You Worry About You (Taking Charge of My Narrative)

by Claire Schmieder, Volunteer Manager
previously published 8/5/14

You Worry About You (Taking Charge of My Narrative)

Claire.Schmieder.SeniorEditorBoth of my boys had the same wonderful Kindergarten teacher. Like most educators, she has tons of bite-sized bits of knowledge for her students. Occassionally, I would end up applying those bits to my own life and one in particular has stuck with me over the years. Whenever a kid would try to rat out someone else for minor rules being broken or would try to butt into someone else’s business, she would tell them, “You worry about you; let them worry about themselves.”

This little aphorism has definitely helped refocus me over the years. It reminds me not to get bogged down in other people’s drama; it reminds me to maintain self-direction and positivity; and it reminds me to take care of myself.

All that has led me to do some serious thinking about where I see myself in the next 10 to 15 years. For real, though; not in the “what do I need to say during this interview to make sure I make it to the next round” way.

I’m crafting my narrative and I’m taking it very seriously.

I’ve taken lots of things into consideration.

First, the stuff with my family:

My kids will both be adults in about 10 years, which means I can devote a lot more time to working without sacrificing the close relationship I have with my boys (that comes from being able to spend a lot of time with them). I’ll also be way more mobile – I can move and/or have a significantly longer commute. And, I’ll also be able to work longer hours (i.e. get more done).

Next, I’ve been assessing my personality:

Am I open to new experiences? Conscientious? Extroverted? Am I a leader? And, because there are lots of ways to be a leader, if I am one, in what ways?

I’ve also been thinking about my skills:

What can I actually do? How does that make me stand out? Make me useful to others? Am I willing to learn new skills? Are there skills I want to acquire but haven’t yet? What skills will I actually need going forward?

And my talents:

What am I good at? How can I leverage my talents to support my future plans? Do I have any hidden talents? Do any of my talents make me stand out? If so, how?

And there are the things I’m passionate about:

If I was working at midnight on a Friday night, what would I be doing? When I read articles or blogs, what topics come up over and over again? Where am I volunteering? What does that say about my passions?

Sometimes, this narrative-crafting thing can be difficult.

Like quitting even though I don’t want to let other people down or deal with judgment. Like sticking up for myself even when I’m scared. Like being vulnerable and putting myself out there in order to take a risk. Like acknowledging when I’ve made mistakes and deciding to learn from them.

But it’s also very rewarding.

Through this process, I’ve learned to be open to all types of new experiences and opportunities to learn while taking into consideration the level of time commitment and my willingness to see it through. I’ve also accepted that it’s a fluid experience – I can’t be so committed to my plans that I can’t (or won’t) change direction if necessary.

Most importantly, I’m staying in control of my future. I’m worrying about me.