Cross functional learning: My Resume

I peer at myself in the mirror, squinting a little as I don’t have my glasses on. I can see new fine lines on my forehead, still a bit faint but probably more pronounced in stronger light. When I bend my head, my chin says hello to its twin. With my genes, I can’t claim that I didn’t see it coming. That and the grey sprinkled all over my shaggy short afro. I gaze at my plump body through eyes that look tired and puffy. One of them has a weirdly protruding mole that throbs when my morning allergies flare up. 

Still, I flash myself a dazzling smile. I am happy!

As I approach what Ugandans call the Fifth Floor, I am noticing more evidence of middle age on my body.  And yet, this milestone fills me with much anticipation.  When I turned 45 I started to become more introspective. I developed a tendency to evaluate the places that life had taken me, and how I had handled my business. I believe self evaluation is common at this age.

What may not be as common is the thrill I have these days, a strange new feeling that surprises and stops me in my tracks. For quite a while now, my mind has been racing, not with the usual dread, but with excitement. The only way I can describe it is to imagine if a baby in utero had those thought bubbles in comic books, and was anticipating what life is going to be like on the other side of the womb. All those noises and strange lights out there, would he be pushed out into terrifying territory? Or was the unknown going to be an exhilarating experience?  If I imagine myself as that baby, my thought bubble definitely has “Yay!!!” Yes, there are three exclamation marks.

The first part of my journey of introspection was rather melancholic. Against the achievements expected of someone my age, I was failing on all fronts. For a while, I beat my breast and wallowed in the sackcloth of aborted potential, disastrous choices and punishing consequences.

This was followed by a period when I encountered the sweet grace of a God who, I had come to learn, was not as harsh as I was towards myself. Acceptance of who I was and where I was in life came as a welcome relief from all the grief, shame and regret about my past.

The most recent part of this reckoning is startling to watch.  Startling, in a good way, like that “Wow!” when there are fireworks in the sky. There is a growing power and strength that I did not know I had, that is making itself felt and keeping me at the edge of my seat to see what is next.

My journals are filled with all these plans and goals for the next season, and some of them are wild!  How dare I think that these things are even possible? Yes, I have always been a bit on the delusional side but the things on my “To Be” list are rather outrageous. 

So I decided to dig a little deeper to figure out what gives me the courage to embark on a spectacular reboot, when my life report card has so many F’s. To directly translate a well-known Luganda idiom, I found that I was playing in the answer.

The thing that gives me the guts to face this fifth floor season with so much excitement is the very fact that I have failed a lot and I practically have nothing to lose anymore! 

There are many areas where this applies. For example, all those toxic environments that I have worked in have me acutely attuned to furiously waving, as well as subtle, red flags. I can recognize the things I will be unwilling to tolerate in future, in the work places I seek to join, and in those that I will create.

Another hard lesson is from the consequences of people pleasing and putting the needs of every single Johnny and their cousin before mine, going along with circumstances that disadvantage me, and not speaking up for myself in case I cause offence. In this new dispensation, no way!

But I think the best lessons come from my parenting journey. This remains a tough journey but even if I say so myself, I have handled it like a Boss. Being solely responsible for the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of three of God’s precious creatures has not allowed me to rest on my laurels. I have failed, messed up and messed up even more. But I always climb back in the saddle and ride on. I have learned to take myself to the Throne room of their Father and cried out in frustration, in fear and with the confidence that He will send me the help I need.  He has yet to fail me.

My children know they are loved unconditionally, that I enjoy being their mum, at least most of the time, and that they are precious to me. My parenting methods are a mishmash of African Ubuntu, Psychology Today inspired wisdom, Western-style affirmation, Scripture based faith and prayer-powered surrender to their Maker. Even the most casual observer will quickly be confused by my methods, I am after all the sweetest mean mommy, but they work for us. I have tried my best to heal from the grief and trauma that makes parenting harder, in order to protect these darlings from my pain. However, I am realistic and know that my wounds have caused them their own. Their trust funds will include therapy fees, okay?   

The point is, whatever I have learned from my experience and role as a parent gives me lots of hard earned wisdom to build on, in all the other aspects of my life.  “How now?” you wonder, with your Naija accent. Let me count the ways…

As a single mom, have I often taken the road less travelled? Been counterintuitive? Danced to the beat of my own drum? Check.  See how this will be useful in entrepreneurship, business, and finding the one who will love me well.

Have I shaken off shame and regret and enjoyed sweet grace after failure? Have I learned to face my inner critic, learned to soothe her worries for my safety and silenced her list of lamentations and limitations? Check. See how my muscles are now built for resilience in business, rebuilding personal finance, and again, the grace and tenacity needed for a long lasting love.

Am I not always fighting against the odds, getting my children the best resources for them to thrive? Finding funding for their dreams, knocking at all the possible doors until I get someone who will help them? Check. See the tenacity I need for building businesses, getting financing for entrepreneurship, and seeking spaces that help me thrive.

Did I not eventually learn to be discerning about relationships, knowing which people threaten the integrity of my family, who has ulterior motives behind their seemingly supportive actions? Did I not come to sense pedophile tendencies in some, and outright malice in others? Have I not come to treasure those who will sacrifice for my family, fasting and praying when we face bad storms, helping to clear medical bills that threaten to drown me? Check.  See how I use this wisdom to pick business partners, entrepreneurship groups, mentors, and true friends. And, yes, you got it, the one who I will love.

Haven’t I learned about being regulated, at peace and in control of my emotions? Don’t I now know what counts as self-care, and how to make sure my cup is full as a parent? Haven’t I learned to cultivate peace and guard my joy against the naysayers of this world and those who drain the life outta my poor overstretched soul? Have I not sought God with all my heart and let Him teach me how to have a cup that overflows? Check. See how I will remain centered in the midst of storms, sure of what my Lord is calling me to do, secure in the authority of the Prince of Peace, the one who knows the plan. See how I walk through the dark valleys of my life, as one who has a Shepherd like no other.

One of my business services is to create professional profiles for high achievers so I know a thing or two about writing Resumes that position people for the next level of their careers. In my case, my life Resume is chock full of achievements and lessons and they will serve me well in the next season. The next level up.

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