“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are” (Part 1 of 2)

I came across this quote in, of all places, a So You Think You Can Dance episode. (note: I have no idea if SYTYCD episodes are a good place to come across quotes, because I never watch it–we stumbled across this particular episode by chance while doing some channel surfing on hulu one afternoon.) But I liked it enough that I actually made my partner stop and rewind so that I could write it down. 

My One Little Word for the year is “Forward”. I’ve heard about the idea of having a word for the year for several years now, but this is probably the first time that I chose a word and really made it stick. In December/January, when I was thinking about choosing a word, I wasn’t in a great spot, personally, professionally. I was struggling with depression and feeling stuck. I had been out of graduate school for a year and a half, and working two part-time jobs to (just barely) make ends meet. I had health insurance and a regular paycheck, so even though I was struggling, and not happy, I didn’t have the strong kick in the butt I needed to motivate myself. So I chose “Forward” for my word, and when I chose that word, the forward motion I saw for myself was finding a new, full-time job.

Ever since my time as an undergraduate working in the Smith College Museum of Art, I had a very clear vision of what my future would hold. I thought I’d work in museums the rest of my life–I loved working in museums. After several years working outside the museum field, I went back to graduate school as a way to fulfill that vision. And graduate school was an amazing, life-changing experience.

But when I started looking for jobs after graduate school, nothing seemed quite right. I found a part-time position that came with full benefits and a fair amount of flexibility, doing something that was not terribly challenging, but was fun and mostly enjoyable. I thought I would stay there until the perfect full-time position came along–6 months, maybe a year at most.

Instead of a perfect full-time position, I found a perfect part-time position about 6 months later. (This was early 2013.) It wasn’t ever going to pay the bills, it was only 15-20 hours a week, but when I saw the job posting I (very literally) pointed at it, and said “I want that job, that job is perfect.”

Of course, I procrastinated sending in my application until the very last day, and then was on pins and needles waiting. A couple of days after the day I was supposed to hear back, I was convinced I hadn’t gotten it because I hadn’t gotten a response. Then I searched my inbox and found that gmail had incorrectly categorized a general response email saying that the selection process was going to take a little bit longer than originally expected. I was delighted a week later when I was contacted for an interview.

Long story short(er, anyway), I got the job, and it was just as perfect as I thought–I loved it, they loved me back, and I thrived. The work was both challenging and fulfilling, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like my skills and strengths were truly able to shine. And the fact that I was so happy in this position made me re-evaluate what I wanted out of my career.

I love engaging with visitors in a museum–that three-way conversation that happens between the visitor, myself, and the artwork (or the object). I always will. I love working in museums, getting to see the galleries before everyone else comes in, or examine a piece of artwork in a conservation lab, where you can get so close you can literally touch it (as long as you’re wearing gloves, of course).

And yet, there was something missing. I had been casually looking at a wide variety of job postings in museum ed for over a year, and almost nothing was hitting the “that job is perfect” button for me. In fact, the closest that came was a position for “Digital Project Manager” (which also ended up being the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever received.)

So by the end of 2013, I decided that I was going to expand my search, and look outside of the museum field. And with “forward” in the back of my mind, urging me on, I applied for a couple of jobs, did a couple of interviews, but nothing came of it, until, in April, I found a job posting that absolutely hit “this job is perfect”. I said it, when family members heard about it, they said it… and despite some serious snafus during the application process, I ended up getting it!

I’ve been at the new job for just over three months now. It is perfect. It’s flexible, there’s a nice mix of challenging and yet familiar work, I’m able to do some things I love but have never gotten to do before (podcasts!), and in just the last month, I’ve even been able to start take on some new responsibilities (writing the newsletter!). The team I work with is great, there are free snacks and juice at work, and when that isn’t enough to convince me to face a 3 hour roundtrip commute (bus and metro), I can just as easily work from home.

And all of that was meant to be the first paragraph or two of what this post was really supposed to be about… But since that was such a journey in it’s own right, I think I’m going to break this story up into two parts. Stay tuned–part 2 will come on Tuesday.

Public vs. Private on Twitter–squirrel!

So, it’s been approximately a year and a half since I’ve blogged (at least in this particular blog, my own little private slice of the internets), and interestingly, when I came back to it, I found that my last half-finished saved blog post was one in which I mused about my decision to protect my twitter feed. That decision ended up making the twitter-sphere a lot less interesting for me, and over the last year and a half, I’ve been spending a lot less time there. But I’m taking a class this semester (burying the lead, hey folks, I’m in graduate school now, fulfilling my long-time goal of getting a master’s degree in Museum Education!) that requires students to be active on Twitter.

So I decided this class could be a kick in the butt to get me back into tweeting regularly, and along with it, decided to reopen my feed so I could be a part of the larger conversation again. One of the things I missed the most when my feed was protected was that I couldn’t just tweet someone at random, and know that they would see it. I felt very shut out from it all.

(An aside. This is going to be one of the most parentheses-heavy posts ever, I can just tell. I’m not saying that deciding to protect your twitter feed is always a bad thing. In fact, it’s not, and there are many reasons to choose to do so. I’m just saying that protecting my twitter feed prevented me from using Twitter in a way that I found valuable. One real life example from before I protected my tweets: I was complaining about my internet service being down, and a customer service rep contacted me via twitter to help solve my problem. A real life example of something I wasn’t able to do after protecting my feed: call out an author whose book I was really enjoying and give him the mad props he deserved.)

So, I’m diving back into Twitter. I’m using hootsuite to manage my lists (all private, as it’s just my way of organizing the groups of people I follow) and the various hashtags I’ve been following (my newest one is #iTunesU… I’m slightly in love with the new app!). And because it’s been a while, I found that I had some cleanup to do, and in the midst of doing that cleanup, I discovered that one person I used to follow, had blocked me!

I won’t lie. At first, that discovery upset me. I took it personally–what had I done, what had I said? But after thinking about it a bit, I decided that it probably had nothing to do with me at all, and really, was my world going to end if I didn’t know what this person (who I had only ever known slightly in real life), was thinking every moment of the day? The answer is no, probably not.

This post began as a lot of things. A musing on what it means to be private vs. public on twitter–that same post I began so long ago. A musing on how much social media relationships matter to us. An announcement that I was going to try blogging more (yet again. But I mean it this time. I think blogging can help keep me sane, and I need all the sanity I can get.)

Instead of really doing any of the above, I think I mostly ended up babbling. But you know, sometimes, it’s good to babble. So anyway, here I am. I’m in school, so I can’t promise to be anything like prolific, but I’m going to try for one post a week, at least. No guarantees on topic. The usual suspects (food, writing, critters, technology, knitting) are all sure to make an appearance, and I’m sure museums and education can be added to that list. If you want to follow me on twitter, I’m @wingcolor, and once again, open to everyone.