December 18, 2021

A Season of Growth and Discomfort

This has been an interesting season of my life. A growing season.

Coworker: "You free?" Me: "It's 7pm on a Wednesday, man." *sends this photo*

I started a new job at the same employer, my first ever management job, in mid-October. Brought Disco home in early November. Realized I have no idea how to ride my own horse anymore in early December.

WTF do I even do with this?

In every aspect of my life except CrossFit, in which I'm finally feeling some kind of mastery after a decade, I'm finding myself in situations where I previously felt confident, experienced and in control, and now I'm suddenly back at square one, having to re-learn everything, having to prove myself all over again in new ways.

WTF do I even do with this?

This is, as you can maybe imagine, not easy, not all at once like that. Some days I'm able to take a deep breath, lean into the uncertainty and tell myself that I am capable of learning all of the new skills I need right now and getting through this uncomfortable season of growth, and that I will be better for it in the end.

After all, I've done this before, six years ago during my first months in a stretch job that was dramatically different from what I did before, and it left me sobbing at my desk then. That insanely painful period of growth was a formative experience that left me better for it in every possible way - a better human, a better employee, a better engineer. Even though it sucked to get through.

I'm so grateful for this geriatric babysitter <3

Other days, I am not able to hold it together as well and the strain of having to learn so much so fast and deal with the discomfort gets to me in the most unexpected ways. It never strikes me in the moments you think it would - I am capable, I get the things done that need to be done no matter my mental state. My bosses would tell you (and do tell me) that I'm doing incredible in my new role, and they're getting praise from across the organization for how good and effective I am.

("Your real experience is introducing some reason into this. I appreciate your willingness to not just smile and nod - it's refreshing," - Slack message from an industry leader I've respected for years after I took a stand and passionately derailed a metaphorical train during a meeting this week.)

I'm here to derail your trains and look good doing it. No matter how overwhelmed I feel, I sure as hell am looking forward to my husband's employer's annual holiday party in January, which is a masquerade ball this year.

No, it strikes me at home, when I'm suddenly not able to get the laundry done, when the Christmas shopping gets alternately very done and then very not done in manic swings, when my normally clean office gets cluttered because I just can't, even though I have more "free time" than ever right now what with not having a riding horse at home.

I did get all five trees up and all the inside garland done. I didn't do the outside garland. Something had to give.

Why am I sharing this? Not for sympathy, I don't need or want that, I will get through this and to be honest, sympathy makes me uncomfortable. I don't need any more discomfort in my life right now.

I'm sharing it because I want to normalize it. It's okay to challenge yourself, to admit that you weren't born knowing everything, to realize that you are capable of learning new things, and to recognize that it will still not be easy or comfortable no matter how smart or talented you are. 

It's also okay to admit to myself that I'm not dealing with things as well as I normally do right now. Christmas is an especially bad time of year for that, and then layer in the third wave of the pandemic and more friends dying preventably and the guilt and anguish that comes along with that, and, well, yeah. December 2021 is starting to feel like March 2020 all over again, except this time with all the promises of normalcy in the New Year that had been given to me (ball gowns and dancing and friends I haven't seen in years and airplanes and drinking with customers in strange cities and conferences and team off-sites and hotel bars and wearing heels and...) I am not nearly as mentally capable this time around.

The one bright spot in all of this is that Disco continues to be an absolutely foot-perfect baby, which is such a relief.

I'm also sharing it because it has everything to do with my approach to horses right now. Just like I don't know what I'm doing running a team at work yet, I don't know what I'm doing with a weanling or with a coming Third Level horse either, but I'm committed to learning and to not freaking out over it. I tell myself that I will screw up, I will learn, I will wish I'd done things differently years from now, and that's just what being human is.

And then ten minutes later, I will freak out about all of that. And then I'll get it together again. And then I'll freak out again. Rinse, repeat.

So yeah, I'm not blogging as much right now, although Connor comes home next weekend, so that will probably change soon. But this post felt worth writing, and I hope if you're feeling overwhelmed or if you're in a season of growth like I am, I hope you feel a little less alone. 


  1. What a timely post and thank you for your honesty. It would be easy to just stick to happy posts vs putting yourself out there.
    I am in a challenging season as well, but for different reasons. Hopefully 2022 will be better, but I am feeling very guarded in my optimism as the New Year approaches.

  2. I know the feeling well... it feels like I'm in the ocean, with land nowhere in sight, and I'm swimming, but sometimes my head goes under the water and then I come back up gasping. I'm turning into a damn strong swimmer, but it'd be nice to hit an island and chill out for a few days ;) You're swimming the channel, but you'll make it - and come out damn strong on the other side.

  3. Taking on the farm has felt like this for the last two and a half years (which I say not because of Misery Olympics, but just for transparency in timeline). Every time I think I've gotten a handle on things, one of my mentors or advisors is like "great! here's this other thing you need to be thinking about, you know how to do that, right?" and it's a crush of learning and rushing and cramming and mistakes all at once. And -- I suspect you're a bit like this too -- once I clear off a bit of my plate I have this fatal personality flaw where I immediately heap a whole new serving of wtfamidoing onto it because of something that should get done and nobody else is raising their hand. (WHY am I renovating a house right after buying my dream horse?!!!)

    I am so glad I have a supportive family and community who don't judge me for having a weedy orchard, messing up a spray schedule, or killing a few (hundred) trees. Not too much, anyway. They seem to understand that there's going to be a lot of making of new mistakes in this life.

    Every morning right now I forage for clothes in one of the piles I have around the house, which are in varying states of clean and used, and haven't folded laundry in.... three months? I think the last time someone needed the guest bed I just put all the clean-but-unfolded laundry into boxes and stuffed it in another room. I am *that* sophisticated. So I guess the next project I should put on my plate is folding all that laundry.

  4. Really well written. You are right that you are in a growth phase which is probably a lot more stressful because it is covering more than one of your life. You've got this though, and you are coming in with the right mindset of not expecting perfection. Looking forward to your 2022 blogs!

  5. I definitely know this feeling well. You're doing amazing, even when (especially when) you think you're not or when you feel like you can barely hold it all together. Also, that gown is absolutely stunning and you look fantastic in it!

  6. Thank you for the reminder that none of us are alone when it comes to the struggle of growth and change - sometimes if feels that way. You are a badass though!

  7. I feel this to my core. I don't have a particularly stressful job, but I have two children under age 3 and I work full time. I also have 3 dogs, one of which is a 7 month old puppy. Oh, and a husband. I regularly fall behind on tasks at home and I hate being behind. I agree with having to pick and choose though. Many nights spending time with the kids is more important than having all the laundry folded. So the kids have their mom and dad time and we just dig through laundry baskets to find clothes. Thank you for normalizing life struggles and that we all have them.

  8. I can relate to this in that while I love learning new things, I still struggle to be kind to myself during the inevitable learning curve where I stress about making mistakes. It's admirable that you're constantly willing to expand your comfort zones and I'm excited for you! So much good and well deserved recognition for your hard work, PLUS a baby pony :)

  9. I handle (or maybe not...) these types of situations in a similar manner. At the end of the day, you know you are a strong capable woman, but also sometimes you just need a break. I think this millionth wave of Covid is particularly stressful because things seemed so close to normal. And now it's not. So adding that to all the other stress is just an awful lot to bear.
    I know you'll come out the other side better than ever.

  10. I think it's so easy to get wrapped up in how perfect and magical this time of year is supposed to be and totally forget how hard it is for some families and people. On top of everything else going on! Love that dress, and thank you for helping to normalize that it's normal and ok to not every everything figured out all the time.