe her that story by the end of the night how am I going to do that if my laptop is at work?

I shoved these thoughts down and told myself that people can wait, not everything has to be urgent, and it’s unlikely you’d even open your laptop if you brought it home anyway. 

But it would be such a pain in the ass to get a text tonight and have to run back into the office to grab my laptop. You just don’t get it.

Okay, we’ll leave the work phone in the car, locked up all night. You won’t even know someone texted you, and shame on them for texting after hours anyway!

But what if it’s this person or this person finally gets back to me or they text me mad about something and expect an answer?

Who cares?

I do. 

Well you’ve been running yourself ragged for weeks, you haven’t exercised at all in nearly two, and you haven’t been eating very well. You’re not taking care of yourself.

You’re right. 

I know I am.

I’ll just watch that docuseries about the religious cult in Oregon and forget all about what’s going on in my laptop’s universe.

Good idea.

Cool.

——

At 10:00:

She’s going to be so pissed at me if I don’t get that story to her during her daytime in Japan. We both know I’m late. I’m just going to grab my phone from the car and make sure she hasn’t sent me anything. 

Okay phew, she hasn’t. But I still need to send something so she knows I’m working on it. Maybe I can borrow Nick’s laptop — or wait! I can just use the app on my phone that has all the documents in it. Perfect! I wonder if it’ll let me open in Microsoft Word on my phone — aha! It does! Oh perfect. I’ll just change those couple of things and send it to her so she knows I’m working on it.

Oh, Emily. What happened to you?