Putting yourself out there
I came from a shy place where I cowered and sulked and thought bitterly about all the harsh comebacks I could have lobbed at my tormentors if only I had been less timid. I am no longer living in that place, and putting myself out there comes with relative ease. (I temper this statement with the "relative" qualifier because some moments are more confident than others, of course.)
When you know what you can do and what you have to offer, you might as well put yourself out there and sometimes even go into situations blindly. Arm yourself with as much information as you can, apply your own knowledge/experience to that information and put yourself out there.
Quiet and introversion
Recently I have seen a few references to the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. Small blessings, these kinds of books, that give credence to my argument that some of us are better, more thoughtful, more creative and more productive workers when given the freedom to be the introverts we are. Unfortunately this wisdom runs contrary to prevailing corporate wisdom, in which big, loud open office structures are praised as communicative hives abuzz with creativity and openness. I find them to be a source of dread and maybe a bit of private torture. It is not that I am antisocial, nor that I am living in the aforementioned shy place I inhabited as a little child. I simply find that given my own space and quiet, I can be a productive powerhouse. I feel stifled otherwise. Just as we acknowledge that people have different learning and social styles, they have different working styles as well.
Going in blind
Walking on this sort-of tightrope between the introversion of insular, independent work and the more extroverted act of "putting myself out there", I have found a fruitful stomping grounds in which, quite often, I have stumbled, not accidentally but not with a fully fleshed-out roadmap, into some amazing short- and long-term opportunities. Always going in blind (that is, not really knowing if there will be an opportunity on the other side of my putting myself out there) but never being afraid of the "no". Blind leaps of faith lead to sometimes very happy accidents and soft, yet unexpected, landings.
I would like to apply this more to my personal life. Take a few more risks blindly without thinking I need to know how it turns out. Putting myself out there in an emotional sense instead of being so jaded and guarded (although time and again, this proves to be a reasonable approach).
Motoring and bitching
In other, entirely unrelated news, it is almost time to buy a new car. I have been researching and looking for a while. I have long been a loyal and mostly happy Subaru customer. No more. The cars have been reliable enough that I did not have to think very much about whether something went wrong. Unfortunately, though, something did go very wrong with my most recent piece of motorized garbage. In some ways, it makes me rather sad because I like Subaru as a concept (in the sense that the company supports social issues and made what I felt were decent cars). However, my dealings with the local dealership (hey, Bilbolaget — you suck!) have been so contentious and problematic that I escalated my issue to the head of the Nordic region, who did nothing. Then I escalated to Japan. By this point, I was not asking for financial relief or arguing about my warranty terms. I was arguing the point that Subaru as a company, claiming to be so concerned with quality and safety, should be more concerned with the dealerships with whom they associate and allow to be affiliated with them.
I cannot say that any customer service experiences in Sweden are stellar by American standards, particularly where cars and service are involved (the US has this down to a science), but a bare minimum would be appreciated. I won't get into the problem my car had except to say that it was a very dangerous and visible (for maintenance mechanics performing routine service) problem that they failed to say a single word to me about on my previous service visit. When I returned for the next service visit, it was only then that they mentioned the problem and said the car was completely not drivable. The brakes (pads, rear discs and rear calipers) were completely shot after only two years. The damage was completely visible — but for it to have reached this level of destruction, it would have to have been visible and rather damaged the last time they performed service. This is pure and simple negligence, as far as I am concerned. This also raises some questions for me because I read (around the same time as the car experienced these problems) that Subaru had to recall three 2012 models because of total, systemic brake failure. Yes, that really inspires confidence. (My car is a 2009, but this 2012 recall calls into question the ability of the company as a whole to make reliable brake systems.)
Looking back, I realize that my experience with Subaru has never been particularly good, even in the US. Most other car dealerships (for other makes of car) with whom my friends, family and I have dealt have been communicative and proactive and very customer oriented. Subaru of Puyallup, for example, seemed put out when I took the car in for service. When my mother went there to look at cars, she mentioned the Forester, and the Subaru salesman said, knowing absolutely nothing about this potential customer, "You don't want that lesbian car." Seriously?? Given these experiences, particularly in contrast with better experiences elsewhere (including a Nissan dealer in Uddevalla, who had no reason to be particularly helpful to me), it is time to move on to some other car make (though, despite my respect for the Nissan GT-R, I won't be moving on to Nissan).
I have escalated this issue mostly based on principle. I do not expect any kind of relief or satisfaction. Somehow, I just want to make noise about this. Consumers constantly get railroaded by these kinds of situations and just do not have the time or energy to complain.