I came to work at Elephant Journal and I’m having buyer’s remorse.
It started with reading a few Instagram posts about ikigai, or right livelihood—that junction of what we love, what is needed or is of benefit to society, and what pays the bills.
I wanted that. I wasn’t doing that. I was doing something close in corporate Los Angeles. And by close, I mean I was writing—that is, when I wasn’t in an Excel spreadsheet doing data work.
So, when I found out about Elephant Academy, I enrolled. Less than a year later, I took the big leap (and pay cut) to move back “home” to Colorado and start this dream job as an editor.
But as an editor, I’m slow as molasses. I am not your quick and dirty gal. I’m a slow and deep reader. Critical. I pore over words because in general, I know how to smith them. I see raw metal, and I know how to shape and sharpen it.
The short of it is, I’m being seen at Elephant the same way that I see articles.
“Yes,” they say, “you are a valuable editor. And,” they say, “We need you to speed up. Without dulling your strengths.”
They’re smithing me, and it’s hard.
The kind of hard that feels almost impossible.
The kind of hard that has you waking up happy to be there, but crying at the end of the day wondering why did I think I could do this? Or, more directly, why did I do this?
Our founder, Waylon, always says we want to feel a little stretched. We want a little discomfort to let us know that we’re growing. The word little is key here, and I’ve made a big, uncomfortable discovery during my time here at Elephant:
Buyer’s remorse just might be a sign that we’re doing exactly what we need to do.
I’m uncomfortable as f*ck.
There are times in life that I get this visual of what progress feels like. It’s a ladder about as tall as the vine in Jack and the Bean Stalk. It stands tall like a skyscraper, stretching into the clouds, and each little baby step we climb a little higher. Each time we do, the distance we’ll fall if we make a slip grows.
I’m f*cking terrified of slipping, and a couple weeks ago, I felt it start to happen.
Here at Elephant we check in weekly about how our team is feeling—both personally and professionally. This week I wrote:
It’s odd how real support and reinforcement from a genuine community, when you’re not used to receiving it, feels actually less safe than standing alone, precariously, on a very high ledge—how people who serve as sturdy guard rails there to keep you from falling, at first seem to drive it home that you’re up so high.
And I do feel like I’m up high here in the best of ways—and the most intimidating. I do feel like all of this is my level up. This is where I want to be.
But in owning new things, be they belongings or experiences, there is challenge in learning. In this case, the challenge is in learning to trust both process and people.
I come from a background, both personally and professionally, that has taught me that when people offer help, support, or compliments, they have an ulterior motive.
I’m the girl whose confidence, as a teen in her awkward body, was manipulated and built up on the sexual advances and (minor) assault of a man 26 years my senior; the girl who was lured into Scientology by a promise of community—a community that only existed so long as I gave them my power and money at every cost to myself.
I’m the girl who once confided in a manager that I was having a rough time, only to have that manager blame my negative energy for the malfunction of 20-year-old office computers (yes, really). I’m the girl with no competitive bone and all sensitive, fleshy heart who, years ago, didn’t speak up when in a meeting, so-and-so claimed ideas I shared with them as their own. More than once.
So, last week when I felt myself slipping from my metaphorical bean stalk of success and as many people on our team reached out as they did, instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy and cared for, all my alarm bells sounded—and loud!
But the thing is this: Those alarm bells—those questions we ask ourselves in life when we feel buyer’s remorse—those why did I do that, or did I make a mistake, questions—show us where we are being challenged.
Buyers remorse, on some occasions, shows us where we are pressing up against the walls of our comfort zones. And in this way, our jobs, when we take on that new responsibility, or step into that new role or company, can serve as a cosmic mirror reflecting to us an area we need to work on.
As for me, my Elephant buyer’s remorse is serving to reveal outdated beliefs: the belief that business cannot be human-centered, and that people cannot be trusted; the belief that I need to be anxious and critical to thrive.
I don’t expect I’ll stop asking myself what exactly I’m doing here anytime soon. In fact, I’d hope I never do. Asking such questions of ourselves only helps to define our roles and ensure we’re being of use to something we value.
But at least I know that as I stare into the mirror that is Elephant, I’ll begin to see my own strengths reflected back to me in the faces of our supportive team. And at least I know they’re here to catch me if I should slip and fall a rung or two closer to the ground.
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” ~ Japanese proverb.
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