First Day Fears and Lessons From My Daughter

I quit my job in January. Currently I have two things keeping me afloat, but I don’t know if either of them are long term solutions. Both potentially could be, but I’m not sure I’m interested in either one for the long term. One is working at a church to help them with their international missions connections. This church wants to set up new partnerships and I can probably help with that process.

The other job is a sales gig for a big manufacturing company about an hour from here. There is a part of me that believes I should probably be pretty good at sales. And there is another part of me that is terrified because I have no idea what I’m doing and will probably panic and fail.

When my eldest daughter started first grade (and her first time in school) in August of this year, I watched her walk in to the school slightly terrified and having no idea what was actually happening. She wasn’t sure where to go, how she should act, if she should talk to people and ask directions or try to get there on her own, and she didn’t know what to do once she got there. I kept telling her she’s awesome and she would do fine. And she did. But it was kind of sad to watch her walk in the building with so little confidence.

That was six months ago. She’s still not 100% confortable with school, but she knows where she’s going. She knows people there, knows how to act, knows what questions to ask, understands why she’s lining up, and even what’s next on the schedule. The first week she cried in the library time because she didn’t understand what she was supposed to do. Too much pressure.

It’s not like the teachers expect her to know how to act, she was just too uncomfortable to admit she didn’t get it. I think she figured there would be some kind of penalty for not knowing everything.

Well, here I am. Walking in to sales for the first time. Slightly terrified and having no idea what is actually happening. I’m not sure where to go, how I should act, or even if I should talk to people and ask directions or try to get things done on my own. I think I’ll probably figure it out, but I’m afraid of stumbling on the way. Being afraid is probably an appropriate reaction. In six months (if I’m still doing this), I’ll probably be much more comfortable, having an idea of where to go and how to get there.

I’m afraid there will be some kind of penalty for telling people I’m new to this or that I have no idea what I’m doing or how I’m supposed to do it. The problem is, I’m so new to it that everyone will be able to tell just by looking at me. Just like my daugther was the only one in her first grade class who hadn’t been to kindergarden, I’ll be the only guy doing sales at this scale who has literally never made a sales pitch—not about sheet metal products anyhow. I’ll be standing there just looking around and wondering where I’m supposed to be.

As I write this out, I’m pretty darn pleased with my daugther. She’s only six, and she walked in to that situation terrified, but knowing this was what she had to do. She went after it until she became comfortable. She was stressed about it at times, and I don’t blame her—it’s hard to not even know what you don’t know.

Now it’s time to lean on the Lord. I would much rather go do something I already know how to do. I want to enter a field as an expert. The problem is, the only place I can do that is in the mission field in China. I can literally go nowhere else and be an expert in any other field. Some of my skills will certainly transfer over, but I’m going to have to be okay with that being the best I can hope for.

It would be a lot easier if I knew this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Or even just the next two years of my life. I should be thrilled, however, as this is the kind of opportunity where I can give it a good English try. If I fail, everyone will be just fine. Myself included. If I succeed, well then hey, cool.

Here’s to trying to follow the example of my daugther, to walk in, terrified, but without hesitation. I used to feel so sad for her being overwhelmed and afraid of school, now I’m just proud of her for being an example to her daddy.