I am a fifty-one year old woman who works in IT at one of the “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.” I have worked there for 19 years, 5 months and 5 days. There have been many roles over the years and I have gradually moved up the corporate ladder. Each role has been different and brought new challenges and excitement into my life. It has also brought on a barrage of events where nausea, sweat, and wheezing take over my body. It probably explains the ginormous (yes, this is a word) bottle of antacids that I have had in my medicine cabinet for the last 19 years, 5 months, and 5 days. It’s the same feeling Adele gets every time she walks on stage. Yeah, that’s right, I’m cool like Adele!

Throughout my life, my mother has constantly preached that when something gives you that nagging “OMG, I am going to throw up” feeling, “you are in the right place at the right time.” She would quickly follow that up with “now obviously this does not count if you are in danger and lying in a ditch somewhere.” REALLY Mom? How many people are ACTUALLY found lying in ditches?

A few years back a good friend told me her mother said something very similar, which I thought was strange at the time. But the more I thought about it, the more I imagined we were in one of those really, really bad movies where we secretly had the same mother who lived a double life, with two separate families, and both of our dogs had names that mysteriously rhymed like Brandy and Mandy! I have since moved passed this lunacy, but have a DNA test at my disposal, just in case.

I digress . . .

The other day, I overheard a couple of millennials talking about what they would consider a successful career. So, I started asking myself, “Am I successful?”

I always struggle when my name and the word “success” are in the same sentence. I have been fortunate in my life to have received some accolades, but for some reason I shy away from the word “success.” I would prefer to think of it more as moments of “Scared Great.” Throughout the years it has become obvious to me that my God-given talent stems more around feeling panicked, and then somehow making what appears to be the impossible possible. This, of course, is not before I work myself up into a tizzy and descend into a dark hole where I meet the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat smirking and chanting “big fat phony, big fat phony!” Then, just about the time the Queen of Hearts shouts “OFF WITH HER HEAD,” I begin to calm down and hear that comforting voice, “You are in the right place at the right time.”

I know I am rambling but I think I can explain what I mean in a different way.

I used to ride a Harley years ago. I took the training class and passed the test. While standing in line to take the examination, I watched two people ahead of me fail the test. Antenna went up and my gag reflex went into high gear. I tried to distract myself by starting small talk with the gentleman in front of me. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember that he turned to me with a grin, called me a “chick” and said it was “cute” that I wanted to ride a motorcycle. I must have been completely out of my mind because I replied, “thank you” and then ran to the nearest garbage can. He failed the test that day but I was too nervous to even crack a smile. I did, however, do a little happy dance in my garage when I got home.

After I PASSED that day, the instructor said something I will never forget. He said “you obviously took the class and did the work. If you don’t do the work, you will eventually fail. Good for you!”

I rocked my Purple 1200 Sportster for several years after that, and most days while riding — my annoying sidekick rode with me. But I did it! And I loved being that “chick” on a Harley, despite it all. Since then I have hung up my denim jacket and riding gloves, but I am so glad there was a time when I was once thought of, by at least one jerk in this world, as being “cute” for wanting to be a biker chick.

Now, I know what you are saying . . . SERIOUSLY? You are comparing success with queasy motorcycle riding?” Why YES, I am! Because I did my homework and knew how to ride safely and I became a good rider. I was petrified at the thought of riding a Harley and thought I would fail; but I didn’t, I SUCCEEDED! This is what I mean when I say “Scared Great!” I used my fear to my advantage. Sure, I was afraid but also resolved not to fail. And despite what the cretin in front of me thought, I passed that day and he did not (happy dance!). If you are afraid of something and conquer it, that is what I would call “Scared Great!”

Over the years, I have grown to appreciate my puke tendencies and even considered it my secret weapon. I named it “Burt.” But I don’t want to sound like I have self-confidence issues all the time. I would not be where I am today if that were the case. But there will always be those special assignments or challenges in life, when my mother’s words escape me, and I become one of those social media memes, “I Don’t Always Fail, But When I Do . . .”

As I mentioned above, I am fifty-one and I work in Information Technology for a great company. In today’s IT world, fifty-one is considered ancient. I started my career when Apple was . . . well, just a piece of fruit. In the world of IT today, I might as well be aging in dog years. There are so many young talented kids (yes, they are kids) around me. They are bright, tech savvy, and full of ideas that amaze me every day. Do I secretly loathe them for being so pretty and talented? Of course, I do. And some of them need sent directly to their parent’s basement without dinner. But they do inspire me and I feel energized and eager to take on the next challenge regardless if “Burt” rears its ugly head.

I guess in the end, success for me starts with turning my stomach inside out, working hard and being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. So far, it has worked for me because I have been surviving this corporate merry-go-round while supporting an antacid habit for a very long time. Instead of admitting to having some modest successes in my career, I would just rather say I am very blessed to be SCARED GREAT!

Now, on to my next challenge . . . getting this article published! I think I am going to need a breath mint?


By R.K.