Most of my blog posts are planned (months) in advance with my audience in mind. I spend hours researching, writing, and editing. Today’s post is completely different. It is not planned. As a writer, I enjoy the creative aspect of writing challenges. Tonight, a give myself a challenge:
Take all the thoughts swirling in my head and put them on paper in one hour. Write for me, rather than my audience.
It’s 8:48 PM. Let’s go.
Part of me feels like a Scrooge. My fellow SLPs are on social media just so excited for the 2014 ASHA Convention. People have countdowns, are shopping for the occasion, and talking incessantly about it. Part of me is excited to see the people I’ve met via social media and others that I haven’t seen since last year. The other part of me is ready for the convention to be over.
Are five sessions impressive or crazy? I’m leaning toward crazy. I never imagined all five proposals would get accepted. I’ve got four of the five done with hours of practice ahead of me. I wouldn’t recommend submitting five proposals. They might all get accepted.
But is that the reason part of me wants the convention to be over? Not really. The reduction in stress will be nice. The relief from finishing a big project will be good.
It’s what I’m talking about at the convention…
- I’m joining several wonderful SLPs and private practice owners to talk about out of the box private practice models. I feel like my model is the model that is sinking, then floating, then sinking, then floating, but mostly sinking…
- I’m partnering with another SLP to talk about Dementia 101 for students. Over the past 18 months I have read so much about intervention for people with dementia. I have learned so much, but I hardly have the opportunity to impact people with dementia. I work minimal PRN hours. It feels like a waste.
- And I’m talking about SNF ethics and productivity. My dedication to these issues has taken up so much unpaid time, cost me a job, and set my expectations high for ethical care. I haven’t been able to find more work. I looked at my income for 2014 today. It’s embarrassing. I never imagined finding a job would be so challenging. I talked to a recruiter this morning who told me there were ZERO jobs working with adults in the state of Colorado (listed within her staffing company).
So really, I feel like I am a failure. Who the heck would want to go to a session where such a huge failure is speaking? (Cue the tears)
I know I’m focusing on the negative aspect of the situation. I think it’s human nature, when faced with a big event (e.g. speaking at a convention) for fear to kick into high gear. (Though I only fear public speaking for the hour before I speak…)
I also know that I’m operating with general society’s definition of success. Merriam Webster’s definition of success is:
“the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
: the correct or desired result of an attempt
: someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds”
We tend to focus on the achieving wealth or the desired result as our definition of success. It’s a very finite concept. You are successful or you are not.
But is success finite? My inner type A personality likes to argue that success is finite. If you can’t afford to put food on your table or a roof over your head (I can’t.), you aren’t successful.
But that isn’t the full story.
But there is another part of me (less concerned with bills) that argues success is not an end point, it’s a journey. Also that journey is not a straight line. It’s wavy, broken, and all sorts of irregular.
- So what if my business can’t take me out to dinner or pay any of my bills? It can pay its own bills. We’re getting there – slowly. And if it doesn’t work and I have to quit, I am not ashamed that I tried. Most great ideas sit in a box on a shelf.
- While full time paid work seems like a luxury right now, I do have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. When I taught a course about dementia through my local school district’s Lifelong Learning program I was peppered with comments like, “Why don’t doctors tell us information like this?”, “Any patient and family would be lucky to have you”, and “What you said made me completely change my approach with my mom. Thank you.” I am making a difference.
- While my expectations for ethical care may have impacted my income, it has opened the door to opportunities like serving as a guest editor for a journal, being elected as a board member for a co-op health insurance company, and honored with the opportunity to hear so many of your stories and be there when you needed a sounding board.
Am I failure? Despite the popular definition, I believe I am a success. I am a “person or thing that succeeds”. I do not succeed all of the time, but I do succeed. So I am a success.
In conclusion, consider these relevant quotes from a few of my favorite books.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
“Most of all, learning to fail well means overcoming our natural instincts to blame someone—maybe ourselves—whenever something goes wrong.”
― Megan McArdle, The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success
(aside) Yes, I understand the importance of a 30-something being able to pay their bills and find sustainable income. I am not so full of hope that I have disregarded this fact. I have a plan set in place to “pull out all the stops” to make this work provide sustainable income. And I have a quit date, a date when I will have to breath in the entire experience and then let it go. I will work on a career switch. Even then, having to let something go will not make me a failure. It will just be a part of that broken line of success.
9:45 PM. That’s a wrap.
A note about the picture: That’s my husband, me, and my good friend and neighbor Kat at the top of High Dune (the nearest of the Colorado sand dunes). When climbing up a sand dune at times the only thing you feel that you are accomplishing is getting sand in your shoes.