The last few months have been vulnerable for me. And as much as I say that I’m an advocate for authenticity and taking risks for connection, I hate being exposed.
I was very excited about a job opportunity about two months ago, but I tried to not let myself get too excited. I wanted to protect myself from being disappointed or hurt. With the second baby almost ready to party, Branden traveling for clinicals, and a busy 20-month-old, my options for employment right now are limited. Two months ago, I thought that I had found something that was a perfect fit. Anxiety followed the interview, along with self-doubt and the stress of trying to balance the needs of everyone in my family.
That day, I took Charlee to Petsmart to watch puppies. Her eyes lit up as she raced to the dog pen, planted herself in front of the cutest puppy, (who only wanted her for the graham cracker she held) and giggled and giggled. I watched her, untrained to mediate emotion and reaction, unaware of social norms like not getting too excited, too sad, too happy, too fearful, too much of anything–and I felt inspired. She let herself be joyful when she was happy, and tired when she was tired, and sad when she was sad. It seemed like a much better practice, the feeling what you were feeling out in the open, than protecting and faking. I watched her interact with the dog with pure joy, and I decided to lean into the discomfort of being vulnerable.
I decided to let myself be excited, joyful, disappointed, confused, or whatever else I needed to be, with the entire process of job hunting.
I ended up getting the job and turning it down. I ended up having another offer and turning it down. I have interviewed for multiple jobs, been excited about a few, been disappointed a few times, been plenty stressed and overwhelmed, and felt extremely vulnerable the whole process.
Vulnerability is selling myself to a job.
Vulnerability is saying “I’m worth more than you are offering,” or “That’s a lot of money, but it is too much time away from my kids at this point of my life,” or “Thank you for the offer, but it isn’t going to bring me the fulfillment that I’m looking for in employment.”
Vulnerability is saying “no” when I really want to say “yes.”
Vulnerability is telling people I am smart enough to do what they are asking.
Vulnerability is being rejected.
For me, vulnerability is a lot less about opening up, exposing myself through words, and a lot more about navigating myself. I have a husband who will probably be away when my second baby is born, and then I’ll have two kids, and I’ll be trying to make enough money for us right now, while attempting to remain sane and make time for myself–for my desires of personal fulfillment and growth.
I let myself feel this vulnerability, thanks to Charlee and her puppy friend, and it has been emotional. Self-doubt has arisen for me in interesting ways: Am I worth this amount? Am I being selfish for being picky? What if the best thing for me right now is to say no, to not work, and to trust that everything will work out?
A job recently came up that honestly would be perfect. I won’t go into details, but I have let myself feel thrilled with the prospect of doing the work that this job entails. I have gone through an extensive interviewing process. I have met with the owner of the company in person in Salt Lake. I have asked for a job to be open specifically for me, although they weren’t looking to hire. I have spent hours proving that my skill set will be an asset to their project. I have done my best.
Two nights ago, I sent in my last test after the last month of ups and downs working on different projects for this job, and I felt absolutely nothing.
After I hit send, my emotion was flat, and I had the epiphany of all epiphanies.
Although I will be blessed to get this job, I don’t really care. After hours of work and anticipation and hope, I am going to be fine either way.
Because no matter what I do, nothing will compare to the fulfillment I get from a moment with my daughter or my husband. Nothing could even touch it.
And I don’t say this to be preachy, because I’m aware that each of our situations are different. Maybe that connection for you will be through employment (which I hope can one day be the case for me) or maybe it will be through loving on your pets or caring for some cool plants.
But as I woke Branden up at one in the morning to try to figure this out, I realized that human connection, for me in this moment with the people I love most, is infinitely precious in ways that no external achievement could be. My moment of realization came when the internal, finally settling in, became more important than the external.
I said out loud to Branden, “This right here is as good as it gets.” And as depressing as this realization could have been, it actually felt light and joyful. The day-to-day is difficult, and nobody cares, and being a mother and a wife most days leaves me doing all my nervous ticks and not sleeping well. I am tired. But this is as good as it gets.
I realized then that one day, I am going to miss my daughter waking up screaming “MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY” and then constantly saying “no” to everything I offer.
I’m going to miss Branden driving 30 minutes both ways to retrieve her “lamby” that I forgot, while I rock Charlotte, way past her bedtime, and she asks me for songs until my throat is hoarse.
I’m going to miss Branden falling asleep with exhaustion everywhere he sits down, and I’m going to miss buying everything we own at a thrift store and making homemade mac n’ cheese in an already-trashed kitchen, because that’s the only thing that sounds good to me.
I’m going to miss Charlotte’s irrational fear of the sound of running water, and that her favorite color is very apparently green, and that her curly little hair is thick and wild and impossible to control.
I’m going to miss not being able to afford a gym, and I’m going to miss going to exercise classes every morning at a nearby church. I’m going to miss teaching myself to dance while 32 weeks pregnant.
I’m going to miss meeting Branden for lunch on days I have completely had it. I’m going to miss the inability to keep my house or car or self clean.
I’m going to miss date nights where we are both too exhausted to do anything, so we ask each other questions for hours with 20 fans blowing on us because we don’t have AC.
I’m going to miss him awake at 1 AM listening to me talk about this, when he has to get up at 5 to study for his test the next day.
I’m going to miss the little MMA boxer in my belly trying to break its way out, and I’m going to miss trying to craft a nursery out of things we already have, and I’m going to miss good friends helping me more than I can thank them.
Because one day, Branden and I are going to have kids all grown up, and we are going to have money and a comfortable place of our own, and it’s still going to be as much about connection then as it is now.
So I am relieved that I let myself feel uncomfortably vulnerable the last few months, because I let myself feel all the excitement and build-up, and then at the end, it wasn’t what I thought.
This is as good as it gets.