I wrote this post almost six weeks ago when I was about to embark on a positive change in my life. My computer is on the fritz so hence my absence since then. I was apprehensive about this move — the last missing piece in my effort to “live my stars” — but intuitively I knew it was the right decision for me. And now six weeks later even in the midst of this country’s current turmoil, I have never been happier. I like to think that being internally fulfilled will only enable me to make positive change externally. “Because when you’re operating from a place of wholeness and value, you see value in other people and you reinforce the belief that there’s enough to go around for all of us. So in this sense your self-worth is a service to humanity,” writes Danielle LaPorte in her book The Desire Map. Such power in that statement. Here goes…
Many folks have used the word “surreal” to describe the year that is 2016. I personally like the following quote a friend shared with me recently: This has not been a good year for women who try hard.
I’ll drink (and march) to that.
But for me, 2016 was a year of serious self-discovery. And although I wouldn’t necessarily categorize the vast majority of those weeks as a reflection of depression, most of those weeks really sucked (my elementary school English teacher would mar me for using that word but I can think of no better usage – okay maybe a few?).
Right before the actual election happened, I was focused on creative living and letting go of the things that inspired little to no creativity. I was also practicing self-compassion, allowing myself to be okay with feeling any kind of pain so that I could understand it and more easily bounce back.
There was just one problem.
It was no longer inspiring creativity. And it’s not to say I didn’t have the support I needed or even wonderful colleagues to lean on, but there was just something missing from the day-to-day. It had turned into a workflow of systematization and evaluation — the same processes that had motivated me to quit my post-college job and go back to school for creative writing.
How did I get back here?
No wonder every day felt like a battle. I wasn’t just fighting external forces outside of my control — I was fighting myself.
Change is Rocket Science
I did not just up and one day decide to quit my job. This was my career. I wanted to fight for it. So for a long time I took the proactive road. I looked for opportunities to re-shape my position and elevate myself within the organization. I re-connected with colleagues socially and attended professional development events. I met up with a few young professionals like myself looking for that “right” career and even hired a life coach.
Yet I was still coming home depleted. I would have emotional outbursts with just a little bit of met resistance. My energy was catabolic. I didn’t feel satisfied. And the only thing that got me through the rough weeks was my coloring book.
And some amazing friends.
But it wasn’t enough. I felt empty inside. I had no energy. At one point I even thought there was something wrong with my thyroid (this proved false). I changed my sleeping patterns. I started eating more protein. I took vitamins. I lifted weights. I did more pilates and yoga. And still I felt empty inside.
So after a year of reflecting on my circumstances and proactive resolutions, I realized I could never mold myself to be one with the organization and its opportunities for growth and development. This job had been the perfect position for me after graduate school. But in those three years, I had changed, and I no longer fit the job.
I could continue to invest more time in my role and hope that it would develop into something magnificent. It had already evolved in my short tenure there, but the organization would need to change in order to fit the role I desired. It didn’t seem LATEOTT (light at the end of the tunnel) would ever arrive. Maybe that’s because LATEOTT wasn’t a new role with the organization? Maybe LATEOTT was a new role completely?
So in September of last year I started applying for more jobs. I went on a few interviews but nothing seemed “right.” And then the election happened. I’ve never seen DC so bleak. The day after was a crowd of black shadows and silent transportation. Nobody knew what to make of it, and many of us sunk into a month of unhappiness and robotic movements.
I knew then I wanted my professional life to have more of a voice. And I knew in order to feel complete and satisfied, I needed more creative opportunity. I also really needed better coverage for my diabetes. So the day after the election I got a callback. It was surreal.
Damn, Those Gremlins
After a series of interviews, I realized this position was the one. Because women often don’t apply for positions they don’t deem themselves “qualified” for, I went out of my way to apply for positions I wanted and knew I could do but maybe didn’t meet 10 out of the 10 qualifications. This happened to be one of them. But somewhere in the depths of my mind, those old gremlins were still there.
You’re not good enough. They deserve better. You can’t do this. You don’t really want to change. You’re comfortable. This won’t make you happy.
Except none of those statements were true. I am good enough. I can do it. I do want to change. I am not comfortable. I am bored. And I am stimulated by change so of course this will make me happy. I will thrive. I will be satisfied. I will be challenged. It’s scary for sure. But totally worth it. And I wanted it.
I was offered the position and accepted. And merely a month ago I left that other career path behind and started a new one. But I didn’t really change paths, did I? My path just evolved in a way I never foresaw. And by being open to it, I am already reaping the rewards.
Because when I come home at the end of the day, I feel satisfied. I am full of creative energy. I haven’t been this inspired since I was in graduate school. I am sleeping better than I have in months. I am actually getting up early on the weekends. And oh my god I am eating again! I have an appetite. I haven’t had an appetite in months. I am lifting weights again and reading so many books. And being social. I look forward to coming home and having some time to myself. I take walks almost every day on my lunch break.
Six weeks ago I wrote about how hard it would be to leave an environment that I worked so hard to create and relationships that mean the world to me. Damn, it was hard. I actually almost cried on my second day of my new job because I missed it so, but that’s because I was grieving. I didn’t take any time off in between. But then I asked myself: what would your future self say?
Exactly what my brother said to me many moons ago during a depressed time in my life: the person you will become is worth it. And I haven’t forgotten about those relationships. I am still holding on to them. They mean the world to me and always will. Everyone was so supportive — I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off.
But here I am in downtown DC amidst a time of change. Sometimes it just takes a while for us to realize the change that internally, we were already making. Here’s to 2017.