May 13, 2013

Ten things I’ve learned in the last ten months

1. College students’ fashion choices verge on ridiculous; some things never change. It’s awesome fun to watch.

2. Uyghur is an obscure language spoken in Western China. The University of Kansas is home to one of a handful of Uyghur language programs in the country.

3. College campuses are dysfunctional bureaucracies that somehow perk along despite themselves. This is also awesome fun to watch.

4. I would enjoy being a lady who lunches.

5. Having any job, even a part-time one on a college campus, takes mindshare and commitment and hours out of your home and officially makes you NOT a lady who lunches.

6. If I can’t be a lady who lunches then it’s good to work in a setting that challenges me and makes me feel like I have an expertise I’m utilizing and offers flexibility and also that pays you not in Monopoly money.

7. I thought I wanted to clean my own toilets. I was wrong about that, but it is possible to train your children to pee IN the toilet after you teach them how to clean the floor.

8. Salsa dancing has become increasingly popular in China during the last decade and you can build a career of researching the how and why of that as it relates to China’s relations with the U.S. and Latin America.

9. Resigning from a job over a sketchy Skype connection to Great Britain is awkward no matter how gracious and understanding the person on the other end of the line is.

10. Change is hard. It’s possibly harder for me than it should be because, well, I’m just not very adaptable.

Last August I quit my job and took a part-time position at KU. Change for the sake of change is rarely recommended, but in this case it was right. While working at the Center for East Asian Studies was definitely a stretch for me in some ways, in others it was pretty safe. I’ve blended in with the woodwork for ten months and basically punched a clock with a firm limit on the amount of time I could work. I have mostly executed relatively simple tasks assigned by someone other than me. I have also, however, learned that if I’m going to have a job to which I devote any brain power, I maybe might as well do something that stretches me a bit in ways beyond learning how to pronounce difficult names and remembering where it is that Uyghur is spoken.

I took this picture walking to my KU office on my last day of work because it was a beautiful
 morning. It now appears to me that two paths are diverging...or maybe they're converging.
Hmmm. Points to ponder.

I have some pretty great people in my life and one of them has recently helped put an opportunity in front of me to change course…again. Next week I will return to working in marketing and communications, for an organization that should also be commended for its willingness to try something new.  These people are willing to take a chance on letting me work primarily from home in an industry about which I know exactly nothing. No pressure, right? I better get this one right. Only time will tell if living through change that you’ve brought on yourself makes you better at adapting, and while I’m pretty terrified I’m also pretty excited about this one. You’ll have to stay tuned for future updates on how I handle cleaning the toilets when I work so close to them!