Tag Archives: misalignment

The Summary Post – New Years

Over the last month, eight of Embracing Ambiguity’s authors took the time to reflect on the past year in each of their lives. 2014 seemed to offer hills and valleys for each writer – from transitions and changes in the physical spaces they lived in, to the internal turmoil of life changing decisions. Throughout the month, each author reflected on the question of “Where were you one year prior?”

The resulting blog posts are filled with a variety of emotions, but all take an honest and challenging look at the 365 days that made up 2014. In case you missed any of the posts, we’ve compiled them all here.

Happy reading!


ON MILESTONES | Author: Jon Farmer

“2014 was a year of transition and learning, and looking back, some of the best parts of the year were things that I couldn’t have predicted on January 1st. That realization calms me down and gives me hope. A year ago I didn’t know how many friends I would make, places I would travel, or things I would learn. I had no idea how the projects I was working on would turn out or how much fun graduating would be. I didn’t know my sister would get engaged or that we would spend Thanksgiving together in her home in Alberta. I had no idea that I would work beside a glacial lake in the shadow of Rocky Mountains or that I would find a new sense of calm somewhere in the 3 months of travel that followed. I entered 2014 with things to do but some of my greatest growth appeared in the unplanned spaces.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING YES | Author: Stefan Hostetter

“If anything, what changed was how I saw myself and how I understood the nature of work. In 2014, I began to see employment not only as something you can go out and find, but also as something you can build given the right opportunities. I spent the year saying yes to nearly every request made of me, rarely knowing if it would end with me being paid for anything. Often it results in a bunch of work and not much else, leading to a friend stating that ‘Stefan works for free’. But in the end, it proved to be a surprisingly effective tactic if your goal was to only get by…Saying yes to work showed me that I could create value in this world and gave me the opportunity to prove it to others.”

Read more here.

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ON BLANK CANVASES | Author: Jeff Ku

“From entering 2014, furiously wiping clean of what remained from the year before, I had produced a blank canvas, and I had started putting pencil to paper; sketching and outlining what I wanted to start seeing my life to look like.  The image isn’t totally clear yet, but there are shapes taking form.  It is just a matter of adding colour and seeing if looks right.  Let’s be honest, I’ll probably have to paint over some parts, and redraw lines and maybe even change up the medium.  But it’s a start, and that blank space doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING SO LONG | Author: Maya Fromstein

“2014 was a hard year. It brought many of my demons to the surface, despite my best efforts to have kept them hidden for the past 13 years. I learned, and am still learning, to differentiate between myself and these demons. To call them out when they act up, and to distance the blame, shame, and guilt that they bring with them…The struggle, tears, and relief all tangled together in one terrifying and new and strange and comforting bundle. I learned that vulnerability is distinct from weakness. That self care is different from selfishness. That depression is not only sadness, and anxiety not only stress. I learned that I am worth fighting for.”

Read more here.

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ON WAITING | Author: Molly Grove

” I am waiting for some big change that will alter my not only my day to day life but also my future…Not idle waiting, though I do watch more than my fair share of Netflix. Not inaction. It is a lack of control over outcomes. It is doing all that you can and putting that out to the universe and waiting to see what returns to you. You can do the best you can to bring things into your life, but in most cases, we cannot control what is coming for us, and that is scary. So you do everything you can, and then you wait.”

Read more here.

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ON A HEART BROKEN WIDE OPEN | Author: Mica McCurdey

“And so this year, I admit, my frailties often got the best of me. But (and this is a very large and important but) I like to think my heart, somewhere along the way, began to break wide open. Maybe it happened in the unexpected last minute drives from Toronto to my hometown; in dancing without care at a best friend’s wedding; in stuffing ourselves with Indian food on my living room floor; or in getting on a plane to land on an island with open arms. I can’t say if the year was overwhelmingly good or bad, as both certainly existed, but I am sure that somewhere along the way I changed.”

Read more here.

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ON THE ROAD TO EL DORADO | Author: Tyler Blacquiere

“For the last few years I’ve raced along the Road to El Dorado and after this mythical concept ofadulthood; something I naively assumed I’d see glimmering in the distance, a golden city on the horizon line, once I had figured it out, once I knew what I was doing. But I think the most adult thing I’ve been able to do these last few years, specifically, in the darkness of these last few months, is admit and accept that I have no fucking clue. Accept that my El Dorado is filled with fool’s gold.”

Read more here.

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ON MY 4-STEP PROGRAM TO FINDING MYSELF | Author: Michelle Reeves

“But that newfound solitude lead to more introspection than I had ever experienced. I feel like I know myself much better than I did last year and I am more confident in my independence now. In that sense, the Year of Michelle successfully reached its initial objective. My personal growth curve has been getting steeper and steeper every year and I hope that trend keeps up for a long time.”

Read more here.

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On Screaming Goats

Have you seen those youtube videos that cut to screaming goats during the chorus of a song? I hate them. The first time I watched one I had no idea it was coming – I was confused as to why my friend would post this vaguely fuzzy version of Call Me Maybe on my wall instead of the original. Then a goat screamed and I freaked out. Their bleating is just so jarring, and when paired against pop hooks, it seems so unnatural. Its not only surprising but overwhelming.

That feeling I get from the screaming goat videos, I’ve been getting day to day and calling “misalignment”.

It’s a feeling that grips me in the pit of my stomach, and a voice that hisses “you know better, this isn’t right”. I don’t like to admit that I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring that voice and shaking away that feeling – but I have.

It happens when I tell a lie. When I say “I’m fine”, instead of using a descriptor that actually means something. It happens when I buy a cup of coffee that isn’t fair trade. When I buy new clothes from H&M. When I go silent instead of sharing my opinion. When I interrupt someone. When I don’t ask questions. A feeling of misalignment happens when I’m not being myself, and more than anything, it feels shitty.

Sometimes I do something about it. Like when I got in to a fairly accusatory and passionate (and naive) argument with the outgoing Corporate Engagement Manager at a gala for the organization I now work for. The other time being calling out a friend on his often misogynistic language, that leaves me feeling uncomfortable  and leaves me questioning if he knows he’s being disrespectful. In both cases I certainly didn’t change anything, but at least I was “doing” something about the feeling (voicing it, learning more about it, etc.).

Despite this though, I don’t believe in perfection in people. I don’t believe that there is a universal standard of perfect for me to strive for,or to self correct to. I believe in delivering near perfect work, I believe in being the best you can be, and I definitely hold standards for right and wrong, but they don’t all amount to a definitive understanding of perfection. So what if I feel this misalignment once in a while?

I see something in the people I work with, and who I’ve had the benefit of meeting through a commitment to social justice; they have values. Values that guide the decisions they make, the way they move in the world, they way they approach problems and people. These values act almost as a point of accountability – are you being true to you? true to the world you believe is possible?

Ultimately I think the discomfort I’m grappling with is a question of what my values are, and how can they guide who I am? Being a part of the social justice community might already come with a set of assumed or implied values (justice maybe? equality?), and so the next step as I see it is to name those for myself. Against my natural tendency, the thing to do might also be to use those feelings of misalignment to indicate hidden or emerging values.

What it comes down to though is this – there are moments in my work when I feel this and that is uncomfortable. I wrestle daily if it’s to be expected, or if it’s an indicator of something else… like maybe I don’t belong in the organization I’m in. These fears are purely personal, not based on the people or organization I have the privilege of working with, and are at the root of values and alignment. There might not be a golden fit, there is no perfect, but there might be a moment of understanding where the goats screaming won’t sound so wrong but instead will be a part of the song.

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