Friday, April 11, 2014

On not being busy

There are few times in my life when I've been able to truly enjoy not being busy. I thrive when I'm challenged; I get bored when I'm not. Time off is always fantastic for about a week, but then the restlessness settles in. And if the restlessness lasts too long, it turns into moodiness and depression.

I think in a way I've used busyness to validate my existence. When I'm not rushing to accomplish 12,00 things a day, I feel like I'm not doing enough. My hermit nights on the couch with my cross-stitch and chocolate aren't as satisfying unless I've paid my dues three times over first. It's one of those uniquely modern phenomenas that definitely applies to me. I don't have time for silly things like meditating or smelling the roses or simply existing; I have to justify why I'm here first.

So my first order of business after finishing my master's is simple: to enjoy not being busy. That means not scheduling every minute of my life. Watching a movie in the middle of the week if I want. Reading during some time other than my sacred bedtime reading hour. Leaving my desk during lunch. Going to ward activities because I have nothing else to do, not because I need to interact with something other than my books and computer.

Those other goals—cooking, practicing my piano, finishing my InDesign projects and starting new ones, writing, learning completely new skills—those can wait. Right now my priority is to slow down, not fill my extra 20 hours a week with new types of busyness.

It was hard at first. I felt a little lost for a few days.

But, while I have a constant need to be entertained/challenged, I also have a lazy side. It's been helping me out. When I feel like I should start setting some piano goals, it tells me to watch another episode of Gilmore Girls instead. When I don't want to make a lunch in the morning, it tells me to skip that step and just go out for lunch, because you're trying to take real lunch breaks now anyway. (However, my lazy side also reminds me that if I don't make myself a lunch, then I'll have to decide where to eat and then walk down four flights of stairs (that or wait for the elevator, which takes like 37 seconds) and out to my car and then repeat all those steps in reverse just to feed myself. There's no winning in this situation, unless someone brings me lunch.)

Normally, I wouldn't indulge my lazy side in such travesties. But for now, I think it's what I need to do to recharge after that crazy year I just had. This recharge period will likely only last for a few more weeks at the most, but I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to just sit back and let life happen.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thoughts of a soon-to-be master

Starting Monday, I would like you all to refer to me as "Master."

I kid. You can start calling me Master now.

That's right—I've turned in the last of my assignments and I ain't lookin' back no more. Well, except to reflect on my grad school experience, of course. I do have a blog for a reason, you know.

A master's degree. That's a pretty big deal. I keep waiting for the "I'm so awesome!" feeling to descend upon me, but it hasn't yet. And I don't think it will.

Because grad school was never about the destination for me; it was always about the journey. Graduating from BYU was a much more momentous occasion because it was, really, the end of life as I knew it. For as long as I could remember, my life was built around school. I didn't know who I would be without it. Even things like measuring time change when you no longer have school as a frame of reference.

I'm about to graduate for the third time, but there is no terrifying black blob this time. Part of the reason for this is that I'm 26, not 22 (or 18). It's only a four-year difference, but during that time I became completely independent. I already know how to handle car problems and health insurance. I already know what life is like without school to drive you. There are many adult experiences I have yet to experience, but many of the unknowns I had at age 22 are now regular parts of my life. I don't have as much to be afraid of.

The other part of the reason is as I stated above: I didn't decide to go to grad school because I wanted a master's degree—I decided to go to grad school because I needed something fulfilling in my life. Yes, I've complained a lot about school during the last six months. Senioritis can't be avoided, no matter how big of a nerd you are.

But grad school was everything I needed it to be. It gave me something to work toward, filled my empty hours, stretched my brain muscles, and helped me hone skills that I'll actually use. It set me up for a lifetime of continual learning and work, which is why I think I'm done with formal education for reals this time. (Check back in two years to see if things have changed.)

