.“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” ~ Sarah Dessen
I am a sleep-is-for-the-wicked, work-your-fingers-to-the-bone type of girl.
What this workaholic mindset has been good for has been learning to fight the good fight to feel the humbled pride of feeling like the work I’m doing in this world is impactful.
I conditioned myself to jump head on into my livelihood because I wanted better. After failing out of medical school prerequisites in an extra fifth year of college, feeling sorry for myself, and settling for two different customer service jobs that made me feel underutilized, I daydreamed of being in a job where I felt like I mattered, and through feeling important, could help others see their own value and right of belonging in the world.
When this opportunity came, I sacrificed my personal life and social life to dig myself into my work—fully and completely. I got a lot back in return for the sacrifice. I felt good about how I was showing up for others, I received early-on opportunities to learn about management and leadership that someone of my age should expect at five years into a career, and I learned what it meant to wrap every fiber of my being into caring about something that meant more than just clocking in and out at the end of the day. I learned that I had something to teach others, and through teaching, I could heal some of my own past experiences that made me disbelieve that I had any power to be of service through educating others. I (without really asking) received a job that imbued me with the lessons I needed to receive about my rights of belonging and having a livelihood I could stand behind in the world.
But being a self-proclaimed workaholic whose favorite distraction is the laptop screen is also unexpectedly devastating. When that unexpected strike hits you, it blindsides you.
I carried the burden of so much of my work around with me—emotionally, physically, psychically, and energetically—to the point where I lost sight of where the boundaries between myself and what I was carrying for others began and end. My strength to sink my teeth into work also became my biggest weakness, because in getting so carried away, I lost a lot of joy and fulfillment. When things got tough personally and professionally, instead of allowing myself to feel and work through the challenges in a healthy professional relationship, I distracted myself with work, digging a deeper well for myself to hide in.
This was the point was when I wondered what it’d be like to walk away and let go and move on and just not suffer. This was when I could not avoid the cycling between numbness and suffering any longer. I fantasized about walking away from this opportunity and not looking back and having more space in my life. I thought I’d be happier and have more time to do my own personal work—my own personal healing commitments that I consecrated by completing my yoga teacher’s training journey earlier this year.
I was wrong in a way that I would never anticipated would be the outcome of walking away from a livelihood that both challenged me and helped me grow professionally and personally in profound ways. I was wrong in being so naive to believe that walking away from the value of a job that taught me the power of my voice to teach others would walk me closer to my own healing work, and that walk would be helpful and meaningful. It was only in the act of walking away that I grasped the depths of how in testing my strength, this opportunity actually taught me more than anything I could have ever asked for, and something that isn’t easy to move on from.
When you’re faced with an opportunity to walk away and move on, to perhaps what might be better, it’s hard to know if moving on is the right thing. With a life path decision like this, you may never know. That’s what makes moving on so painful—when we doubt or mistrust that it was the right call. Sometimes you need to learn the lessons of a false start or misstep and what the adversity of that feels like in order to find the right direction.
“What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness—this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Author: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Ben White/Unsplash