In With the New
Leaving one career for another can seem like a harrowing event to plan for.
Looking forward and not looking back is a complex situation to engage with and navigate.
After all, sometimes we have invested years of our lives in our jobs. Perhaps it took us away at times from our friends and family. Much of our youthful vigour may have been invested in our work.
My life has been in transition for several years. Training for a new career and working towards the end of another. There has been a lot of preparation both in my mind and in my heart.
My steps were methodically planned and as it happened carrying out, even past my wildest imagination. I’m happy and am where I am meant to be, doing what brings me joy. The people I work with inspire and energize me. I am engaged, committed and growing every day. For the first time in my life I get to choose my schedule, my office location, and what my work environment is like.
However, unlike my steps, some of my emotions could not be planned for. As is usually the case they come as they come, ready or not. I found myself unprepared for the grief I would experience in loosing contact with so many people I have worked with over the years. Puff they were gone, for the most part anyway. Those who I especially connected with and or have a mutual professional respect with, stayed in contact. Many I have not been able to say goodbye to in a meaningful way. Perhaps they may read this some day and know that they are held in my mind.
The emotion I knew would come and sure enough it did, was fear. It came in like a lion…. It is to say the least, a rather big step to go from the employment standards framework. For example, I now have no regular pay pay check, health benefits, sick days, vacation time, pension plan to name a few. Plus I am ultimately responsible for all my decisions, not “my boss” or my boss’s boss. I’ve had a Monday-Friday straight job for about 23 years. So this was (continues to be) a huge change for me.
Part of the fear was recognizing that this transition was actually making me sick to my stomach. I’ve always, from my earliest days, manifested stress through illness. Over the years there have been many improvements for me in this area. I used to be a chronic migraine sufferer and now headaches are occasional. Flus and colds are few and far between. However, this was such a big change that I felt it at my core which for me came through my stomach. As soon as all my work with my previous employer was done, I was almost suddenly relieved from the discomfort that had been mine for several weeks. Some may read this and wonder if that can be true. I know how my body and mind connect. Knowing to me is always an ongoing process so I am sure I will learn more, but today, writing this, I know this about me.
There have been many moments of delight through this experience too. For example sitting on my patio, in the spring sun, and eating candy at 2pm on a Wednesday-guilt free. Gussying up my bike, as my new set of wheels and listing my car for sale. Happily finding myself out of the grid lock that held me hostage for a minimum 2 hours a day for 8 years. Arriving home to my partner after work in a good mood (the former me would arrive home angry and bedraggled from the office and the traffic most days). Realizing that I approved my own vacation time, yep that was, is, will always be, very cool.
These days I am busy with sessions, meetings with colleagues, setting up my business, being the best therapist I can be.
Lately I have energy and time to spend with family, my partner and friends. I’m even making friends with strangers. Amazing what can happen when the oppression of the “daily grind” lifts! Can you believe I spent 20 minutes talking with a lady in china town about what tea set I should buy and how to clean the tea stains? Sounds simple but was it was lovely and so was she. In my busy rushed life I would have urgently picked up what I wanted/needed, not listened to advice, doubted my purchase and been left feeling I wanted more. I got more just by slowing things down. I got a feeling of fun and connectedness with a perfect stranger. Best of all my niece was there with me, seeing this. Maybe she felt the joy of it a little too.
Perhaps you may be thinking that this is well and good that I could do this but this is not possible for me. Maybe I had money saved up, maybe I had a partner when I embarked on the long journey towards my goal? The most I had was good credit and my partner (at that time) provided criticism, not support. I grew out of these circumstances. In time, as I learned to ask for it, help came, but it took a long time. Truthfully, I had to work harder then I ever imagined I had the capacity for and I learned to surround myself with people who nourished me rather then brought me down.
Life is and always will be, full of ups and downs, that is living and I want to live fully. This way it is more on my terms.
It is my belief that people come to therapy wanting something different and better from themselves then what they have had in their lives. This is hopeful and the beginning of your exploration of self. Transition and achievement are not meant to be clean or organized and it can be frightening, perhaps like hiking really rocky parts of a steep trail, deciding to have children, starting a new job, going back to school but when you reach parts of the journey that are rewarding, like a view from the top of a mountain it sure is worth it.
What are your dreams? How do you want to approach your day? What kind of people do you want to be engaged with? These were the questions I asked myself many years ago, answered them and now my dreams are realized. Maybe yours can be too.
Let’s all keep dreaming, planning, moving, hoping…