Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Bust and Stupid Fear

I haven't posted since Tuesday because I didn't have anything to post. The closer we get to my older son's graduation from high school, the less time I have to stamp, so expect sporadic posting in the coming weeks.

For Mother's Day, I made time to stamp, and then my camera battery died, so I still have no stamping to share. What a bust!

The battery will be recharged tomorrow, and I'll post a card. If you read Simplicity for the stamping, check back tomorrow. The rest of this post gets personal, and if you want to click away now, I totally understand. My life's not that interesting, but perhaps you might find my musings about middle-aged existential angst helpful.

Or not.

First of all, I'm getting my resume together to apply for jobs. It's time for me to get back to work. My boys are old enough to cope with my absence, Nick is heading to college in August, Jack has made phenomenal progress in the past few years, and I'm in need of a new challenge.

My preferred employment would be at a university as an adjunct instructor of English composition and literature. I did this job twenty years ago--very successfully. Teaching college suits my personality and skill set beautifully. My evaluations from students and department heads who observed my classes were always excellent. I am prompt, professional, knowledgeable in my subject (some might say a tad obsessed), extremely enthusiastic, and deeply compassionate toward my students.

This is, however, a scary transition, and I wasn't prepared for that. What is it about women that we doubt ourselves despite all evidence to the contrary? Yes, I've been a stay-at-home mom for eighteen years, but that hardly means I sat around eating bonbons and asking my children to peel me grapes. The two years before I had Nick, I worked at a major high-tech corporate headquarters as a writer/editor with all sorts of responsibility. Since then, I've worked hard as a volunteer in schools and in church, expanded my public speaking skills, taught Stephen Ministry and Bible study classes, researched the dickens out of autism, managed my son's treatment and reaped huge improvements for him as a result, organized four moves for our family, and generally keep everything running smoothly in our lives.

I am competent, smart, and talented in all the right ways. I can do this job...joyfully and well.

So why in the heck am I afraid to hit send on these applications? After all, what's the worst thing that can happen? I don't get a job teaching and end up selling books at Barnes & Noble (33% employee discount...yay!) and trying to work as a freelance writer/editor.

Not too shabby a worst-case scenario, in my opinion. Especially the discount. I buy a lot of books.

If I psychoanalyze myself, there are two possible explanations. One, I've still got work to do on the perfectionism that is the legacy of a childhood spent under the eternally disapproving eye of my father. What if I fail!?!?! How horrible!!!! My daddy won't love me!!!!

Seriously? I'm 51, and is this still hanging around in the shadowy recesses of my subconscious? Plus, stamping has taught me the value and fun of failure. Why should that bother me here? The consequences are certainly not life-threatening. The stakes were higher with my autism research.

Two, I'm feeling the pressure of having read a few too many articles about older women re-entering the workforce. But the only thing that's changed substantially in my career fields in twenty years is technology, and I'm a fast learner. Current best practices of teaching English are essentially the same. The rules of rhetoric and effective written communication haven't substantially changed in millenia. I've got this.

Just typing that last sentence made my stomach do a flip.

If you've read this far, thank you. Even though my stomach flipped, it's enormously helpful to share my feelings with you, kind and sympathetic stampers. Stampers are the best! I know I'm not alone in my insecurities, and if you're feeling a bit like me, afraid of taking a new step forward, I'm right there with you.

I also recommend reading Adam Hamilton's new book Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times. It's faith-based, if you're into that sort of thing, and extremely inspiring. I am finding it helpful, and you might, too.

Scripture tells us over and over not to be afraid. Well, I am. (Bad Christian, Susan! Bad!) But I'm doing this anyway. I'm moving forward, despite stomach flips and nausea. And if I'm overcoming my fear, you can, too.

If you feel so moved, share your fears and upcoming transitions in the comments. Let's all inspire one another to move forward.

And happy Mother's Day to all women who have mothered anyone anywhere at any time. What would we do without each other?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

PS Gratuitous family picture from George's birthday dinner last night.


  1. Thanks for sharing your fears, change is never easy.
    I did the opposite 4 years ago, when I quit my job to take care of my son. After all the years of going to work it was tough to stay home at first.
    I wish you all the best in this new phase of your life. Happy Mother's Day!

    1. Petra, you remind me of how hard the transition was from working woman to stay-at-home mom. Why should I expect the reverse to be any easier? Courage!