Unlike after my first two graduations, I'm not just looking forward to practicing my pathetic social skills or becoming a part-time couch potato with my free time. I'm not just looking forward to spending more time on the piano and developing other skills like cooking. I don't just want to go back to the familiar; I want to experience something new. I have no idea what that new thing will be, but there are plenty of things I haven't experienced yet. I have a wide selection to pick from. Maybe I'll pick two or three or seven new things to throw into my life.

That's the great thing about graduating from school—you start to feel like you can do anything. I guess the "I'm so awesome!" feeling is settling in after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time for an update

There's something about updating my life in writing—even if it's just to myself—that is soothing and tension reducing. If my thoughts aren't organized, I don't function properly. There are a lot of Harry Potter–related magical objects that I've longed to try out, but a Pensieve is one object that I think would be most beneficial for my Muggle lifestyle. Even small minds need an assistant sometimes.

Good thing I enjoy writing.

New job
  • Switching from a small company to a huge company is quite the adjustment. So far most of the changes have been positive, though. The extra red tape is well worth the extra employee perks.
  • It's still strange to me how nice everyone here is. Like, genuinely nice. It makes me feel guilty for forgetting almost everyone's name when they introduce themselves and welcome me to the company. I have new sympathy for teachers who have to learn hundreds of new names every semester.
  • USANA is all about wellness, and it's rubbing off on me already. I bought a water purifier because I'm a little freaked out now about the stuff that's in my tap water. And I've added some stuff to my daily exercise. And I'm probably going to stop bringing in chocolate-covered raisins to snack on. :(
  • I love, love being able to tell people I'm an editor and leave it at that. No lengthy explanations required. And I love working with other word nerds again. I have someone to cringe with when words are misspelled and punctuation is mispunctuated. Being a solitary nerd is fun sometimes, but it's exponentially more fun when others encourage your nerdiness.
  • Speaking of nerdiness, I'm not the only one here who has read Harry Potter. Thank freakin' goodness. And I'm not the only BYU fan, either.
  • My commute is only 8-ish minutes longer than my old commute. On the one hand, it's nice because I don't have to get up much earlier, but on the other hand I'm a little bummed because I was looking forward to some extra music-listening in my car.
  • I need more stuff to decorate my cubicle walls with. I have much more space than I'm used to, and my two pictures and Y sticker are looking a little sad and lonely right now.
School
  • I turned in my thesis on Sunday. It wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be because I feel like only 1–2 of my 12 essays are publishable. Writing is hard.
  • Just a few more weeks of this thing and I'll be a master. 
  • That is, if I pass my teaching class. That class is a bully to me.
Apartment
  • Last week they upgraded the plumbing in my apartment. All of my bathroom and closet stuff was scattered throughout my room. Every morning I had to partially reassemble my bathroom so I could get ready and then dismantle it all again before I left. For a few days, there were holes in my walls and ceilings. Then it smelled like paint. But what bothered me the most was the dust. Oh man, it drove me crazy. Everything I own was caked in it. My big Friday night plans involved eradicating that dust, and let me tell you, it was hugely satisfying.
  • Last night my fridge stopped working. It's a super annoying problem to have.
Other
  • I bought Words of Radiance the day it came out even though I had just barely started reading Way of Kings. (A few more days and I'll be ready for WoR.) Brandon Sanderson's mind boggles my mind. That guy could probably put the biggest Pensieve in the world to good use.
  • I am quite pleased with BYU's better-than-expected NCAA tournament bid. We couldn't have asked for a better spot. (Have you seen the basketball team's reaction video? It's awesome. And hilarious. I think it will even make the BYU haters smile. Here's the video link if you want to watch it.) I'm cautiously optimistic about Thursday's match-up, even without Kyle Collinsworth.
  • Yesterday it was so windy I was slightly afraid for my life.
  • I forgot about St. Patrick's Day again. I think I've worn green on purpose on St. Patrick's Day exactly once in my adult life.

