3 Ways I Gained Perspective in My 30s

ICYMI, I turned 33 years old exactly 10 days ago (you can check out highlights from my Lady Gaga-themed birthday party here). Some folks in my position would be sad to be officially out of their 20s, but in all honesty, I kinda love my 30s.

Why do I prefer this decade of life? I’ve said this out loud to a number of people, but in case you missed it, I’ll lay it out right here, right now: I am *finally* becoming more comfortable with who I am and what I want.

As with everything, this is still a work in progress. However, as my birthday came and went, and we charge into a new astrological new year (where my astrology peeps at?!) I’ve been very reflective lately on how I got here.

And so, after much thinking and introspection, I’ve landed on three major ways my perspective has changed as I’ve embraced my 30s—and more importantly—embraced my authentic self.

New Perspective On Family

Over five years ago (has it really been that long?) my dad passed away, which flipped my entire world upside down and forced me to look at things in a completely different way. I suddenly found myself taking a step back to reflect on what actually matters, and as a result, made some changes in terms of how I live my life. Some days are better than others of course, but after my dad passed I’ve made a concerted effort to not take anything (or anyone) for granted.

How did I gain perspective? By discovering…

  • I have an amazing support system, including a wonderful chosen family in addition to my biological fam.
  • I have a wonderful husband and partner who is ready and willing to stick by my side no matter what life throws at us.
  • My parents are a part of me and have played a huge role in who I am and how I operate in the world.
  • I need to embrace my culture because it is definitely something I want to pass on to my future children.
  • When it comes to family in general, you need to hold on to the things that matter. Let everything else go.

New Perspective On Career

In one of my more popular posts, I talked about my pivot from teaching communication to working in the field of communication at Vectorworks—a HUGE deal because I thought I would be a professor for the rest of my life. Now here we are, almost two years later, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much: about leaning on my team, trusting myself, and remaining curious regardless of where I am employed. I’m proud that my efforts at Vectorworks have paid off in the form of a promotion, where I now have the opportunity as Communications Manager to lead and mentor junior writers on my team. Even though it was very scary at the time, leaving academia has taught me many life lessons that I wouldn’t have received otherwise.

How did I gain perspective? By observing…

  • Perfectionism doesn’t bode well for me in the workplace.
  • Working 24/7 doesn’t bring me joy and balance.
  • Having amazing co-workers makes the workday worthwhile.
  • Having solid mentors and managers is immensely valuable.
  • My “not enough” at work is actually great…even promotable!
  • I am capable of making a lasting impact on my team and organization.

New Perspective On Mindset

Many of my teachers/benefactors have discussed the power of meditation, but it isn’t until very recently that I’ve decided to make the effort to meditate at least 10 minutes every morning. Since beginning this practice, I have been more cognizant of staying present and observing thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. As practicing yogi I’ve always understood the power of mindfulness and breath, but through daily meditation, I hope to work on bringing yoga principles to my every day awareness, outside of the mat.

How did I gain perspective? By realizing…

  • The power of staying present reaps many benefits.
  • Being mindful in what I say and do oftentimes reduces my anger/defensiveness/fear.
  • Some deep breathing (even for a few minutes!) can do magical wonders.
  • If I surround myself with people who can serve as teachers/role models on conscious living, I am constantly reminded of what I strive for in my own life.

So there you have it. Not a mind-blowing list by any means, but certainly one that took a few decades of work to bring to my awareness.

Anything you would add? Anything I may have missed?

New Job, New Adventure: Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone and Out of Academia

Sunshine

As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I have some news to share:

I accepted a job offer two weeks ago. And it’s a non-academic job.

Now before y’all get all hype and confused and whatnot let me explain.

As many of you know, I left a tenure-track position at VCU to move back to Maryland for mostly personal reasons. My husband Derek got a promotion, and I decided that it would be better for us to be closer to friends and family (see FB note announcement below).

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However, I will admit that I also left VCU last year a little unsure of whether I am meant to stay on an academic career trajectory. The tenure-track path was really tough and stressful, (a lot harder than I expected TBH), and as much as I loved the flexibility of academia and teaching students, there were aspects of the job that (for me) were hard to contend with, such as:

Please note that this clearly isn’t the reality for everyone, but these were some of the issues that came to mind when reflecting on my own lived experience.

And yes, I will be completely and utterly honest: I know that a lot of this is on me. I am a recovering perfectionist and I’ve always gone above and beyond the call of duty when it came to work. I also get really emotionally invested, oftentimes to the point of negatively impacting my health. But lately I began asking myself: At what cost?

And so I had to do some soul searching.

This past year I was the Managing Director of the Oral Communication Program in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, my beloved alma mater. I am so grateful to the Department for allowing me to come back and try my hand at administration in higher ed, something I was interested in pursuing for a while. The added bonus was being able to see my mentors on a more frequent basis, and come back to a campus I’m familiar with and love.

I dove right into work, as I always do, trying my best to set up a calendar, trying hard not to be so upset with myself when I didn’t know how to do something, playing into my strengths and networking with entities all across campus.

But I also struggled, trying to manage expectations among the many constituencies I interacted with (i.e., graduate students, professional track faculty, undergraduate studies, etc.) and equally trying not to take things personally when those expectations could not be met (a hard enough feat when you are prone to social anxiety that includes LOTS of ruminating). I was the go-to person for faculty and student issues, which gave me opportunities to deal with conflict and engage in empathetic listening, but left me emotionally drained. I represented UMD’s basic course on campus, wrote assessment reports, and even taught a section of COMM 107 (something I had not done since 2010), but I realized that I missed my identity as a PR person.

And so, an opportunity came up to be a PR person again.

After this opportunity presented itself I did a lot of thinking (along with some discussing with my husband), and ultimately I decided to give the industry end of things a whirl.

After many many years of schooling and four years of teaching PR at the faculty level, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to go forth and finally practice what I’ve been preaching to my students.

Next week, I start my position as a copywriter for the in-house marketing team at Vectorworks, an engineering tech firm based in Columbia, MD.

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Although I’m a bit nervous, I am excited to go into the private sector, write for different kinds of audiences, get into a more structured and consistent schedule, and join a team that I seem to get along with and seems to be equally pumped to have me on board.

Did I expect to be making this career change four years into obtaining my Ph.D.? Nope. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this crazy ride we call life, you never know what twists and turns are going to be thrown at you.

I’ve decided to submit to the turn and see where it takes me next.

SO LET’S DO THIS.