A Moment Defined (Vol.1)

This time last year, I had just rejected an extension to my employment contract after two long years at the same company. It was a decision I didn’t make lightly. Although the work was frustrating and change seemed impossible there, it was a comfortable job with great benefits (not so much the remuneration).

When I came into the job, it was off the back of feeling like a failure leaving the job before. Caveat to this, I must mention that when I look back now, three years on, I no longer believe myself to have failed, rather I achieved as much as I could despite the barriers outside of my control.

So feeling like a failure, for the second time in two jobs, I started in a role I was barely qualified for. Responsible for more than I’d ever been responsible for before, unsure of my knowledge and capability, I was at a point doubting that I was ever capable of succeeding in my field. But over the space of 2 years, I had the leader that I needed. One who was willing to be strong at the right times, and trusted me to make mistakes and learn from them. 24 months of being empowered proved to be everything I needed. And so I reached a point where I could learn no more from that leader. We had reached the max of what could be achieved in that dynamic.

With that in tow, I turned down the extension. I left that employer with nowhere to go, but not empty-handed. I entered a difficult labour market with 2 years more experience and all the confidence that I could hold. I was employable, at the very least. But I wasn’t just looking for employment. i wanted somewhere that I could make a difference, somewhere that I could feel the culture just through the recruitment process, which had the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

But two months without a job and multiple interviews each week without finding that place hits that confidence like a sack of sh…eets.

Thankfully I found the place I was looking for shortly after that two month mark, and almost a year on, I’m still very happy and optimistic. But this is a short story of defining moments, and whilst there have been a number of defining moments in my life, today is appreciates this one.

Back yourself. Sometimes in life we need to jump into the dark and trust our instincts (based on fact). At times, hindsight will help us to regret these decisions, but even with that, we know we made the decision for the right reason.

Guise.

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Unicorns 

You can’t cage a unicorn. 

A very wise man once told me, everyone that comes into our lives is a challenge, one with learning to come from it. This stuck with me from that moment, because it rung true with what I had believed about people in my life for a long time. 

It was 7 months ago when I made a decision in my life which was not about money, but about acknowledging that as eager as I was (am), I wasn’t ready for what I wanted to be ready for. I rejected an opportunity to be someone bigger, someone more important. 

At the time I thought I had made the decision to allow myself to grow in a professional sense, I didn’t know that what I was looking for was personal guidance and growth. Demons I had hidden and thought to forget, conversations I refused to have with myself and loved ones. 

It was that decision which led me to find a unicorn. One of those overachieving,over-the-top, good at everything they do, destined for greatness kinds of people. A unicorn. One who with unruly persistence, human understanding and fortitude to bring it to the forefront, helped me find that personal growth I needed. 

But unfortunately, you can’t cage a unicorn. If you meet one, you have to know that they are fleeting, can’t be tied down, always on to the next thing. And for all the good they can do for you,you have to accept that for them, they need to move.

 So thank you. For everything. You’ll always have my gratitude, and my friendship. 
Good luck. 

Guise. 

Youthful Exuberance 

There was a time in which I was, 

Young and dumb, in arrogance,

Believing that I did know more, 

Than what I had begun to earn. 

Ignorance did feed my ego, 

Enough to elevate myself, 

Above those whom I thought moronic, 

Not understanding of perspective. 

Regret, I have none of this time, 

For I am reminded of the journey, 

To this present state of mind, 

In which I do see I was wrong. 

Not wrong in matter of the fact, 

But in my selfish imposition, 

To discount all because of bias, 

Youthful exuberance tried and tested. 

And as the years, nay days go by, 

I learn and grow and change my mind, 

Trying to steer from my opinion, 

Towards an open, flexible cognition. 

So some day as I count my blessings, 

I hope that I can sit and say, 

That I was wise enough to listen, 

Not just to stand and speak my way. 

Why Guise? 

Since putting myself a bit more out there in the last few months, I’ve been asked the same question a lot. Why Guise? (Which has been pronounced “Goy-se” “Gwe-se” amongst others, innocently). 

I guess it’s a good question. A questions which sparks many others. Why hide behind a pseudonym? Why do I feel the need to disassociate myself from my work? 

To be honest, it started off just as a gimmick, a character that I could bring to life and bring meaning to later. It evolved from that, though, because I soon developed a great insecurity about the quality of my writing, and the topics that hit close to loved ones. So it soon stopped being a character, and started being my shield. Guise had become a representation of objectivity, free from prejudice with which people may associate with my true being. 

Now, Guise doesn’t hold such a grim definition for me. This moniker of an “appearance other than me” is no longer a shackle to my work, but for me, it is becoming that character that I hoped it could be. The question is, how much longer do I need it. Time will tell, and I will grow, and needs will change. Until then, you can call me Guise. 

For the record, it’s pronounced “Guys”. 

Conquering the Uncomfortable 

There’s growing up, and then there’s growing. As we approach adulthood, and then well into this state of responsibility and obligations, we become so consumed in all the changes that are forced upon us, that some of us forget to change on our own terms. 

