I woke up this morning (late – which is becoming a trend as my body starts to catch wind of the fact that we won’t have to do this for much longer) and even though I only had ten minutes to get ready and get out the door, I remained under the covers while fluffy little Kaia snuggled up against me, demanding her morning cuddles. I stared up at the ceiling and said out loud, “Nine more days.”
YES. I’m glad.
Now, I spend a lot of time here talking about how excited I am, what a great opportunity this is, what a gift I’ve given myself, how eager I am to make good use of the time afforded to me once I’m no longer working. And I really do feel that way. So please don’t misunderstand. Being scared is only part of what I’m going through. I’m also thrilled. But as the days tick down and the moment grows nearer, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous. Change is always accompanied by uncertainty.
I have stayed at this job as long as I have due largely in part to my health insurance. I wanted to stay on until early October, October 2 to be exact, so that I could keep my insurance until the end of the month. (My boss didn’t feel that staying on until early October was fair. She said that if I wanted the insurance until the end of October, I needed to stay on until at least mid-October. Otherwise she’d be paying for my health insurance without the benefit of having me work here. From her perspective, I get that. I also won’t go into how ridiculous I think it is. I digress…) So, I’m grateful to have my insurance until the end of the month and I’ve been using it for things like annual checkups and any prescriptions I might need. And it dawned on me that I might be able to squeeze in a few sessions with my old therapist too.
So I got in touch with her, checked out the insurance situation, and it turns out that my particular carrier and plan is the only insurance she takes. It seemed destined that I should make an appointment, so I did just that. I’m a bit anxious about it, because I haven’t been in therapy for several years, but only good can come out of chatting with her. I’m going to see her this Wednesday and will hopefully check back in with her a couple times before my insurance is gone at the end of the month. I think it will be great to revisit her for a few sessions as I enter into this major life transition. She knew me “when” and she knows me well. It’s going to be like seeing a long lost friend or a family member you haven’t talked to in years. Except it’s a family member whose personal life you know nothing about, you don’t even know if she has kids, a dog or if she’s allergic to pizza. Even so, I’m looking forward to it. This was a good decision on my part because it will help calm my nerves about this experience.
Another way I’ve allayed my anxiety recently is this: I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish before my last day at this job. Look into this, call so and so about that, brainstorm about this, write that. It was overwhelming the hell out of me. I’d sit at this receptionist desk everyday completely unable to tackle any of the big ticket items on my list, those things that I originally thought would be great ways to prime myself for my upcoming freedom. But I recently realized that those things I want to look into, write, brainstorm and meet with people about are the things I’ll want to be doing once I leave my job, not while I’m still here. Those are the things I’ll fill my days with, the ways I’ll keep active and sharp, until something more concrete presents itself. So I took them off my list to be revisited later and I can breathe a bit easier now that there’s not much remaining on the list of things to do before my last day besides, “Go to dentist.” Which I probably won’t do anyway. Because I HATE THE EFFING DENTIST. I’d rather drink a milkshake made from glass.
My fears remain, though. And they’re coming from a few places. For one thing, looking around at the state of the world right now makes me wonder if this was the right time to make this move. I stand firm that it was the right time for me personally. And I believe more in that kind of timing than I do in timing based on the global economy, for instance. But when I read things like a blog entry recently posted by my friend Marina about her painstaking search for a part-time job, I get a little nervous. Granted, Marina and I are at different places in our lives, looking for different things, and to compare my situation to hers is not a good use of my mental energy. But it’s hard to read about her woes and not anticipate some of my own as I feel empathy for her.
Another place my fear comes from is my recent understanding of how impulsive and ultimately half-invested I can often be. I will dream up a new project, aggressively tackle it for X period of time, and then become bored, lose interest and neglect it. This is a trait I share with my good friend Blue, who often talks and writes about how difficult it can be for her to really commit to a project and see it through to the end without bouncing around to other things first. From the outside, a trait like this might seem like laziness or immaturity but I can tell you from standing inside it that it most certainly has nothing to do with that.
The inability to commit, or perhaps, conversely, the ability to dip your toes into several different streams, and to maybe even swim a few strokes down those streams before realizing that this might not be the ideal stream, has so much more to do with craving something that’s a great fit for your personality than it does with being lazy. It has more to do with the desire to find something that’s truly exciting to you, to spend your time in a way that’s truly fulfilling to you, and not to let yourself off the hook about seeking out the lifestyle you dream of having. So I suppose I can choose to view my bouncing around as a positive trait, one that will aid me and has aided me on this journey. I definitely want to impart to other people that there’s nothing wrong with trying dozens of lifestyles on for size until you find one that fits. How are you supposed to know what’s right for you without trying it on first? And anyone who judges you for changing your mind can go climb a tree.
But it can be a little embarrassing and humbling to put it all out there like I’m doing with this blog. I try not to shout from the rooftops about any of my new big “plans” unless and until they’re a bit more realized, but the bottom line is that I’m going to start projects that I don’t finish. I’m going to come up with career changes that I don’t end up implementing. And I’m going to share it with all of you. When I began writing about this process, it was never meant to be pretty or neat or tied up with a bow. Finding out who you are and what you want to be when you grow up comes easily to some people, but there isn’t such a simple answer for others. There’s nothing wrong with trying on different hats along the way. And I’m glad I’ve been able to bravely share with you all the different aspects, as messy as they sometimes are, of choosing to find your bliss. I’ll wear the messiness as a badge of courage, I suppose.
Still, when every other day is met with my new “brilliant” plan or a new big idea, I grow a little fearful that I’m going to be this way forever – that I will never decide on a path and invest fully in its realization, that I will be 50 years old and still trying on different hats. Maybe that’s okay, who’s to say. But I worry about it.
Again, that is fear. And I need to follow that fear and see where I come out. And I need to quiet that fear and trust that I am a capable human being. And I need to remind myself that I’m so young and have so many years to figure this all out. And I need to stop worrying what other people think of the process, or comparing my process to theirs.
Do I want to write full-time? Do I want to write a book? Could I sell a book? Do I want to write a website? Do I really want to be a baker? Do I want to work with others, or alone? Do I like exercise and nutrition enough to make a career out of it? Is my yoga practice just a phase? What other projects are just my passing fancy? Should I be working to make my performance stuff more than just a hobby? Do I care enough? What do I have to offer the world? Isn’t somebody, or a hundred somebodies, already offering the world anything and everything I could possibly offer? Have I made a bunch of terrible mistakes that I can never undo? Shouldn’t I be trying to help people, above all else?
Will I be happy once I’m no longer working at this office? What if this office hasn’t been a source of my unhappiness, but just a convenient place to put the blame? What if I’m more confused, conflicted and unhappy when I’m not working here? What if I don’t find fulfillment in cooking, exercising and spending time with my friends? What if I can’t even get a meal on the table? What if I never write another intelligent thing? What if I’m bored as hell? What if my relationship crumbles? What if I go broke? What if I end up depressed and unmotivated and camped out on my couch watching Cold Case Files and eating luke warm soup all day long?
Fear. It’s so much easier (and less courageous) to dwell in the scary unknown than it is to believe the beautiful possibilities.
And I haven’t got a neat bow with which to tie this all up, either.