  2. Susan, you are an awesome communicator, and you WILL be successful in whatever God has planned for you! Keep us posted on your progress!!

  3. Susan, in the last couple of years I've worked on reminding myself that I do not need to allow the pain from my childhood to affect me at 60 years old. I'm moving forward with pleasure.

    Told my husband tonight that starting my morning at 5:35 to be home alone all day seems too early. My 3 children are married, no "happy" mother thanks in my day, then I reminded myself that they didn't ask to be born but God wanted them born! I'll enjoy the rest of my day because God planned for me to be their mother.
    Enjoy the journey of reentry into the work-for-hire world doing something you love.

  4. Hi Susan. I haven't been by in a while, and I am so happy I stopped by to see what you are up to. Transitions are difficult, but change is good and helps us grow. From what I know of you, I am completely and 100% certain that you will find fulfilling work and you will absolutely nail it! Good luck (but you won't need luck).

  5. Whether we want the change, or it jumps in our lap uninvited, change can be hard and scary but also fun and rewarding. I wish you all the best in your search!! Something good will come your way.

  6. I recently (4 yrs ago) re-entered the work force (after 16 years away). I didn't have the guts to go back to what I was doing before (programming), but I am getting there. I volunteered in schools so when it was time to get a job, it just seemed like an easy transition to get a job in a school.

    Thank you for sharing your fears with us. Hit send on your apps! Good luck! And make sure you tell us when you succeed so the rest of us can gain some courage :)

  7. Susan, you can do this. What you done in the past 18 years is much more difficult than a job as you probably know. The key is getting your foot in the door. Contact people you have worked with in the past-it doesn't matter if you have not been in contact. The best way to get a job is through people you have worked with and know your abilities. Don't forget you can often start as a contractor. I will be including you in my prayers. I know from experience God can open all doors.

    Susan Walden

  8. YOU CAN DO THIS. If you go into a job interview the way you go into a blog post - eloquent, witty, analytical, friendly and with an underlying compassion for everyone out there - they MUST hire you. MUST.
    And stop beating yourself up about being nervous. Show some compassion for yourself, too ;-)
    Wishing you the best of luck (I'm not the praying type, but I do believe in the power of extending loving thoughts and wishes, and am extending those to you!),

  9. Praying for you and your family. Do not allow the shadow of a disapproving earthly father to determine your path; your Heavenly Father will always love you.

  10. You are prepared, ready, enthusiastic, and experienced. Those attributes will get you an interview. When that time comes, you will be ready to sell your prospective employer on your skills and background. Practice an interview with an objective friend. Or if there's a Dale Carnegie course near you, work on interviewing skills so that you can gain self-confidence in presenting yourself. You're just a little rusty after the long sabbatical from paid employment. And although you don't need luck, a little can't hurt. Tell *everyone* you're looking for employment. You might be surprised at the leads that appear.

  11. I quit my job as an IT-Consultant with the birth of my first child. 20 years later I applied succesfully for a job in the IT industry. Nearly all my collegues could be my sons. And I am still one of a few women in the industry - like 20 years ago. The principles of my work over the years. Life experience cannot be taught.
    In the job description they vividly encouraged stay-at-home parents to apply.

    I could not loose anything - but I was afraid to be rejected. I knew, I would take it personal. Because it is. Someone says "No" to me. That is no good feeling to me.
    I could tell myself a hundred times, that this is normal life and happens to a lot of people. But every "We are sorry to tell you..." made me sad - and defiant. So my answer was another application.

    No, a few years later, I have a career. I never thought this to happen in this time of my life. More than 20 years ago nearly every one told me, that I will never have a come back.

    To make a long story short:
    I have no clue about the job market nor in the US, nor in your industry
    But I am pretty sure, that your first applications will be sent by the end of this day and that you will have some interviews soon.

    Good luck, Andrea
    (But only, if you won´t stop posting cards. ;) )

  12. I've been quietly following your blog for several years but I had to chime in today because this post really resonated with me. Three years ago I went back to school to train for a second career, after twelve years as a stay-at-home mom. Last week I finished my coursework, today I took my board exam, and I will walk with my classmates (most of whom are young enough to be my children) later this week. The scariest part of this adventure, by far, has been the job hunt, and in a couple of weeks I will start a new job after being out of the workforce for over 15 years. If I can do it, so can you.
    I wish could take one of your English literature classes. I'm so jealous of your future students.

