Does everyone do this? Anyone out there? I have a big decision to make about my job. In truth, and as is my way, I’ve been circling around this decision for a year, waiting for the “right time.” Waiting for a sign. Waiting for the “now.” Waiting for someone to make it for me: fire me, promote me.
Today might be the day. So here is what I read in my horoscope this morning, from Lenny Letter (so you know it’s true).
Although it can be scary at first, it can be very refreshing to be reminded that the world is much bigger than you: whether that means it is bigger than your plans and ideas for yourself, wider than your beliefs about life, or stranger than what you thought was supposed to happen. Keep following the path of the big, wide, and strange wherever it leads you this month.
This is what came in the mail last week. A postcard made at a reunion with my college roommates, aka, the Rapture Sisters (why that name is a story for another time). Linda had the good idea to make postcards to mail to each other at some unspecified day in the future. She brought all the supplies: blank postcards of a very nice stock, pictures and stickers and such for decoration, stamps. Other than that, no rules and I approached it as I do any blank sheet of paper: get started and hope that something will occur to me.
What confuses me, a little bit, is that I recall making postcards for the four other women. I don’t recall making one for myself. But this is very clearly my handwriting, except for the Happy New Year note at the top.
Whatever, it tracks nicely with a mood I wrote about going back to work last week. Feeling like I needed an external force for motivation and inspiration. Even a postcard from another (or me in another mood, if that’s what this is). Feeling unambitious, unconnected, restless. Feeling like a fraud at work which, I have since learned, has a name: Imposter Syndrome. From Wikipedia:
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.
That’s me! I thought when I read this, feeling vindicated, as one does when one receives a name for a condition, however spurious (sorry, Restless Leg Syndrome Sufferers).
Carl Richards, the Sketch Guy, captures perfectly the feeling in one of his napkin sketches, above. Which is a kind of postcard to himself, I suppose.
I know “late blooming” mostly refers to an adolescent’s delayed development but this time of year, it puts me in mind of paper whites, which I like to grow during the weeks before Christmas. I started a few pots of them early in December but in our cold and dark house — kept this way because no one is ever home — they seemed delayed in their development: stumpy and gnarled like fetuses, like bulbs (which are flower fetuses, you could say), only loosely rooted in their cold beds of stone and dirt. More like graves than beds, come to think of it.
But then the holidays were truly upon us and I filled the fridge with food and the kids filled the house with messy bags of their stuff and carols filled the air and there were packages wrapped in bright paper and fires in the hearth and Christmas cards stacked on a silver tray and stockings hung with care.
And in response to all this, the paper whites bloomed.
Or maybe it was just because we finally turned the heat up.
More in my series of signs, this one injecting a whole lot of hope into a rainy morning. Could even call it an article of faith, since hope is so often paired with faith (and charity). Recalling now a family who called their daughters Faith, Hope and Charity. But that’s a story for another time.