Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

As I was writing the last post about the first month of my new job, I was listening to Christmas music.  The song “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other” came on.  It begins with the Winter Warlock saying:

I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart you know, it is so difficult to REALLY change.

To which Kris Kringle replies:

Difficult? Why look here, change from bad to good is as easy as taking your first step.

I realized that part of the change in my attitude toward work has come about through a change that I have forced myself to make.  I was not proud of my relationships with people at my previous job.  I got along great with my boss and the student workers in my office, but I never was very friendly to anyone outside our department.  I mostly sat in my office all day and only interacted with people by phone and email.  As I walked down the hall, I would rarely (never) make an effort to talk to the people in the offices I passed.  At first, I felt shy and hesitated to reach out.  So, I developed a habit of keeping to myself.  I wasn’t mean or anything, but I know that I didn’t act like I cared about anyone.  Over the years that I worked there, my behavior made me feel isolated from the other employees.  Honestly, I had no friendships with anyone except those I worked with directly.  As time went by, I felt sad about this but did not know how to change myself.  How could I suddenly, after years of unfriendliness, become a friendly person?  Like the Winter Warlock, I felt trapped in my behaviors.  I thought that it would be too hard to change my behavior, to really change.

When I started my new job, I knew I had an opportunity to really change, to reinvent myself, to break free from my old behaviors.  I knew that I did not want to continue this unfriendliness.  Even though I felt shy, I wanted to act friendly.  I made a conscious decision to adopt some different behaviors.  I think that is part of why my first month was hard.  I was working against my own ingrained patterns of isolating myself and learning to have more of an outward focus.  As I walked down the hallway, if I passed an open door I would look in and say hello to whoever was inside, instead of just hurrying by.  In the cafeteria line for coffee, I would talk to the people around me, instead of minding my own business.  I looked for opportunities to get to know people and asked them questions about themselves.  I forced myself to leave my office and walk around some part of the building when I had a moment to take a little break.  In the beginning, I really had to push  myself to get beyond my shyness and insecurity.  Instead of asking myself, “What if she doesn’t like me?” I just plunged in and opened a conversation.  Instead of focusing on the fact that I could not think of a person’s name, I said hello and made an effort to get to know her.

Over the past month, I have become more comfortable with these friendly behaviors.  Like the Winter Warlock, I am truly not a “mean and despicable creature” and I am learning not to act like one.  I have taken Kris Kringle’s advice to take one step at a time and

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If you want to change your direction
If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule be the exception
A good way to start is to stand.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
You mean that it’s just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn

The words of this silly children’s song resonate within my experience at my new job.  It has not always been easy to reach out and be friendly.  It is not natural for me, as an introvert, to look for opportunities to be friendly.  But, by taking one step at a time, it is becoming easier.  And it is already yielding huge rewards.  People are so friendly to me.  I am establishing good relationships with my coworkers and making friends.  On Friday, people kept stopping by my office, and they each stayed a minute to chat after our business was completed.  I have a sense that I am liked.  I feel comfortable in a way that I never did at my old job.  I am not the mean old Winter Warlock.  I like my coworkers.  I like this new, friendlier, me.  I feel empowered to take steps to change other behaviors.  Anytime I want to change the reflection I see in the mirror each day, I can work to be reborn.


4 thoughts on “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

  1. Belinda, I often find that ‘silly children’s songs’ are often the most profound! It’s so hard for me to imagine you as an ‘unfriendly’ person! You’ve never come across that way to me.
    As a high introvert myself, I totally relate to that ‘put one foot in front of the other’ effort to connect with others, at times. Our society is certainly geared towards extroverted qualities, and can be challenging for those that are more inner directed. Your deep inner life gives you the resources to be truly present to those around you. It’s just the challenge of communicating that sometimes! I really admire you self-awareness around this, and how you’ve made very concrete ‘steps’ to do something different this time!

    • Thanks, Sheri. I guess I would say I was friendly to those who came to me, but I didn’t go out of my way to be friendly. John reminds me that we are called to be both open (which is fairly easy for me) and apostolic (which is harder). Now, I am trying to reach out more. It’s a really big change for me but, as I said, one step at a time is manageable. It is hard to be an introvert in an extrovert world sometimes, but mostly I am accepting of the introverted way I process information. Glad you understand.

  2. Nice post, really enjoyed the way you tied everything together with the winter warlock, he is one of my favorite Christmas characters!

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