Back in 2013, I quit my job without having another one in hand. I had taken out loans to pay for my Master’s Program, we had very little runway, a fair amount of debt, but I did it anyway. I didn’t qualify for unemployment. On the face of it: an extremely bad decision.
I didn’t realize it then, but this was a turning point. I was smack dab in the middle of making peace with who I really was, which, for those of you who have gone through this, is the exact opposite of peaceful. I was in a job that was supposed to be pretty great. It was one of those jobs you wonder how people fall into: exotic, luxurious, fascinating. Internally though, there was a deep divide between the ethics and worldview of the owners and me, which led to a perfect storm of dissonance, discomfort, and dissatisfaction. To further enhance the divide were the classes I was taking. I felt like the only one who couldn’t put into use our learnings, and it was extremely frustrating. I was a changed person in an unchanged environment and was truly suffering.
It’s similar to the folktale of lucky/unlucky. Depending on your vantage point and season of life, what seems unlucky can actually be fortune in disguise. Many of the people in my world felt this to be a very bad decision. And it was a slugfest – there were so many days where I just had to have faith that I would find my way. There were many fights with Tim, many calls to those in my inner circle, working it out, many nights where I didn’t sleep. I leaned heavily on Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart – and I think this saved my sanity. So did journaling. During this time, gas prices were at an all-time high, and I remember feeling anxious every time I had to fill up the tank. I took some consulting work with some startups that kept some money coming in, but that further fragmented my concentration. On the positive side, there was more time to spend with Alex, and a lot of learning and reflection was moving me forward, albeit incrementally.
This period of time lasted 18 months. I sent out so many resumes, and it was only when I made peace and relaxed into my true self that things began turn around. I took the position I was trying to get away from: HR/Office Manager. I was seeking something in Leadership or Organizational Development, and it was under my nose the whole time, just packaged differently.
This may not be the best path for others, but I have no regrets. I went into this open-eyed. So many things came out of this period of time for me, but the most important is clarity – in health, in relationships, in work. There is a deep well of gratitude for my family, my job, for the grit that got me through this. By taking the time and working through all of the important life experiences, ideas, values, education, relationships and goals, I began to rebuild a foundation and structure in my life that represents my worldview, one that gives me a deep confidence in my voice, and what I want to contribute to our world.
Book: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron