I like to consider myself to be a good listener. No doubt, I can be a talker, but I can also listen. I attribute the completion of a labor-intensive Baltimore Bride’s quilt to the time I spent listening to a friend work through her relationship woes over the phone. I could have named each square after a different man she dated, or wanted to date and agonized over. “He said this and I said this and then….”

Listening to others, though, is a bit different from listening to oneself – the latter involves a lot more effort. When agonizing over my own pre-husband, relationship woes, a faithful friend trying to restore me to sensibility once said, “I’m just repeating back to you what you’ve said to me.” If I had listened to myself, I would have ended the unhealthy relationship I was in many months before I did.

If I took the time to listen to what I’d been saying about my career aspirations over the years, I would have heard them going in circles. The things I could so easily be honest about when I started plotting my career track as a fourth grader (yes, fourth grade) are not so different from what I’ve come back around to in my thirties. Fear took me on what I would, only after reflection, optimistically call the scenic route.

Fear has been a good friend of mine; I’ve almost always given it my ear and contrived a “rational” explanation of my career goals based on what it told me. I was listening, yes, but not to myself.