Changes in Plans and Attitude

Following some advice a reader gave  in the comments section, I’ve started reading The Career Journey by Ram Iyer. There will be a long post about that when I’m finished, but so far the book’s got me thinking about some of my personality traits, one in particular. In reflecting on the things I do well and my talents, I also start to recognize more acutely the things I don’t do well. And if there is anything I struggle with it’s this: I am terrible at dealing with changes in plans.

I like to have a plan of action, and I like to have something to look forward to. I always know what’s coming next, and if it’s something I’m excited about it’s like a reward for doing the things I know are part of the plan at the moment about which I might not be as excited. But life is life, and often things get cancelled, rescheduled, or changed. I would like to say that when plans change I’m flexible and I move on happily, but the truth is I get all bent out of shape. I start thinking irrationally and feeling disappointment. This is why I harp on expectation management for myself; I don’t think clearly when my plans change.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this week and I don’t think my inability to change my plans without stress is an inherently bad thing. It is, however, something I should be aware of, and I’ve got to learn to combat disappointment. Plans change for a reason. Factors outside my control make the original plan something that wouldn’t have lived up to my expectations anyway. And while irrational Kindall has trouble believing this, sometimes it’s for the better.

I’m not crazy enough to think I’m ever going to completely overcome my inability to deal with change. There are some things I’ll be stuck with all my life. But I do want to work on it and avoid disappointment when it’s mostly me allowing myself to be disappointed rather than a disappointing event that causes my feelings. There has to be some way to manage it.

In the context of The Career Journey I think it’s important to think about the things I hate or don’t do well as much as my talents when I’m considering what I want to do and where I want to be in my career. I’m clearly not cut out for a career in which the majority of the things I plan or produce have the potential to be overturned or drastically altered. I need a structured, fairly predictable purpose in life. There still has to be room to adapt to unforeseen challenges and allow innovation, but I will have to be purposeful in making plans and re-planning when something changes if I’m going to like what I do.

This is all very abstract and makes me seem incredibly rigid and boring, but it’s something to think about. How do I move outside my comfort zone to enlarge it while also learning to operate within it?

How do you deal with a change of plans?

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An Overdue Book Club Recap and Review

Book club was a lovely evening, so my soap box of expectation management will remain occupied. There were three attendees besides myself, and 75% of those in attendance had read the book. Originally I had envisioned more people showing up to book club, but the discussion was not impacted by the numbers as much as I thought it might be. The book was well-received, and it made my heart happy to talk about a book in a group of people. Which brings me to . . .

The Review:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This is such a beautiful book with characters you can’t help but fall in love with. You hurt with them and for them, and then you experience their happiness, which is even sweeter for all the sadness before. Renee, a concierge in a French hotel, has lived her life putting up the facade of the uneducated concierge; however, the reader learns she is an immensely intelligent autodidact who has become convinced that hiding herself from the world and maintaining her place in the class structure is the most effective way to avoid being hurt. Meanwhile, living in the hotel is a little girl named Paloma, also very smart, who has plans to commit suicide on her birthday unless she can find something beautiful enough to make life worth living.

These two characters exist in their own worlds, unaware of each other’s secrets, until Kakuro Ozu moves into the building. He brings them together and shows them that friends and art and beauty go so far beyond the small existences they’ve tried to maintain for themselves, making life something to be enjoyed rather than endured.

Barbery’s writing is beautiful, and the novel is well-constructed. This was the second time I read the book, and just as the first time I was mesmerized. I found myself smiling and crying, even though I knew what was going to happen. I was still deeply affected. It’s a reminder of the beautiful people and things in life and how enjoyable they are. The vulnerability each character feels when she allows herself to love someone is a recognizable feeling for the reader, and the payoff for loving and being loved in return is evident in the life that comes to the characters when they open up. Barbery also reminds us to enjoy this life before it’s too late. There is so much beauty to see, and there are so many people to love.

I am convinced everyone should read this book. There is something for every extrovert and introvert, the well-educated person and the one who has a minimal background in formal education. It will make you think about the way you treat other people and the beauty all around you that you might take for granted. The book club enjoyed it, and my guess is you will too.

If you’d like to buy it, click here.

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November is the Best of Months

I love November. I am partial to the month because I was born in November, but I think it has a lot of other qualities that make it the best month of the 12.