Friday, March 7, 2014

On my last day at work

I woke up smiling this morning. I may have even hopped around my bedroom a bit. (I have no new bruises or scrapes, though, so I can't prove that the hopping actually happened. It could have been a dream.)

I've already been through the first 4 Stages of Self-Induced Change (excitement, doubt, terror, sadness/nostalgia) and have been sitting in the impatiently-ready-to-move-on stage for several months now. Usually when something comes to an end I'm still in either the terror or sadness/nostalgia stage, and then my journal entry that night is full of soul-searching questions and/or an overload of sentimentality.

Rarely do I approach a new chapter in life feeling this prepared. I was excited to turn off my Google news alerts and stop following the health IT blogs I've collected over the past three years (I'm not even sad that I won't be reading HIStalk anymore). I cleaned out my desk yesterday thinking about where I should recycle all of my paper rather than all the memories I was tossing away.

In fact, the thought at the front of my mind isn't that my last minutes are slowly ticking away: I'm too busy thinking about how BYU's WCC tournament run is going to go (I think BYU can totally win it, in case you wanted my opinion). And when I'm going to have time to take my car in for an oil change. And the fact that I didn't utilize my spring break the way I was supposed to and only managed to complete half the catch-up homework I planned to do (which isn't bad, really).

It's a little weird being this mentally prepared for a change, actually. So prepared that there's no need for final reflection or conflicting emotions--just the driving need to officially finish up this chapter and move on.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

11 things I learned from my first post-college job

My stint with my first post-college job is rapidly coming to an end. Those of you who have been reading between the lines probably guessed that I've been waiting/preparing for this for a long time (13 months, to be exact).

But as much as I've wanted out this past year, and as ready and I've been to move on, ChartLogic has been good to me and for me. When I started just over three years ago, my boss asked me a stream of get-to-know you questions, and one of them was "What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?" My first thought was "ChartLogic," but I was too embarrassed to say it out loud, so I said something like "graduating from college" instead.

The fact is, though, that my first real job changed me more than my college experience did. I'm not going to miss much about my current job other than my co-workers, but I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't acknowledge what I learned while I was here.

1. What makes a good manager. I've had four different managers, in addition to being a manager myself. I've learned that the best managers trust their employees enough to delegate, offer constructive feedback, don't blame their employees for things that go wrong, respect their employees, and are assertive enough to make changes and/or stick to their decisions when needed. A lot of people will disagree with me here, but a manager who is also a friend is a nice perk.

2. More than I care to remember about electronic health records. I knew nothing about health IT before I was hired, and now people come to me for clarification about new government requirements. I'm not by any means the most knowledgeable employee at the company, but writing over 1100 pieces of content plus the user guide makes you something of an expert.

3. How to work with people. College tried to prepare for teamwork that actually serves a purpose, but it only partially succeeded. I was fine with things like delegating and dividing responsibilities, but I still needed a lot of help in the communication department. I would worry for hours (and sometimes, days) whenever I couldn't find a way around swinging by someone's office to ask a question. My fear of approaching people was a character flaw I thought I would always have, but ChartLogic stamped most of that fear (the irrational part, at least) out of me.

4. How to be a girl (more than I was before, anyway). City girls are much more fashion conscious than small-town girls. Even though the guys outnumber the girls at least 6:1 here, the girls rubbed off on me more. Five years ago, I would have been ashamed of this, but I've morphed into a new enough creature to recognize that it's okay to not just be a girl, but to enjoy being one every once in a while. I still stay far, far, away from stiletto heels and I refuse to wear a skirt/dress unless it's absolutely necessary, but I accessorize a little more now, paint my toenails regularly, can walk in shoes with a little bit of height to them, purposefully buy clothes that are a little more exciting than my comfy, conservative drab at home, and even wear perfume and real lip stuff sometimes. (I guess I haven't completely overcome my tomboyishness, because I had a really hard time typing out that last confession.) I've even practiced that chipper attitude that girls adopt when they talk to each other, though it's exhausting and I don't plan on ever being good at it.

