Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Burning the Security Blanket

Today was supposed to be my last shift at this job. Instead I am home with a splint on my right hand, protecting a strained thumb and wrist. Evidence that my body is saying enough, even when my spirit had already done so with a letter a few weeks ago. Truly it is just time to let go.
I remember not even a year ago saying that at some point I would have to let go of this security blanket - this [temporary] job that is paying my bills - in order to truly move forward with my career goals; with my life goals. I just figured it would be at least another 2 years before I could... before I would.
Because generally speaking I like my life of these past few years. I can afford a certain comfort on my own. Sure there are things I have and do sacrifice, like the dentist and a trip to Iceland, or Italy, or Hawaii... But I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, electronic devices to entertain and keep in touch, four-wheels to transport me places, and enough left over for the occasional night out with friends. I'm usually able to sleep in and have a leisurely morning when I know I will be less productive anyway; and stay up late connecting with others, Netflix, or even just myself.
There has been little fire under me to push harder for [financial] improvement or success. Even with the few glimpses of fulfillment and purpose during business building tasks and meetings, I still had not enough fire.
Until something changed a short time ago. I don't know how much of it was external, how much of it was internal. Though I do know both played a part. Things usually happen for a reason and at the right time. I'd had enough of so many things. And the fire was lit. I may have a comfortable life [financially], but it is not enough. I want more.
No, I want different.
And the only way I'll actually get it is to let go of the security blanket that is holding me back. I am ready now. So I quit. 
I have learned many valuable lessons in that job that will serve me well in life and career. I have made friendships and contacts that will stick with me, some if only in memory. For that I will always be grateful for the opportunity.
And I'm facing this new phase of fire-light with mixed feelings. There is always some fear in letting go of the familiar, the safe, the [somewhat] secure. There is some sadness is the change, perhaps even loss, of relationships built in that space. But there is also relief in cutting loose that which is in the way. There is excitment in opening up space for and moving towards possibility! 
In truth, I am feeding the fire and letting go in steps and stages. I left space to return to this job if necessary in a few months time. And in some ways I actually traded that security blanket for another one that looks a little different and more like what I truly want to be doing; for one that offers different space to motivate, inspire, and focus on new business goals. To focus on new life goals. In that way it is a step in the right direction for where I want to go.
[I just haven't decided where that will be first: the dentist, Iceland, Italy or Hawaii... ;)]

Monday, 22 December 2014

Why am I here?

I have had a few moments over the past year of guilt-ridden “Why am I here?” questioning. My roots in this city are not yet deep. I am living in my 3rd apartment in 2 years. My business is still young and fragile, needing much more attention than I have been able or motivated to give it. My (temporary) pay-the-bills jobs are, well, intended to be temporary. Truth is I do not have the job nor family responsibilities that my siblings have, tying me to one place. The contacts I have made, friendships I have developed, and relationship I have started are important, for sure.

But my family are facing challenges 250kms away.

I hear the voice in my head arguing that my life is less settled and therefore easier to pick-up and move; that I would have more time and energy than my siblings and extended family to pitch in since I don’t have my own child(ren) to take care of.

Yet I am also a strong advocate for giving equal value to life choices that do not include marriage and children.

No one from my family has given weight to my musings of a transient life with fewer responsibilities. In fact when I have voiced these thoughts aloud I am rebutted with support to remain where I am. There is no expectation that I would do more or different. It is my own internal struggle, to drown out the guilt and replace it with confidence and conviction. To name and, perhaps more importantly, accept the value of my own goals and dreams the way my family seem to have already done.   

And then, perhaps when I was open to the message, I read the words: 
You are exactly where you need to be.

I am here because this is where my apartment is, where my stuff is. I am here because this is where some of my important friendships are; because this is where my relationship is. I am here because this is where my job is, where my private office is. I am here because it gives me the space to use my time and energy to chase my own dreams. I am here because this is where I need to be, where I want to be, where I chose to be… where I choose to be.

I am here because this is where MY life is. And that is enough.

I am fortunate to have flexible hours at my job so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes spending time with and helping out my family. I am fortunate to be able to travel so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes going to see my family. I am fortunate to be able to keep in touch with and stay connected to the people important in My life, even when that includes supporting and being supported by my family from a distance. I am fortunate because I am here.

I write down all these things, knowing the list is likely incomplete, as a reminder to myself. Because I know I will forget again. There may be many Why questions to ask in these challenging situations, but “Why am I here?” does not need to be one of them.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Things I'm still learning about friendship

 I’ve fallen out with friends before. Probably the most significant were all the way back in elementary and high school. When girls are just learning how to be in relationship with each other amidst the competition placed in our way. Competition to be pretty and popular, to make the teams, to achieve good grades, to win the boys’ attention. How were we supposed to learn to be loving with each other when our very social survival depended on others failing?
That’s when I first learned to not fully trust my girlfriends.
I still remember the day in the gym at lunch. We were standing on the wall watching the boys play basketball or volleyball. The giggled whispers of my on/off friends beside me and their not-so-inconspicuous shifting away. Not knowing what I had done to deserve being left behind; broken trust which left scars far deeper then I realized or could name until 20 years later.
Since then I have found friendships that brought a specific lesson into my life; friendships that lasted through a certain experience – people who came in and out of my life with an ease that increased with each good bye. And friendships that are surviving time and distance, gaining depth and maturity as the years go by. But many of these have been fraught with an underlying suspicion, a lack of complete trust for genuineness and equal reciprocation. I have learned to quiet the doubts, or at least to soften their pain with resilience, independence, and by being my own best friend.
I give of myself to support others because it is in my being to do so. But I have learned that not everyone does the same. I have learned that people may come to me not because we have the kind of relationship filled with mutual support, but because they know I am the kind of person you can go to for support. I have learned that not everyone is capable of being there the way that I am often there. I have learned that expecting equal reciprocation often leaves me feeling frustrated and alone, with (false) evidence that yet again I am left to fend for myself.

I have learned that my expectations in friendship have often been misplaced and/or too high.

I have learned that this does not mean we cannot be friends!

I have learned that just because I chose not to lean on someone one time, does not mean they won’t be there for me in a time of need. I have learned that when I open myself up and allow someone, anyone to be there for me in a time of need, I may be surprised who steps up. I have learned that when I reciprocate to those who have already been there for me, I just might find the type of friendship I’ve been longing for.
I have learned that this does not mean we will be life-long friends.
You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. And I needed to change my perceptions and understanding of friendship. I needed to adjust my expectations to allow for differences in personality, in strengths, in character. I needed to accept the people around me for who they are and what they bring to my life. I needed to accept those that are not able to be there in the way I want them to be; as equally as I need to accept those that are trying to be there for me in the way I need them to be. The later has possibly been the harder of these two tasks.
I have learned that some of my friendships will survive this shift in perception and expectation; and some are just not worth the drama. I have learned that some will strengthen, and some will distance, and some will stay exactly the same. I have begun to learn how to trust my girlfriends, cautiously at first. Perhaps even fully, someday.
I have learned that I still have much to learn about being in relationship with others.
But that is to be expected.