I’ve been feeling pretty untethered lately. Adrift. Afloat in a sea of uncertainty.
Trying to find words to describe how I ended up where I am right now – which, to put it bluntly, is jobless and quarantined to my home – is no small feat. The quarantine part, I’m sure, is easy to relate to. We’re all in this together, right? But the jobless part is a little more surprising.
Because it was a choice.
For good or bad, I decided this. I resigned.
Truthfully, I couldn’t have guessed that I would be starting out on my own in a world where we’re all confined to our homes. Or, more to the point, in a world entering a global recession.
But here I am.
The path that led to this decision was… complicated. There were so many aha moments. But it took me a long while to understand. So, if only to preserve my own sanity (or what’s left of it), I’m going to try capture that path on paper. One experience at a time. Because I know that the decision these experiences led me to was right. Even if what lies ahead is entirely unknown.
This is not a blog about someone who has arrived and is detailing the journey that got them there. This is the writing of a person who is still in the thick of it – who believes with all that she is that there is brilliant light at the end of this tunnel but can’t see it yet.
This is all about being in process.
But first, let’s begin with a little context.
I’m one of those people who are continually seeking out new challenges. In the spirit of this innate desire, I moved from teaching to corporate communications about six years ago.
It was not a smooth transition, to say the least. I knew nothing about business! So, I had to learn fast and, if I’m honest, I loved the challenge.
As time passed and my experience grew, so did my responsibilities. I had the opportunity to interview local and international business leaders, getting their insights on what made their businesses unique and how they were positioning their organisations’ for growth in what we then believed to be a challenging context (I’d say the bar has since moved on that one though).
I loved it!
Slowly but surely, my confidence, experience and skill grew. In the process, however, I’d had to sacrifice many weekends, late nights, early mornings, and all sorts of away-from-home, away-from-my-small-kids time to gain that ground. Worse, though, is that somewhere in the middle of all this learning and growing, I’d come to believe that this was the norm. That it should be the norm. Honestly, I didn’t realise that I was choosing it – actively choosing to take on more and more because it felt good to be needed and right to win at something so much more concrete and achievable than the daily battles of life that happened at home.
And then, splat.
My life collided with another in a way that was completely normal but absolutely course altering. It was just another day in the job I loved. I had an interview with an incredibly successful entrepreneur who had recently retired. The purpose of the discussion was to write up a case study on success built up over a lifetime.
We began, and it was going according to plan. Great content. Because, honestly, he had so much to be proud of. But towards the end, in passing, this accomplished, world-changer said a few words in conclusion that hit me hard.
After listing all that he’d achieved, all that he had built, he added that since the day he’d packed up his office, he hadn’t looked back. Yes, he missed the people he’d worked with. But he hadn’t missed the work.
But there were things he had missed, or rather, had missed out on—his family. And, in the end, that was the measure of success he had neglected. Despite all his wealth and prosperity, he could not buy that back.
It was gone.
Like I said, splat!
The words he spoke reminded me of the opening of the book of Ecclesiastes.
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labours
at which they toil under the sun?
King Solomon and this entrepreneur had a lot in common. They had both gained what some might consider the world, but, in the end, the conclusion they reached was that it was meaningless. Solomon ends the book with these hard-hitting words:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether good or evil.
This incredibly accomplished man’s words were like a bright, blinking neon sign warning me of the danger ahead if I continued down the road I was headed on. But, to be honest, things were so busy at work that I didn’t take the time to process how splatted I was by that interview. But again, and again, at the most random times, those words – and the expression on his face as he said them – came back to me. Nagging. Pulling at the threads of my attention.
Have you ever had that?
Maybe there’s something that’s been nagging for your attention for a while. Truthfully, it was still a while before I allowed my focus to be captured. I was too busy. Purposefully so. But I’ll share more about that as we go along.
For now, I’m wondering if there’s maybe something you’ve been running from? If something’s been calling for your attention, but you’ve kept yourself too busy to take note?
Quarantine has a funny way of making that same run-from-it pace impossible – or at least – more difficult. Perhaps it’s time to let those hounds catch up? Maybe they won’t bite. Perhaps they will. But if my story is anything to go by – sometimes that’s just what you need.
Would love to hear from you!
Til next time.