As of November 1, Christmas music becomes somewhat acceptable. You’ll encounter the occasional grinch who squelches all Christmas fun until after Thanksgiving, but overall people aren’t too hard on Christmas music in November.

As holidays go, Thanksgiving has got to be one of the best. I see Thanksgiving as the most bang for your buck; you have all the fun and family associated with larger events like Christmas, but none of the hassle of buying gifts or dressing up. You show up in your normal clothes, eat, and spend time with good people. What’s not to love?

It might snow in November. It’s hard to know when we’ll see the first snow of the year, but it sometimes comes in November. Some parts of the country got their snow in October, but I’m holding out hope that I’ll have a white birthday. A girl can dream.

It’s scarf and sweater weather. Currently it’s hard to know if you should dress warm or put on a light jacket, but the beauty of fall is the layers. Everyone looks better in layers, and this is the chance to take all those things you want to wear and put them on at the same time. There’s no waiting until tomorrow!

I’m expecting great things from November!

A Wicked Update

It happened, it was wonderful, and I haven’t gotten in anyone’s face yet to tell them they are missing out on the joys of Wicked. I think that equates success.

Much like Jesus, Wicked was a good thing that I want to share with people. But the most effective method of conversion is probably not arguing my superiority for having seen the show and implying you are insufficient for not having done so. If you get the chance, take it; you definitely won’t regret it. You’ll feel empowered by the story of humanity, beauty, and friendship; you’ll believe in happy endings, and you’ll find new reasons to enjoy The Wizard of Oz.

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Managing Expectations: Book Club

I am a firm believer that you cannot expect people to give you what you want or live up to your expectations unless you clearly communicate what you want from them. Only then can you be upset when things don’t go your way. It’s also a good idea to assess what you expect from a situation, the likelihood the outcome will meet your expectations, and whether you want too much out of something or someone and should therefore adjust your expectations accordingly.

It is within this framework I think about my first ever book club meeting tomorrow night. In an effort to continue reading with a purpose and discussing literature now that I’m a graduate and not a lit major, I organized my very own book club. I told some friends and a few coworkers what book to read and when and where the club would meet. The book is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (I’ll get to it in a future post), and the meeting is tomorrow. I’m excited, but I’m also aware I need to assess my expectations and align them with reality.

In theory, the inaugural book club meeting should be the most highly attended. After the first meeting, some will decide it’s not their thing and others will have other obligations. In terms of a graph it will probably start to descend after the first meeting and find a steady holding point. Every now and then it will spike as a new person expresses interest or someone brings a friend. I am realizing it’s likely the three people with whom I spend the majority of my time will be my only book club attendees. They’re very loyal, so their varying degrees of interest will be trumped by their desire to be at something they know is important to me. I am very grateful to them for that, and I’m looking forward to spending my evening with them if they are the only people that show up.

This all sounds very pessimistic, so let me clarify: I will be thrilled whether or not more than three people show up. And I probably won’t give up on it after just one month even if everyone who responded to my invite doesn’t come. I’m not expecting it to fail; I simply refuse to be disappointed because reality doesn’t align with some grand vision in my head. If I have an idea of what to expect, anything above my expectations will be a bonus and everything that meets my expectations will be exactly what I want! Beyond attendance, we’ll see who actually read the book. This isn’t a class, and I don’t have any dictatorial ambitions, so if everyone hasn’t read it I’ll be okay. Whatever happens, it should be fun!

Note: I am still on allergy medication and heavily sedated. It is possible I won’t remember what the book is about or remember the next day who showed up. So to those coming to book club, let me manage your expectations by giving you this knowledge up front.

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It ends tonight. This is the typical reaction when someone finds out I haven’t seen the musical Wicked:

Person: “What?! How have you not seen wicked?! It’s SO GOOD!!”

Me: “It tends to sell out quickly and tickets are usually expensive.”

Person: “It doesn’t matter! It’s Wicked!”

This conversation continues, fruitlessly, in this same manner. But not anymore. Tonight I’ll see what all the hype is about. I will know if the show is as good as these wide-eyed, crazy people say or if they are part of some larger conspiracy to sell tickets to a horrible show, Producers style.

Most importantly, no matter how much I enjoy the show I will make a conscious effort to not get up in anyone’s face who hasn’t seen it. It might be the greatest show ever, but there’s no need for causing others the discomfort I have experienced. And to you Wicked enthusiasts, remember to be gentle.

