This week’s posts are from an interview I did with Rick Browne, the Director of Xavier University’s Career Center. The interview will be posted in three parts: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Rick Browne Interview: Part Two

Listening to Browne talk about his work and his passion for helping students, you would think he had permanently dismissed all the insecurities he felt as a student. He exudes a therapist’s centered self-assurance. You wouldn’t suspect he at times suffers the self-doubt that, at some point, plagues us all. Finding out Browne does have doubts makes him all the more compelling – and credible.

“In graduate school,” he says, “I realized the profound impact your childhood has on picking a career. Young people go into the world thinking they are blank slates, that they can make objective decisions about their lives. This is a gross misconception held to their peril.  You have to know your ‘blind spots’.”

Browne says he “grew up with this idea that as a man, the measure was being financially successful. If you were a good man, you made lots of money. If you’re not making enough money, you weren’t doing what you were supposed to do. I grew up with a dad that made boat-loads of money. And I internalized that. When I got to graduate school I realized that I wasn’t going to make a lot of money with the kind of work I wanted to do, and that threw me up against the first really big hurdle. I’m not done with that struggle. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be better at dealing with hurdles like this if I’d been less sheltered when I was younger.”

Many of Browne’s friends went “the corporate route” and he says he’s susceptible to believing that he’s too far behind. “I look at my friends’ Facebook pages, I see what they’re doing, where they’re going, how much they clearly make, and me, I jump in my twelve-year-old Camry after work, drive home, and don’t eat out that night. Sometimes I feel badly about myself because of this.  But when I can get past that sort of thinking, I don’t care about all the “trimmings” of financial success. Even if I had more money, I wouldn’t care.

“So much of being satisfied in life is being centered with yourself. One of my favorite centering tricks is to think, ‘when I’m 75, will I care about this situation/event or not care about it?’ The things I know I’ll care about, I’m already doing. I’ll care about playing with my five-year old son. I’ll care about taking him to what he calls ‘the muffin store’ (the coffee shop) before we go to the grocery store on Saturday. Those are the truths that matter most, everything else is window dressing.”

“Everyone has the internal battle,” Browne says. “I believe that human nature is striving. Not feeling you quite have what you’re supposed to. I think it’s how we’re built. The hardest thing is to sit with it and make peace. You have to tell yourself, ‘just because I have that unsettled feeling does not necessarily mean that something is wrong.’ And really, it’s all relative. Who’s to say where you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to have, what are the right accomplishments you should have made? You get to determine this, but do it with your eyes open to your truth.  It takes courage to figure out who you are. It’s much easier to fool ourselves versus taking a hard look in the mirror. And the decision to live genuinely and be yourself is not a decision you make once. You make this decision again and again, every day. You make your peace, and you keep making your peace.”

Click here for Part Three.