Listen carefully, my Professional McFlys. When you’re traveling back in time, hold on to your seats, because it gets a little bumpy when traveling down memory lane.
Recently, I took the trip myself; I stumbled on an old textbook propped up on a dusty bookshelf while rummaging through my belongings, and it swept me back in time. I didn’t have a DeLorean at my disposal, per se, or the frizzy-haired scientist that comes along with it as side kick. Just me and my re-discovered memories.
My memories surfaced from some secret compartment in the crevices of my brain (they settled there, collecting dust over the years) and I began to feel overwhelmed. As my pulse began to rise, I looked around for a place to sit and prepared for the inevitable – an onslaught of emotion (more on emotions and wearing them proudly on our sleeve here).
‘Why get emotional in the first place?’ I asked myself, referring to the rush of adrenaline we experience when embracing our rigorous training past.
I took up this question that very same day – the day my past came back to the future – and decided to search for some answers. For those who want to read more on the specific details of my medical school memories, I’ve written more on that particular ride (in Nutty Medical School Memories: Stuck Between Barbara Streisand and an Almond Joy). No DeLorean was harmed in the writing.
Emotional Roller Coasters.
When we board the emotional roller coaster of a memory ride, we are often surprised by our own visceral response. It can happen to any professional out there – lawyer, nurse, chef, or business magnate; even the wacky scientist next door, who’s experimenting with time travel. Anyone advancing their life or career, in fact, can relate. The pre-requisite is simply having ‘worked you butt off’.
Which type of memories am I referring to (ie what qualifies as inducing emotion)
You’ll know the type I’m referring to. Tackling these memories first hand will cause you to “look like you’ve seen a ghost” – a line Doc mutters to Marty in the Back to the Future trilogy, to which, like Marty, you’d reply:
“You’re not far off!”
By giving in to them, we’re forcing ourselves to revisit the ghosts of our past.
Navigating Through Roadways of Our Past.
We all stepped excitedly onto our professional roads, way back in the day.
What we didn’t prepare for was this. Although the road was paved with our good intentions, it didn’t necessarily end up perfectly paved the entire way through. Some of us grabbed compasses, to help us along. But even with those, our path often faltered.
(can you, incidentally, imagine if someone had invented a Waze with Directions for the Road to Success? The app could safely steer us through the ups and downs of training and right up to our graduation stage!)
What with the potholes, confusing signage, and various detours along the way, we all naturally fell off course once or twice. Often times more.
Some never actually got back on the road, for a variety of reasons, or when we did, it was in an entirely different direction altogether.
But at the end, regardless of the bumps along our trajectories, we made it. So why do we still react the way we do – so gloomily – to those memories, when we know they were necessary building blocks to our successes of today?
Standing Up for Ourselves.
I considered the possibility that there’s more at play here than just the memories themselves; that the emotional kind of responses some of us experience are due to different reasons altogether. It intrigued me – our individual emotionality – and it seemed especially timely now, given that ’emotion’ suddenly became a popular trending term, thanks to a turbulent day in the US open.
So to the readers out there who relate to feeling verklempt, when flying through your own set of memories, I say: we are the collective professional McFly‘s – when we revisit our past, it can feel quite overwhelming.
Should we resist the power of these memory temptations? Are they somehow bullying us, like the Biff Tannens of our past?
I think the real bully here – the Professional Biff at play – isn’t actually the way in which we interpret our past, but rather, how we look at ourselves today, and how we look into our future.
Professional Biffs are, in fact, the road blocks standing in the way of the path traveled today. Because we’re still traveling down a road. We always will be.
In fact, when there is no more road to travel on, there is not longer success to achieve.
Who is Professional Biff.
Our Biff‘s hold us back. They’re our haters. Our frenemies. Even those who don’t quite get what the ‘big deal’ is, in our pasts.
They have tunnel vision, clouding better judgement, because they’re looking in from the side. It’s easier for others to focus solely on current success, rather than appreciate that behind every success story lies a taxing past. I call this as wearing resentment goggles. It’s part of the business casual mentality of today’s workforce (the Competitive Couture line), but it isn’t at all fashion-forward.
Then there’s the most intimidating professional Biff of them all – the professional herself. Our self-inhibitions wrestle inside of us (good ‘ole Imposter Syndrome for one), tugging at our coats and pulling us down to cower, in fear of our own shadow. They serve no other purpose than to bully us, with the most dangerous loaded weapon of them all – the metal bat equivalent of the Back to the Future Biff – our very own thoughts.
STAND UP TO THEM!
The best thing a Professional McFly can do is to let go of Professional Biff’s holding her back.
Remind your inner McFly that earning a rightful place in the professional world didn’t happen overnight, but resulted instead from culminating years of hardships and strain (a cringe-worthy blend of emotional, physical, and financial, discussed in the upcoming Anatomy of a Professional’s Past). Stand up, tall and proud, and cut yourself slack when recalling the past.
Because – great scott! – emotion is the new 2018!
Tweet Away, if you would:#The path to becoming #professional isn't at all easy: although the road itself is paved with your good #intentions, it doesn't necessarily end up perfectly paved the entire way through! @SoMeDocs Click To Tweet Wearing 'Resentment Goggles' causes tunnel vision that clouds our #judgement of successful people, thereby causing us to forget hardships endured to earn said #success. Click To Tweet
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