  13. Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Susan! Thank you for sharing the great photo of your menfolk! Congratulations to your eldest on graduation!

    I want to wish you all the best in your job search. I'm glad you put it on paper to your stamping friends as a "practice run" of your resume, including what you've done for the last 18 years. If you say just that to a prospective employer, you've spoken your truth. It's impressive as to what you've been doing and as to your willingness to learn what you don't know about the job offering.

    When we first moved to California from Iowa, I tried to get a job in my field working in a law firm. Attorney after attorney turned me down because they would have to spend time "unlearning" me Iowa law before I could be worth anything. On the fifth rejection, I took the wheel and asked the man to give me a trial for 30-days (I had excellent references BTW) and if he wasn't satisfied, I would leave with no fuss. He agreed. I ended up working for him for five years until we moved to another city for my husband's job. Just putting that out there in case you start to get a lot of push-back because of what is traditionally considered a gap in your resume. (I would argue not.)

    The other thing that makes this time around easier is that you are seeking a job because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to like in the lean years of your marriage (I'm assuming). I found when that happened to me, I had a certain more confident air because I wasn't desperate like in those early years. So that, too, should help allay those fears. Anyway, as my experimental scientist hubby says, "There are no failures, only opportunities to learn."

    Sorry, but you know me, yakity-yak. I just want to say finally that if you were not nervous about this giant leap, that would make you arrogant. You aren't that, which is a good thing! You are the kind of human who feels good about herself and is practical enough to understand that it's going to take big girl panties. Fortunately for you, with the help of your family, your faith, and your friends, I know you have a whole drawer full! Enjoy this next work chapter of your life and keep us posted! Hugs, Darnell

  14. Wonderful photo. Your students will love you. Pray to the Holy Spirit for Him to make you aware of His presence and guidance. Look forward to the challenges with excitement!

  15. So many of the things I would say have already been said (but that won't stop me!). Being nervous is natural; none of us likes to be disappointed, which we might interpret as being rejected. I try to say instead that I wasn't chosen. I also take the attitude that God knows better where I should be employed. There may be something negative or unhealthy about a company. job site or supervisor that I have no way of knowing as an outsider. Take this as divine guidance.

    Second, here is my story: Also at age 51, I quit a job with a county agency at $16.00+ per hour in 2000 to take a job with a publishing company at $12 per hour. I left what I knew I could do in my sleep to follow a long-held dream of working in an editorial department. I was new in a 12-step program, too, and was afraid I would relapse by staying at my old job under a mean-spirited supervisor. I changed because I had to to save myself. Although that isn't your situation, I share this story because I know you can step out on faith, too.

    Now that you've expressed your fears and concerns with all of us, those thoughts aren't stuck in your head. No more stinkin' thinkin'! (From another perfectionist whose critic was her mother, who had her own issues.)

  16. Hi Susan,
    I love your blog--as much for your fine writing as for your cards. I am in my mid-fifties and am teaching literature and critical thinking at a local community college. I also teach a speech class full time (non tenure track) at a local university. Every state is different, so my remarks may not be relevant, but then again, they may! When it comes to hiring adjuncts, much depends on money and need. Even if your cv is stellar, if there is no money for adjuncts, the departments cannot hire. In my university, there is much competition for part time positions, at least in my department. I understand from my friends in the English department that there is more room there. Anyway, do not let "rejection" deter you. It may be that there is no need at present. However, at any time, the need for an adjunct may arise. It would be a good idea to talk to the chair of the department. You could even drop in during office hours for a casual conversation. Often, that is the best way to let the chair know that you are a good candidate for adjunct work. Hope this helps! Best of luck. Cindy Hanson

  17. Another thing--your blogs are huge assets! Be sure to say that you are a successful blogger!

  18. In fact, there is nothing to be afraid of!!!
    "Be not afraid" belies that there is something to be afraid of and we should resist when in fact there is NOTHING to be afraid of, which is very succinctly illustrated by you in the above post. So go on and live your best life trying as many experiences as you can and keep the good and let go of the others (Dad's approval) which do you no good.


  19. Such an outpouring of support and excellent advice. Good luck, Susan!


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