The journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step – Chinese Proverb.
I started a new job last week. I had been fired from my last job in the beginning of May but instead of being content to solely work on my tan, I set out to find a new job. After almost three months of sending resumes, going on interviews, and deciding how far below a manual labor position I would be willing to dip in order to work (It was touch and go with filling out an application at the pool’s concession stand), I was hired.
Feelings of joy, excitement, and relief washed over me. I felt good knowing soon I would be getting a check from someone else besides the PA Department of Labor. I was looking forward to my new position (so long concession stand) and enthused about my new employer. I was excited. My kids were excited. My wife was so out of her mind with joy, she was doing the Macarena in the living room (she spent the last 3 months with me in the house constantly…I’m surprised she didn’t throw a party).
Yet, despite all the good feelings, there had been a feeling of anxiety slowly seeping its way into my mind. While I knew I was more than competent to do the job I was hired for, my brain began playing tricks on me.
“Dude, what if you can’t do the job bro?” Sometimes, when it wants to mess with me, my brain talks to me like it’s a 20 year old fraternity brother nursing a wicked three day buzz.
My brain began placing seeds of doubt. Maybe because I had been out of work for so long and wasn’t sure if I could do anything but laundry, dusting, and the dishes anymore? Maybe I was playing a sick joke on myself? Before long, I was afraid I really wouldn’t be able to do this job I was more than qualified to do. I became fearful I wouldn’t get along with my co-workers. I was scared I might forget to wear pants on the first day (I wouldn’t put anything past me). I became unsure if I should have taken the job at all? What it all boiled down to, I was facing a new journey and my nerves were preventing me from taking the first step.
Ironically enough, there had been another time in my life when I felt this way.
My high school was small so consequently, we had 7th through 12th graders roaming the halls together. It was like letting general population mingle with the guys from solitary confinement. As a pimply faced 13 year old not yet showing even the slightest effects of puberty, I was thrust in to all of this. On that first day of 7th grade, I distinctly remember my nervousness almost preventing me from walking to school. Even though, up until that point, I had done well in school. I was socially awkward but we all were, we were 13. I had friends. I had an older sister and my mom (who was a teacher) in the high school. There was no reason why I shouldn’t do well. But my brain there was my brain, placing doubt: Locker combinations, 2 minutes to get to class, showering after gym, figuring out which side of the cafeteria was the safest.
As much as my stone washed jeans (rolled tightly at the cuffs of course) tried to instill an air of confidence, I was scared. I knew I would never be able to pass any of my classes, my sister and mom were zero help, and we had heard rumors about the Math teacher. Seems he had thrown an unruly student out a window (True story. We heard it from a sophomore). I knew, I would never make it through high school.
But, like the proverb says, a journey has to start with a first step. With my Trapper Keeper and stonewashed jeans, I readied myself, fought back the nervousness, and I took the step. I figured out my locker combination, 2 minutes was plenty of time to get to class, I passed my subjects and my math teacher never threw anyone out a window (…again). By the time my 1000 mile journey of high school was through, it had worked out just fine. That’s what I was thinking about, right as I was pulling in to the parking lot of my new job.