This FWT, beyond being incredibly rewarding in a personal and professional sense as I developed a keener understanding of myself and my skills and what I want to do career-wise, has brought me to explore several themes key to my future management of my own life: Adaptability, Dependence, and Balance.
I’ve had a hard time most of my life dealing with plans canceled last minute and unexpected difficulties tend to pile up on me pretty hard. Since FWT is a period full of nothing but the unexpected, usually completely removed from usual support bases, it can be especially hard. My last experience wore me down pretty good, and that was only replaced by a study abroad term that was even more difficult. So this FWT I made the conscious decision to work from a place of greater comfort. I was beginning to worry that I was not capable of working (functioning really) at all, so I knew I needed to take a couple steps back and really approach things in a manner that would give me time to reflect and grow. And in this way I have finally learned, adaptability is key. I have to be ready for whatever and able and willing to do many kinds of things. I tend to get too invested in a specific idea or way of doing things, and it can really freak me out when things change unexpectedly. Working from home this FWT really gave me a chance to address that. Because I was in complete control of my schedule, I could ensure some things could be standard or went the way I wanted, while gradually opening myself up for the unexpected and novel in different areas of my life. I established a consistent daily schedule that was easy to stick to, working 4 1/2 hours a day starting at noon, so that I didn’t have to get nervous about not meeting other’s expectations of timeliness and performance, something that always ends up dragging me down. And I took up cooking. Consistently trying new things every day and challenging myself to cook for a family of four, and doing it with my boyfriend’s mother, which was an awkward and unfamiliar situation that I had to force myself to adapt to and open up to, allowed me to overcome many of my fears that had been steadily growing about my own capabilities and value. A willingness and openness to change and not being obsessively committed to one idea or way of doing things seriously allowed me to take some of the stress off and relax some of my anxieties about failure.
As I wrote about before, having other people to help you with things can make life so much easier–and all your efforts so much more effective. However, I have a serious problem achieving balance in this aspect. I tend to be too dependent in my personal life and too distant and expecting too much from myself in a professional capacity. I stayed with my boyfriend and his family this FWT, which allowed me to exist in a comfortable and familiar space and also reassured me that I would have him there every time something when horribly wrong. It also, however, forced me to interact with his mother, something that makes me so, so anxious, because she is an “unfamiliar” person, even though I’ve been around her quite a lot. By taking just a gradual step of interacting with her through the process of making dinner, I learned valuable lessons of interpersonal collaboration. Which sounds silly, because she should technically be closer to a friend than a work superior and we were only making dinner, but this nightly interaction greatly helped me to extend more openly to my FWT supervisor and, gradually, to additional resources in my work environment. I need to continue learn more about how to manage my relationships and establish a better balance. It’s not fair to the people around me to dump everything on them because I refuse to open up in a public setting and end up with a bunch of pent up anxieties and difficulties. It’s definitely not healthy either, not for my relationships or for myself because this kind of lifestyle inevitably ends with me crumbled into a useless pile from feeling overburdened in the world and useless at home.
This idea of balance funnels into the most important aspect when considering my future: How am I going to live it? I want to be a mother, and I want to be able to dedicate myself to my home and my family. I want to be able to cook a nice dinner every night, like I did for much of FWT. I want to have the freedom to express myself and enjoy my life. I want a healthy balance. I am really bad, however, at actually keeping to such a thing. I get intimidated or discouraged, and completely give up on one thing or another until I come back around at it several months later feeling refreshed–only to experience some small failure and give up again. I’ve never dealt well with failure. Having an actually successful FWT this time around and in the process systematically reassuring myself that I can indeed be successful at things has, however, been a great boost to my confidence and my sense of endurance. I think I understand better now how to navigate the world in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve completely overburdened myself. Life is, of course, a work in progress, but I think I see now a path to my own success and finally understand how I can actually function as a worker and not just a housewife.