Disclaimer: I am under the influence of allergy medication and heavily sedated. I can tell this post has not met the standard of quality for which I strive. All apologies.

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Paranormal Update

Due to an unforeseen adventure of running out of gas on the way to dinner I got home later than planned Friday night to begin the Paranormal marathon. But I keep my commitments, so we started watching. Kristen and I watch a good deal of ghost-hunting tv, and while we don’t have our own paranormal experiences to speak of, I think we both think it’s possible these things are real. That being said, the first movie freaked me out. I didn’t even want to get off the couch to start the second movie because I felt exposed and vulnerable getting out from under my blanket (I recognize how ridiculous that sounds). I overcame my fears and started movie number two, but I’m such an old lady I couldn’t stay awake. After I dozed off several times Kristen suggested we pick up the marathon Saturday.

Saturday morning the weather was sunny and beautiful, and we walked to brunch before we finished the movie. A sunny morning drastically changes the movie-watching experience, so I spent less time cowering in fear.

This has been quite the extended marathon (I use the term loosely), but eventually we’ll see the new one. Maybe Saturday post-brunch when there’s still daylight as we leave the theater.

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Paranormal Evening Activities

Sometimes I have really dumb ideas. One of these was to watch every Batman movie Blockbuster (may it rest in peace) had available in a 13-hour marathon before going to see The Dark Knight. This was dumb because I don’t particularly like staying up late or sitting through one movie, much less five. So I may regret my evening plans, but I doubt it.

Tonight my roommate and I will be watching Paranormal Activity 1 and 2, and soon we will hit the theaters for number three. While this will not require the time commitment of Batman, I imagine my capacity for terror will be tested. I can only hope we will be able to sleep when it’s over. I have not seen any of these movies, but there’s no better way to catch up than in one fell swoop.

I will always say after a ridiculous marathon that it was a terrible idea, but the truth is I’ve gotten closer to some of my favorite people by watching tv well into the night. So here’s to roommate bonding and hoping our dog will be able to protect us from the ghosts!

Question: What movie/tv show marathon would you lose sleep for?

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Professional Development: A Reflection

This week at work has been full of professional development events, and it’s got me thinking. In some ways it was like I was back in classes or required seminars and workshops, but it’s been interesting to approach them from an employee rather than a student angle. The topics were broad and varied, and there was something to take away from all of them.

Tuesday I listened to two talks, one on social media and another on gadgets and gizmos. Social media is not a new thing to me, but new facets of social media are important now that I have a full-time “real” job. It was a brief overview of ways my department might use social media, how other departments in the organization are already approaching it, and how they might use it in the future. The gadgets talk was great because I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I don’t own a smart phone, and have yet to convince myself I need one. Or really even want one. In my mind there is a fine line between the usefulness of technology, the necessity, and the possibility for distraction. I don’t want my technology to detract from my real life, and I try to be very careful about controlling my use of it; however, there are some really exciting and highly useful applications and electronics I now need to look into.

The rest of the week has been more academic. I listened yesterday to a talk about the importance of being adaptable and flexible in my work environment and an exploration of authority. Today’s lesson was about higher education law, and I will admit it was much more interesting than I had anticipated.

I have spent significantly less time in my office this week, but overall I think it’s been worthwhile and productive to attend all these sessions. The relevance of the talks was varied, but ultimately there was something to take away from all of them. The things that might not apply to my current job will probably come in handy later, either in my personal or professional life. The biggest thing that struck me was how nice it is to continue learning. Like classes, some of these things I was required to attend even though I have little to no interest in the subject; however, I like having someone force me outside my comfort zone and make me learn things I wouldn’t seek out on my own volition. It diversifies my knowledge, and I’m better for it. I admit this now, but I might deny it in the future because nobody likes to be required to learn.

The best part about all of this: In school I was paying to be required to go to workshops like these. Now they pay me to go! It’s hard to complain about free learning.

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Open for Business! And Suggestions

I haven’t been out of school long enough to do much, but I’m ready now to get down to business. I’ve got some goals you’ll read about in the near future, a long list of books I want to read, and a few projects I’d like to work on, but I’m all about suggestions. What is something a recent college graduate should do/learn/make/know? It can be as educational or as mindless as you want it to be. If you’ve got a suggestion, leave a comment.