I drove out to State College with my colleague yesterday and I think in a span of 12 hours he went from being my ex-boss to a colleague (at least in my mind) and with it a few realizations and confidence.
When started my agency, I was nervous but excited. I went to a few first conferences with excitement, more to show folks "This is where I am now" and those folks were interested, curious, and also excited. Fast forward 18 months and there have been some ups, downs and plenty of lessons. Within those 18 months I also have fought some inner demons, particularly related to confidence. It's easy in the beginning - to ride those coat tales of being a freshman and enjoy the newness. It's tougher when it's my second or third time around and while the agency is still young, things look and feel different now. A sophomore year tale I suppose - older and wiser but still young. These past 6-9 months have been filled with confidence and vulnerability. Depending where I am on that spectrum, something can be very real or very imagined.
I realized yesterday - when I was able to look beyond my own expectations and needs and "silent contracts" - that the sadness I felt post Baton Rouge was certainly real and justified but that I only looking at one side of very complex shape. I only saw reactive behavior and avoidance and I was not in place to want that nor know why it was the case and I interpreted it as unsupported. I let it shake my confidence a bit in a super new situation and naturally, let my imagination get the best of me.
Through a host of conversations yesterday I saw that while it was reactive, it was based completely on how everything I am going through is a mirror image of what my colleague went through, following almost the same timeline.
I saw a week ago through some little gestures that this person while not the most socially graceful was interested and supportive. The terms of my silent contract had to be struck - it was unfair because silent contracts mean that only I know what I want and need and the other person has no idea and therefore no opportunity to try. Moreover, my terms were unrealistic since they were based on interpretations. I saw a little gesture and my conscious thought, he's trying. I have to re-evaluate and remember that just because someone doesn't do or say what I want doesn't mean they aren't doing everything they are capable of doing...especially people who don't have a ton of social skills to begin with.
So my New Year's resolution is as my colleague Jenny says, not to feed that monster any more. I'm calling it the sophomore monster - the one that because of where she is on the learning curve, can play both vulnerable and confident cards rather well but it yields both real and imagined (immature, silly, dogmatic) thoughts.
I'm still not certain if I am competition to this person but I'm letting it go. There are too many relationships going on here to try to sort out in a clear fashion - mentor, competitor, friend. I'm going to respect the competition line and not going to run to him with every victory or mentor like question in the future and/or assume he wants to offer up info but I'm over thinking he doesn't care. I'm over calling him my ex-boss. We are colleagues. It took me 18 months to be comfortable and confident enough in myself to use that term.