More than one context of my life — health, relationships, work, finance, living situation, and more — have significantly changed over the past year. I have learned a lot, questioned a lot, and let go of a lot. In many ways, it feels like I am starting over. More accurately, it felt like I was born for the first time even though I have been alive for these years. It didn’t feel good at first. And I would like to share more about that, and the details of what has happened, and what I have learned. Hopefully, it will come. Now at 37, after stepping back from a career full of momentum and struggling to thrive and even survive at times, what matters has changed. Even though I am not yet sure about what, I sense I could write a few books.
If you’ve ever had a situation happen that was very meaningful, either at once or over time, and you look back at your life and it is different than you once saw it or knew it, you may relate. My situation was more of a shock and what felt like a fight for survival. From an ego perspective, this is what is called a disorienting dilemma. This disorienting dilemma changes everything. (I have used the term disorienting dilemma to mean something that doesn’t fit into our view of ourself and our world for years, after learning of it by Terri OFallon and Susanne Cook-Greuter. Apparently, Jack Mezirow is actually to credit for this term, disorienting dilemma.) Telling any part of my story feels incomplete, and that there is something off. Something so off that the entirety of my life until now is being…re-seen. And there are these parts of self and the ensuing life parts that are still being seen, let go of, brought together, or in some cases not yet birthed…my life has a sort of pre-dawn quality to it and yet how do I stay in contact with the world, discover how my new sense of purpose manifests, and keep showing up, even with these disparate parts?
At one point “What do you do?” was a question that brought stuttering and stammering, pain, tears, awkwardness. I now realize that some of that is because of trauma symptoms which may or may not be about work, though I suspect feels worse because I cared about my work so much. Then I started accepting that it was okay to not know. I don’t have to explain it. For years I had the challenge of naming what I do adequately, whether to my grandma when I tried to explain this part-time contract or the customs agent at the airport, or someone at a party, or a person who wants to know what Holacracy is. Even being self-employed isn’t a familiar situation to many; they ask are you going to work today? No, are you unemployed? What’s your job? None of those questions have applied for a while.
Sometimes I say taking time off for mental health. I left my old company. I am a writer. I am self-employed. Yes, unemployed. In a career transition. Consultant. Or I am going through what some call a dark night of the soul — have you heard of that?
I do a lot of things. It’s hard to talk about sometimes. Also, I stopped working for HolacracyOne in 2018, and hadn’t been a part of the consulting team most of that entire year, and officially exited in May 2019 after deciding to in January. This is a whole other story, but the point is the main thing I did…I no longer identify with or do.
What is safe, and even better, feels right or good to work on has changed for me. What matters is who we are on a daily basis, whether we are with people who we see in a work context or somewhere else.I am exploring what to do. I have a lot of interests ranging from business stuff to learning, mindfulness, Getting Things Done, wellness, mental health, trauma, recovery, writing, holacracy, listening, dogging, and more. Work will never be the same for me.
So I am starting over. I wanted to simply write a brief update. And that was actually a big ending for me. I haven’t known where to start, so I just started here. And it wasn’t the beginning. We can’t always start at the beginning. And we don’t always get to make a good ending, or any ending at all. We can always make a new start.