Twenty years of pursuing what I love, and being paid for it.
Twenty years of stretching my wings enough to take flights of fancy, and always returning to a comfortable nest.
Twenty years of people holding out a safety net, to cushion my fall. Sometimes it’s a trampoline and I bounce back higher and higher.
Twenty years of working for someone else… But, wait. That’s not what I said or believed in. I always worked for myself, even while employed by someone else, right? Right-ish? Kind of, sort of?
Twenty years into your career, you are too old, too expensive, too opinionated, too high up in that damned ladder everyone is clambering up.
Slowly you realise that the nest gets prickly, the safety net wears off, the trampoline is missing a few springs. You realise that you are working for someone else, whatever delusions you might allow yourself.
What you truly love doing will always have to be done within the confines of someone else’s agenda and dream. That ‘someone else’ who pays your bills and fattens you up into a pro lull.
Whereto from there?
It took me twenty years to dare to take a risk. But for all the risks I consciously shied away from, I unconsciously paid for.
Entrepreneur I am not (and probably will never be). And the only way of living I’ve known and been comfortable with is one that involved a monthly salary and paid vacation.
What do you do then, when your safety net begins to choke you?
So I paused and took deep breaths. I trekked. I meditated. I negotiated terms that in hindsight were half measures, and unfair to all concerned, especially the wonderful people I worked for. So I stalled, procrastinated… and then learned to breathe again, mainly on the rowing machine.
I meditated on the saddle, knees drawn up, pull and release… again and again, enjoying the drench of sweat and clarity; working hard on my core strength, in more ways than one.
What’s the very worst thing that can happen to me, I asked myself repeatedly over the last six months. Not holding a full-time job didn’t even figure in the top 10 worst things that could happen.
Today, on my last day at a full-time job (for the foreseeable future), that doesn’t figure in the top 20 worst things either.
When was the last time I felt as light and relieved as I have in the past month? The freedom to choose and focus on what I love and am good at; the relief of not becoming immersed in what drains my energy; and the overwhelming gratitude for being surrounded by those both appreciative of what I do and supportive of what I wish to…
Gratitude above all. For even when I shied away from risks, I was always in a place and environment that allowed me ownership of my dreams (be it here, here or here). Even when I was full of self-doubt, there would be more than a few souls who would mock me out of my self-pity, and give a kindly kick to my derriere.
It’s time to respect the generous opportunities and trust I’ve enjoyed, time to pay myself… time to tighten the belt, yes, but also to become more mindful of who I want to be. Mindful that no matter how much I fret and try, I can only do one thing at a time, and that one thing should be what I truly enjoy.
More importantly, there’s only one me, and she deserves her very own trampoline.