by Lauren Van Schepen
follow me on Twitter: @laur_saurus
I’m hoping this doesn’t get me in trouble. I’m hoping it doesn’t make me seem lazy or complacent. I’m hoping I won’t be ousted from the board of an organization whose core mission is professional development. But I’m going to risk all that and say: I think I need to be better at the in between.
I have spent each year of my life, for as long as I can remember, striving for the next thing. I always wanted to be older, at the next school, on the next level. After school it continued; my eyes were always on the next city, job, apartment, relationship. Harder better faster stronger. This drive has served me well. I graduated from a well-respected school, made a life for myself in a new city, and my early career has gone as well as I could have dreamed. It’s also created a restlessness in me that I see holding me back from enjoying the present.
I am 3 months into a 2 year position that I’m falling more in work-love with every day, and that doesn't seem like enough. I know my work is important; I know I’m good at it, and I don’t know how to enjoy that. I feel like I should have an insurmountable challenge to lean into. Some developing to do. I have noticed myself wondering how much time to spend learning the context of my position, how much to open up to coworkers, or even –at my worst – looking for problems in a place I thoroughly enjoy. The short of it is this: I don’t know how to be content professionally.
YNPN Twin Cities exists to “provide and promote professional development opportunities for young nonprofit professionals.” A worthy mission. But how do we measure that development? It’s wonderful to get a promotion, to hone in on where your passions lie, or start a position in an organization you love. But when those benchmarks become the goal, when they’re the language we use to describe our progress as a professional or a person, where does that leave us in the in between times?
How are you in the in between? What does professional contentment look like to you?