blazer: hand-me-up from my brother (similar) // blouse: Forever 21 (very similar) // jeans: Gap Factory // shoes: LuLu*s (love these) // scarf: thrifted (last seen here) // bag: Old Navy
photos by Chelsea Laine Francis
Want to hear a fact about me that will literally surprise no one? I always wear a blazer to my annual review. Even to my former barista job. I get so absurdly nervous before a review that I always feel like my stomach is going to fall out of my butt. Not because I think I’ve done a bad job; I’m really confident in my work! I just can’t help but worry that I’ll be blindsided with news that I’m actually not as good at my job as I’ve thought, or, worse, that I’m no longer valuable in my role.
Over the weekend, I was on a work retreat and I convinced everyone to take The Enneagram. If you’re not familiar, this is one of those personality tests similar to Myers-Briggs that tells you some interesting stuff about your strengths and weaknesses. I’m always interested at work to learn how my personality type can work best with others by really understanding each other on a deeper level, rather than just forcing our own personal strengths on one another.
I was actually surprised by the title of my results: The Achiever. That is, until I started reading the characteristics of my type. Strengths: Optimistic and upbeat, staying informed, good motivator, being able to make things work efficiently, able to recover from setbacks and charge ahead to the next challenge. These are great and all, but what really struck me was how deeply I identified to my challenges: the fear of not being — or not being seen as — successful, struggling to hang on to my success, comparing myself to people who do things better (even if not my own thing), and being exhausted from always being “on.” Man, that last one is really the kicker.
I’ve always been a person who worked harder than everyone else. Not in a “first to arrive, last to leave” sort of way, but in an “I need to have three jobs in three different fields in order to be satisfied” type of way. I was over-curriculared in high school between theatre, speech, choir, and other activities I picked up along the way. In college, I was a full-time student with three different jobs at any given time. Even once I graduated, I felt like I couldn’t just stick to one thing. Now, I’m an Editor by day, podcaster by night, and blogger by every minute in between. And, if you know me well, then you’ve definitely heard me consider taking on a side gig too when I see an opportunity that I think I’ll find enjoyable.
A hard truth I faced this weekend is that I am afraid if I stop being “on” for even a minute, I’ll lose my success. Friends have been suggesting for the last few months that I should take a blogging break, since I can’t remember the last time I did. I had a decent-sized meltdown a few weeks ago when I picked up a few writing assignments for a new project and, as literally as one can, ran out of words. I fought the idea of taking a break so hard. This is a space I love! Won’t I be irritable or anxious without putting energy into creating content? But, I realized, what is more honest is that I’m afraid that a week off will result in losing you. Losing a sponsor. Missing out on an opportunity. Being seen as inconsistent or losing my balance.
It’s in my nature to want to be stable, dependable, responsible, and, most of all, successful. I love hitting publish on a post and seeing it go live the next day. Watching comments to come in on a blog post or likes on an Instagram photo is my modern version of receiving words of affirmation from people who find value in what I do. I want, need, so deeply to be valuable to people.
But I also know that I can’t be valuable to everyone, and I can’t be valuable to anyone if I run myself into the ground. It’s almost silly — this is a lesson I’ve had to learn again and again and again. Like, at least six agains, if not probably way more. Having such a visceral reaction to reading “finds being ‘on’ all the time exhausting” was enough for me to recognize that I need to take a step back. I’m not going anywhere, but I’ve got to be a little more realistic and gentle with myself regarding success. Funny enough, all of these realizations parallel perfectly with my New Year’s resolutions!
I’m so interested to know what your Enneagram type is! I linked to the free test above, and it’s a quick one you can take when you need a break from responding to emails. If you happen to be a Type 3, The Achiever, like me (and like Dago, coincidentally), how can we be better? (Gosh, isn’t that such a Type 3 thing to say!)