We don’t celebrate this enough. We don’t appreciate the times that make those little wins enough. It’s either that we find ourselves comparing to others, becoming drowned the magnitude of the greater goal we want, or are riddled with doubt that we are capable of doing good things. 

And then, we are taken by surprise, because someone tells us they are proud of us. For something simple. For stepping outside the comfort zone. 

I’ve seen this ALOT in the past week, with myself and with others. I don’t feel like I have grown for my experience, but that recognition reinforces what I haven’t appreciated in myself. And that is what will set me up to grow in the near future. 

In the cases with others, I’ve watched that growth and sense of self-belief radiate from their smile. 

I guess the lesson is to appreciate our actions, and the actions of others, for what they are. Not being disappointed because it didn’t change the world, but enjoying that you decided that the regular, and the comfortable, was not enough. And you survived it. 

Guise. 

The Taller the Tree, the Harder the Fall 

We do our best, and sometimes our best isn’t enough. Other times we succeed, and the rest of the time we’re under appreciated. 

It’s a shit feeling to give your absolute all to something and fail. Perhaps even exhausting. To taste the air upon the dire cliffs of despair. So much so, that it makes you ask, why do I even bother. 

Whether it’s a task, a talent, a relationship or a game, failure tastes sour. 

Considering though, that we are merely flesh, bone, and bacteria, it’s quite extraordinary that we do not fail at everything we do. Cognitive function (whatever that is) and behavioural conditioning actually allows us to learn from our failures and grow. So why then, with such ability do we continue to fail in areas that we should have learned from? 

I think that the hardest part of failure isn’t the disappointment from ourselves and our friends, nor even the repercussions of our inability,  but rather most ironically it is knowing that you need to return to the metaphorical horse, but simply cannot bring yourself to do it. 

The difficulty lies within convincing that voice in your own head that it’s okay to fail, everything will be fine, you’ll grow from this, blah blah. 

It is acknowledging that what is done is done, and that it is not a failure, bit rather an opportunity which did not previously exist. 

Easier said then done. Stay resilient, believe that you can do better, always keep learning, and acknowledge your shortcomings for what they were, and not what they are. 

I never was good at practising what o preach. 

Guise

Rhythm and Blues

Wake Up. Don’t hit that snooze button again. You have a train to catch, or traffic to beat, or ferry to ride. It’s time for work.

Nobody ever told me just quite how it would change. Growing up, you are warned and whinged to about the hassles and stresses of working life. “Enjoy your school days”, or “make the most of uni, they were the best times”, that’s all we were ever told. The details were omitted of the difficulties of adulthood. We assume the details and believe that it all comes down to the stresses of paying bills, and raising a family. I don’t know about you, but I was never warned about the expectations, and THAT is what has been the biggest adjustment to adulthood.

I’m no stranger to responsibility, rather than shirk it off, my personality drives me at it and I thrive on it. Expectations are different however. Expectations from your manager which far exceed either your skill set, formal training, or time capacity. Expectations from your family to be there for them, to not snap at them, keep your patience, and to be the person that they have loved as you grow up. Expectations from your friends to always be the same, smiling, and ever-happy guy they have grown up alongside. Expectations from your partner to be a caring, nurturing lover, a keen listener, and a rock firm support during their tough times. Expectations from society that we will uphold the morale good, not drink to excess, work hard in our career, turn away from drugs, avoid violence, and so on. These expectations are all valid, and it fills us with a great satisfaction when we meet those expectations, but it leaves very little for one to focus on, develop, and grow one’s self, without some of those expectations falling away to way side, leaving us with broken or strained friendships, unfulfilled career potential, a rocky relationship, or a reputation as that family member that nobody can stand to be around.

Nobody warned us of the pressure; nobody warned us of the monotony of working life, and the anxiety that comes with it. Considering the improvement for worker’s rights that we have seen in the last twenty years, it’s fair to assume that this is the best it has ever been. I don’t want to know what it was like for our parents, grandparents, and so on. Ignorance helps me sleep.

So what’s this all about, exactly? Why scrap together 650 words of whingeing about life? Is it about the pressure of a career, the monotony that working life brings, the conflicting expectations drawing and pulling us in multiple directions, or a personal vent at the state of NSW infrastructure? I suppose it’s all of the above. It’s not to say that you or I can’t handle it all, or that we are destined to failure or an asylum. It’s simply that it sneaks up on us. When our career, family, relationship, friendship, health and hobbies come at us demanding the same scarce time that we have to spare, we cannot prepare for this moment. No matter how many warnings our relatives, mentors, and acquaintances offer to us, nobody is ready at that point. We are still young, possibly immature, but ultimately overwhelmed by the spike, in expectations.

Happiness is the key. Either find something you love to do, work for someone amazing or an employer who openly shows how much they care about you, just find something, because I’ve found in recent months, is that happiness makes the darkest days feel bright (don’t you dare say a word about that cliché).

When you find that happiness, make sure you show your appreciation to the person or people who supported you when you found it tough to wake up. When you were pressing that snooze button three too many times a morning, they were your happiness when you needed it most. She is my happiness, and the reason I fought through some of my toughest times. Thank you.

 

Guise