“You don’t need to make every life decision right now. Careers happen in tiny increments,” I say to a client the other night.
I can feel her anxiety, so I continue, “Take it slowly. You have time.”
I’m advising a recent college graduate who’s looking at life in its fullest all at once.
She feels overwhelmed and I’m creating calm and steadiness so we can talk about her aspirations.
“Life unfolds in baby steps,” I add as I think about how daunting it is to try to take on the entire rest of your life right at this moment.
We continue to have a fruitful discussion about her goals & desires and speak of next steps.
As I disengage from the meeting, my words of wisdom to her stay in my mind.
“Baby steps,” I say to myself as I reenter teenage world.
Talk about daunting.
Here they are – the 13 and 15 year olds ready to take on the world.
Or so they think.
Often, I feel overwhelmed thinking of them going off on their own.
I think, ‘What do they know? What don’t they know?’
I recall a time this summer when I knock on the door of an empty and dark house to pick Nick up.
I text him – no answer.
I check my watch and yes, it’s the agreed upon time.
I text him again – still no answer.
I’m annoyed as I verified the time a ½ hour before pick up.
I’m concerned as I need to get Katy in 15 minutes.
I call him.
“We’re at Burton’s having dinner,” he tells me when I ask where he is.
I yell at him and head off to pick Katy up at her friend’s house. I get there and the girls are at Starbucks. It’s dark, it’s pick up time and her friend’s Mom is a tad oblivious to my irritation. I grab the girls, drop the friend off at her house and head home.
Obviously, we have a discussion about the teenager’s responsibilities to communicate with me. I make new rules for changes in plans while they are out with friends.
Okay, I think, I covered further detailed specifications of rules when out with friends.
I remember Nick bringing an overnight bag on a recent trip and then finding out there was nothing in the bag. Apparently, he ran out of time, so grabbed the bag with out filling it.
I talk to him about hygiene and duplicity.
Okay, that’s hopefully covered.
“This is Frank from the post office. We have a package from Great Britain without an address. It only has your phone number.”
I didn’t order anything from Great Britain, but Nick likes the soccer shirts from the UK Soccer Shop. Perhaps, it’s a package for him.
After picking Nick up from school, I head to a post office warehouse, knock on the door to accept a package I’m skeptical to accept. There are actually two packages and neither look like a shirt. I tell myself it’ll be fine and joke with Nick about anthrax.
I open the smallest package cautiously.
I sigh as I reveal a present Katy has ordered for one of her friends.
When I get home, we have a conversation about completing the address lines on an order.
The other day, Nick asks how to make his new favorite breakfast – toasted English muffins with melted cheese and ham.
“Toast the English muffins, flip them over and put slices of cheese on them. Then, broil them on 400 degrees for 2 minutes,” I tell him.
He rolls his eyes as he realizes there are more steps then he wants to deal with to make a quick breakfast.
But, he’s hungry and motivated.
He starts toasting the English muffins and as I’ve been in the kitchen all morning, I leave.
A few minutes later, I hear Katy yelling, “What are you doing?”
There’s smoke pouring out of the kitchen.
I run back, open the doors and windows and look toward Nick.
He’s standing in front of the toaster oven. He turns and looks sheepish.
“What happened?” I ask.
Nick steps aside and I see cheese melted in the toaster oven.
He put it directly on the wire rack.
After I finish laughing, I talk to him about only melting things on top of food.
Jeez, talk about baby steps.
I think about our next milestones – serious dating, driving, finishing high school, college….
As I start to feel overwhelmed, I remember my conversation with my client.
“Baby steps,” I whisper.
I don’t have to take on all of the next milestones at once.
I can take it in small increments.
I smile and breathe a sigh of relief.
Thankfully, life happens in baby steps.
As always, wishing you joy,