Back in early March, I was sitting on my sister’s couch, crying my eyes out in the middle of the night. Things were horribly, yet inexplicably wrong at my job (my dream job!) and the anxiety of returning to a toxic workplace had ruined the end of my week long vacation in Phoenix. The feeling crept up on me, until it had totally overwhelmed me and stopped my ability to enjoy a single moment of the day. Imagine Sunday Anxiety x 1000.
Earlier that day as we wandered through the aisles of a Native American Market, I felt lost and hopeless, touching every stone and asking what they meant. Where was the thing that would purify my soul? Where was the thing that could protect me? I allowed my mom and sister to dawdle at the booths and rushed ahead of them so they would not see that I was crying. Something in me had cracked and broken, but I did not know what it was.
That night the subject of what I was going back to came up in conversation, and I could no longer hold it together. Anxieties about my job came pouring forth. I was an introverted person being forced to fit the mold of an extreme extrovert in a chaotic work environment. It was killing my creativity, my productivity and my soul. My dream job had become a living nightmare. (Side note – for anyone who may also struggle with this, please read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking). My sister urged me to leave the source of my unhappiness behind. “But my career!” I cried, “My resume!”
My sister’s argument: Who cares about that stuff if it makes you unhappy? Find what makes you happy and then get a job – any job – to support that life.
At the time, I thought her suggestion was impossible. Happiness only came once everyone was impressed with me. Once I’ve squashed my competition. Once my face and name started to invade circles outside my own. Basically, until the day I woke up as Kelly Wearstler, I expected to be unhappy. How could I give it all up before I’d barely begun?
Well it turns out, my sister was right-ish. I never got a job, but instead, I started my own business. I’m still working on figuring out a great many things, but here I am months later and starting a new season in my life and career. I’m happier than I ever expected to be, forging my own path in the industry. I’m also extremely terrified of the things that could happen. But that’s also been a motivator to get on track fast and build this thing.
My career isn’t ever going to resemble anyone else’s. My life won’t either. Comparison is a pointless waste of time (though I still do it in moments of weakness). I have realized a truth that I should have known all along and that is that my life is mine, and I am in control. So here I am, heading into a new season both literally and figuratively, with a lot to do ahead of me.
Have you ever had an aha moment, and realized you were on the wrong path? What did you do about it? I’d love to hear from you!