IVP - Strangely Dim - There's Good New . . . And There's Bad New

May 16, 2011

There's Good New . . . And There's Bad New

It's taken me five years to finally accept that I hate being new.

It's disappointing, really, because I've always considered myself a fan of all things new. I like to learn new things. I like to meet new people. I like to experience new places. I like to try new food. I like to buy new clothes. But somewhere along the way (about the time we moved from small-town Ohio to fast-paced suburban Chicago without the benefit of knowing or being known by anyone), I realized that consuming something new is not the same thing as being something new.

Consuming I enjoy.  Being . . . not so much.

For the last week I've written and rewritten this, my inaugural Strangely Dim post, anxious to come up with the right mix of intelligence and charm, profundity and wit, strangeness and dimness (and apparently edifitainment and sanctitainment) for which my counterparts have become well known. 

But in my quest to strike the perfect balance, I've been reminded once again of my first days in a new city and my first days here at IVP, and the angst, uncertainty and insecurity that comes with trying to find your place in an environment whose edges you're still trying to define.

So I'll say it again: I hate being new. The stress of it all, I've learned, can manifest itself in the oddest of ways -- one of which, for me, was a matter of logistics.

A little known fact about the inner trappings here at IVP: we have fourteen printers in eight different locations. When I started here a little less than a year ago, I'd pull up the list of printers on my screen and scroll over their names -- names like Production Printer, Production Color Printer, Production Color Copier, Production Color Printer Copier. Eventually I'd click on the one I thought made the most sense. Then I'd head out of my office only to wander the halls, unsure of which direction to turn or on which of the fourteen printers my paper would actually end up.

Go ahead, laugh if you must. But when you're new (no matter the context) and everything is new -- from procedures and systems to people and places to personalities and culture -- small things like not being able to find the printer (which has a document containing acronyms you can't interpret, for a meeting whose purpose about which you're unclear, with people whose names you don't know, in a culture whose nuances you haven't yet mastered) is enough to cause a breakdown of monumental proportions.

I've since learned that in business this is called "onboarding." If it were up to me, I'd skip the entire painstaking process.

Somewhere during my anxiety over writing this post and reliving the trauma of my onboarding, it dawned on me that since Easter, my fellow bloggers have been wisely nudging our hearts toward Pentecost. During a time of year in which my soul is musing more about Memorial Day plans, summer vacations and, well, anything that might seep warmth into my cold Midwestern bones, the church recalls God unleashing his something new upon the church. That day wasn't so much about being new as it was being made new.

In the process, I've been reminded that while I really do--truly--hate being new, when I ingest the patience and humility and even grace uniquely present in this new experience, I'm reminded not to simply sit and wait for my confidence to return, but to thank God in every circumstance.  I hope I never forget how it feels to be the new person, but I also hope I'm increasingly aware (and even thankful) that even when I'm wandering the halls, trying to find my way, by God's grace I'm being made new.

Thanks to the Strangely Dim team for inviting me along. I'm excited to see what new things may come our way.

Posted by Suanne Camfield at May 16, 2011 2:28 AM Bookmark and Share


Newness = instability, frustration, fear, insecurity, and... open-ended possibilities. Such was probably true after the first Pentecost as well.

I'd venture to say you did a fine job on this first post... I think it is strong on the "possibilities end" of things ;-)

Comment by: Kurt Willems at May 16, 2011 7:37 PM

suanne, great post! Glad to see you chiming in with your talented voice here at Strangely Dim.

I've lived in the same neighborhood for the past 19 years, gone to the same church for 25 years, and yet--there are always places I'm the new person. And it does throw me off balance, esp. when I'm one who likes things to stay the same...
great thoughts to mull over!

Comment by: Keri Wyatt Kent at May 16, 2011 8:49 PM

The only people who ever comment on my posts are trying to sell me something . . .

Comment by: Dave at May 16, 2011 9:24 PM

Great post - I hate being new, too, but we are indeed always being made new. Good thoughts to mull...

Comment by: Jennifer Grant at May 17, 2011 8:30 AM

Kurt, you are exactly right. I love the open-ended possibilities. They make it fun to risk and dream. And I imagine you are right about Pentecost. Thanks for the insight and the encouragement!

Comment by: Suanne at May 17, 2011 9:39 AM

Jen and Keri, always a pleasure to mull anything you write. Thanks for chiming in!

Comment by: Suanne at May 17, 2011 9:40 AM

Suanne... you are welcome. Have a great week!

Comment by: Kurt Willems at May 17, 2011 10:29 AM

Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts, Suanne! And for the record, I think you hit that right combo of sanctifitainment and edutainment. And I love that I now know a little something about the inner sanctum of IVP. =) (14 printers! Who knew!) Kudos to you, my friend--can't wait to read more of your and your colleagues' posts!

Comment by: Helen Lee at May 17, 2011 11:01 AM

Well said. The printer thing. Totally did that. The challenge to consider consuming new vs. being new, definitely made me think today. So thank you for giving me new thoughts today. Am happy to consume them and at the same time, hope they somehow empower me to "be" more thoughtful. Kudos on the post!

Comment by: Tracey at May 17, 2011 5:50 PM

Helen, first off Dave Z. is doing a cartwheel right now because someone on the outside used sanctifitainment and edutainment. You wait, next thing you know it'll be sweeping the nation. Glad you enjoyed the post (and the printers). Thanks for coming along!

Comment by: Suanne at May 18, 2011 2:02 PM

Thanks for your thoughtfulness Tracey!

And Dave, you know they only try to sell you things because they want you to write a killer endorsement.

Comment by: Suanne at May 18, 2011 2:07 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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