“You were so different back there.” (or, a year later)

A few evenings ago, a friend (who I bonded with over similar early bumbling days of having to manage – of all things! – people including once Googling ‘how to talk effectively on the phone’ goodness hahaha) overheard my conversation with an engineer on my project and later on said, “You sounded… like a project engineer back there. Wow. So different from months ago when we were groaning about still needing our senior colleagues to double-check our email replies.”

“I’ve no time!” I replied reflexively without much thought and meaning it literally because my project is schedule-driven. “Whatever float we had, we’ve pretty much used them. The project goal can still be achieved but it means that if I was looking over two things in parallel before this – now there’s four. I’ve no time to dwell about being or feeling like a Graduate anymore; it’s all autopilot now – do, do, do. Just make that project call on small items; if my call is a misstep my colleague will step in and correct.”

I recall his words from two nights ago and realized that perhaps it is true that our growth eludes us. We are – I am – hardest on ourselves such that it isn’t until someone else tells us, without much thought, “You were so different back there.”

I guess it must be true too; learning curves are most rewarding and effective at their steepest. “You want to be where mistakes happen,” my cousin advised the other day, “Not as the cause but part of the solution. That’s where the best lessons take place.” Akin to being at the center of a hurricane?

I haven’t forgotten about my aspiration – to return to the field of environment, focusing on environmental policy or think tank – but a year later, and things feel different. Growth. Hard-earned breakthrough after a year of long, cloudy days and patience, patience, patience. Clarity. The value of a moment.

God works in mysterious ways indeed.


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