5. Competence. I have a strong desire to be liked, which has the dangerous side effect of making a person passive and unopinionated. Gradually, I've replaced some of my "I don't knows" with "This is what I thinks" and I've used my mad negotiating skills (former manager's words, not mine) to get my way when I felt pretty strongly that I was right. Nobody likes to work with a know-it-all, but people trust you more if you believe in yourself.

6. "It's just business, nothing personal." I don't like it, but that's the way the business world works.

7. Progress is a crucial piece of my mental well-being. I may not like change, but I am extremely unhappy if I'm stuck in the same place for too long. I need to be challenged every once in a while, otherwise I shut down. The good news is that a lot of the time I have the power to challenge myself; I don't have to wait around for someone to give me something new to do.

8. Contentment with the person I am. I don't have a lot in common with my co-workers, at least not on the sales/marketing side. And apparently if you're a girl and you like books, music, and sports, you're a bit of a freak. Several years ago these differences would have bothered me, but I've since become comfortable with the differences that make up who I am.

9. How to feel at ease in the city. I have to renew my lease again pretty soon, and I was rather surprised how happy it made me to know that I don't have to move to another city (and not just because I don't want to move all my books again). I don't know when it happened, but Midvale has become one of my homes, rather than just the place I work and sleep in.

10. The importance of having a work/life balance. I doubt I'll ever be one of those people who saves up her vacation days for three years, or who is forced to take time off. I like to be busy and productive, but I also really need my leisure time. Since I'm a writer/editor and can easily do my work away from the office, it takes a lot of mental effort to leave my work and work and enjoy other things during my time off. But that balance is crucial to my overall well-being and sleeping pattern.

11. Hard work, dependability, and humility are what get you ahead. That's all there is to it, really.

Monday, February 10, 2014

To my crazy self

Dear 2012 me,

Congratulations. You've found a solution to your I'm-feeling-stuck-and-need-a-new-purpose-in-life problem: go back to school! You're looking forward to starting school in the fall with the kids, and I completely understand the nerdy thrill you get when your first book list becomes available.

But I think you need to think this through a little more. All that free time you have after work? Not such a bad thing. Having that kind of freedom after 5:00 p.m. every day is a luxury you worked your tail off during college for; why would you give that up?

I know, I know, you like school. Especially in your current state of boredom, school sounds like more of a luxury than coming home to emptiness every evening does. Plus, it'll be a satisfying hobby that will make you a more impressive person.

I get it. Dude, I get it.

But keep one thing in mind for me, will you? School always turns into purgatory before the end. Always. And this time, since you volunteered for this entirely on your own and were in no way forced or guilted into doing this, the joke will be on you. 

Sincerely,

2014 me

Saturday, February 1, 2014

8 things I learned during January

1. "Danny Boy" can be a love song or a song about a father trying to accept the possibility that his boy won't come home. I prefer the second version, for some morbid reason.

2. Doing sealings at the temple is really awesome.

3. According to those Buzzfeed quizzes, I am Cinna (???), Charming (really?), Hermione Granger, Buzz Lightyear, an Idaho Mormon, and a boring human.

4. Temperature and humidity are huge factors in bread making.

5. I have a thing for basketball players.

6. 1:00 church isn't so bad. For now.

7. A good way to get through something you don't want to do (a.k.a. my teaching class) is to give it the least amount of attention you can possibly give it. You may have succeeded in forcing me to do something I would much rather avoid, SNHU, but I'm not going to let it consume my life. Take that.

8. Words of wisdom from Tyrel: "Reality seems like a nice place, but I wouldn't want to live there." I got through the month with my head in the clouds rather than by the seat of my pants. It's so nice to have an imagination.

Who else is happy that January is over? I have a feeling I won't be checking very many items off my to-do list today because this accomplishment—getting through the first half of the worst time of year—must be celebrated.