Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who's Going With You?

Image credit: BrittneyBush, Flickr

The other day I was talking to someone who told me he rarely goes to movies anymore because most of his friends are married and he doesn't have anyone to go with. I thought it was weird because I've been going to movies by myself for years- you're not supposed to talk during the movie anyway, and it's a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon when I'm off and everyone I know is at work,

But I admit I 've been guilty in the past of not going places when I didn't have someone to go with.  A few years ago I made a decision to stop waiting around for someone else and just go.  In town I generally run into someone I know, and when I travel I always enjoy myself.

I spent some time in New York City a couple of years ago. My friend from high school and his fiance live there, so I had a place to stay and people to hang out with in the evening, but during the day I was on my own. I was worried beforehand that I wouldn't have a good time, but actually it was the start of my solo travel epiphany: when you're on your own, you can get up when you want, eat when and where you want, and do and see only what you want.

Like you can arrive at the Empire State building at 9am and not wait in line!

The NYC trip helped me work up the courage to go to Ireland by myself. I booked a small group tour to make the planning easier. When I met my trip mates, I found out that there were five other solo travelers in the group.  It seems like I really got to know the other travelers better because I wasn't focused on a companion. I had two days alone in Dublin, but after spending five days with a group I was happy to have some alone time. And, as with NYC, there was a great feeling of freedom in doing just what I wanted to do.

Some of my fellow Irish Adventurers

Next month I'm taking a trip to Peru. When I was in the third grade, I learned about Machu Piccu, and I have been wanting to visit ever since. I couldn't find anyone with the time or funds to go with, so it will be another solo adventure.  I picked another group trip, but this one might not be the same cohesive group the whole time. I'm also practing my rusty high school Spanish with the hope that I will be able to converse with some actual Peruvians (we'll see how I do).  One day I might get brave enough to travel completely on my own.

I still really enjoy spending time with friends. I love having the opportunity to relax with people I feel comfortable with, to discuss things after they happen, and to create those goofy stories that later have you laughing over drinks until beer comes out your nose. But I'm also really thankful for the courage to go out and do things when I can't find anyone to go with me.

It's hard to wear silly hats when you're alone!

Before my Ireland trip I was really nervous about spending so much time alone. I found a great guide for solo travel, a book called Travel Alone and Love it, by Sharon B. Wingler. The author is a flight attendant who had been all over the world by herself. She covers tons of practical topics (planning, packing, safety) but also discusses the advantages of traveling on your own. My favorite lesson from the book is that sometimes you get a little lonely while traveling on your own, but lonliness isn't the end of the world. Most of the time you're busy enjoying your trip, so it's not a big issue. Really, it's a small price to pay for having the opportunity to do things you always wanted to do.

But I admit that I still dislike eating dinner in a restaurant by myself.  What things have you been relucatant to do alone?

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and try doing something you really want to do, even if you can't find anyone to go with you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watch Your Mouth

Watching your mouth can be as difficult to do figuratively as it is to do literally.

Guess what? I finally got hired for that job I originally applied for a year ago.

Honestly I think that the timing is better now anyway. Last year I was feeling pretty negative about my job and I was anxious to leave. At some point I got it in my head that I have it pretty good and that I'm lucky to work where I do. The right time to leave a job is when you still like it- it helps you feel like you have options, and it prevents you from burning your bridges.

But what I want to talk about today is the importance of watching what you say and who you say it to.

I have written about networking before- establish relationships at work by playing nicely with others and helping out when you can. Not only does this make your mom and your kindergarten teacher proud, but it can also help you get ahead in ways that you don't expect.

Last year the nurses in the ER were frequently floated to other floors. No one likes to be floated- you don't know what kind of situation you'll end up in and you have to work in a place that's unfamiliar. I found it as uncomfortable as anyone else, but I made it a point to show up with a good attitude and work hard. The fact is that a hospital isn't a very big place, and it's easy to get a bad reputation.

One of my float assignments was in the ICU step down unit. I got to work with another nurse who was really happy for the help. We had a great day together. Guess who put in a good word for me when I applied for a job on that unit?

My application included three references. I picked my manager and two other people that I expected to say nice things about me if asked. Later I found out that the hiring manager did not call any of the references, but did call another co-worker of mine, whom he knew from a previous job. I'm sure that if she'd said I was a lazy nurse or had a terrible attitude, I would not have been selected for the position. Luckily she said nice things about me and I got the job.

I'm an outspoken person, and I have been known to broadcast my opinion of other people and things. The problem is that you never know when that stuff will come back to bite you.

Consider this: what if I had shown up for the float assignment feeling resentful and grouchy that I had to be there? Do you think the nurse who worked there would have helped me get hired? And if the hiring manager called someone that I didn't get along with to ask her opinion of me, do you thing she would've had anything nice to say?

Anyway, I wish I could tell you that I will always say nice things to others, will never complain, and will only release positive thoughts into the universe. But that's crap- I still lose my temper and snap at my co-workers on occasion. However, the lesson that was reinforced for me this week is that having a lot of allies around you is a good way to get things accomplished. And that you never know who will be in a position to make you or break you. So be careful what you say!

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and for Pete's sake (and yours) watch your mouth! And if you're really brave, take some photos of yourself making baboon faces and post them on the internet.
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