Smaller Steps Towards Bigger Things

Sometimes I write things just to get them out of my head. I write them because they just keep going around and around in circles and I can't move past them. So sometimes I write things and in writing them can move past the just feeling them and start rooting around and digging into the feelings. You could probably argue that maybe I should just keep a journal and then write blog posts about the other side. The side where I have actual answers and plans and a lesson learned. There's probably a whole different blog post about why I don't do that which also goes with me not writing drafts or scheduling posts.

But anyways.

Today was my last day of the Saturday Culinary Explorers program with which I've been volunteering and when the Team Leader said she was looking for somebody to take over team leading half the classes next semester, it only took me about 5 seconds to decide I would talk to her about it after class and probably agree to do it. I told her that in my dream world teaching kids to cook would be my full time job but I just wasn't sure how to go about doing it other than teaching private classes to kids on the UWS.

"Well, you teach those kids. You start saving up some money and you start asking around. You can start asking around now, just call schools, tell them you're a chef and you're interested in starting a culinary after school program. Ask who you can talk to and what they would need for that to happen. Just start putting yourself out there. You're probably going to do a whole lot of asking around before you actually start doing anything"

And here is the brilliant fucking epiphany I had: Change doesn't happen overnight. Real change takes time.

Hi, welcome to adulthood, Alana Margaret.

I haven't had a career goal for a while. I've been floating. My focus for the year was stability. It was on settling into New York, setting into myself. I'm usually working towards the next big thing. I set goals, I achieve them and then instead of being satisfied, I immediately decide the goal wasn't good enough and I still need to keep going. Change something new. BE BETTER ALWAYS.

Look, ultimately, "be better" isn't that bad a life philosophy. But "be better always"? Who can live up to that? When you spend all your time striving, holding yourself to standards you would never hold to anybody else, all sense of realism is lost and no accomplishment is satisfying because it's only the accomplishment of the version of your self that isn't the better self you already need to be.

So I made a really conscious effort to step away from that. To focus on the day to day. To focus on my life outside of work. To say yes. To lose control. TO HAVE FUN. I've happily moved somewhere that I can call my own. A room that is full of stuff that belongs to me. A living room where I stay up too late with my roommates drinking wine. Or, on a night like tonight, happily writing away on the couch, Fiona Apple playing softly while one of my roommates fills a blank page sitting at the table.

I have bell jar days, maybe even a bell jar week now and then. But it's been a while since I've truly had a full bell jar month. I'm not saying that's good, but it's better. And I'm definitely not saying that I don't still need to suck it up and go to fucking therapy, I'm just saying that I sometimes write more about the lows than the highs and that might be misleading.

So I've calmed down. I've worked on routine and settling. I've found myself recently saying that I'm anxious about something because it's something I'm used to being anxious about and then stopping myself when I realize I'm not actually. Obviously that didn't happen over night. I didn't wake up one day suddenly anxiety free. But I put myself out there over and over and over again this year. Sure, I've been disappointed from time to time but mostly I've been pleased and successful at creating the life and relationships I want. Real change takes time.

I'm ready to decide I want to be a culinary instructor and I'm ready to say that I have no idea what that's going to look like for me. It's a nebulous goal. I'm ready to say that I'm going to dip my toes in the water for a bit instead of just quitting my job and changing everything all at once. I'm going to keep with my volunteering through New York Cares in various culinary explorer programs (and I'll be doing some team leading). I'm going to look at places like Sur La Table and William Sonoma that have teaching classes and see if I can be an assistant or a part time instructor now, while the ice cream business has slowed for winter. I can't afford to take more time off work and teach for free, but I probably don't really need to be there 40 hours a week if I give more responsibility to my assistants and can find a way to get paid to teach a couple of classes a week.

Break things into steps. Real change takes time. Put yourself out there.

Learn the same lessons over and over again until they stick.