An Ode to a Life Out of Balance

I’ve been here before. It’s as if I’ve been running for so long that I don’t know what it means to stand still, except here I am, at the edge of a cliff, nowhere else to run. Behind me is the life that I’m leaving, that I’ve been running from instead of facing. Ahead, across the canyon, is the life I want. I’ve been here before, staring over this cliff, but this time is different. This time I’m going to get to the other side.

In four days I will be walking away from what has ostensibly been the best job and career opportunity in my life. I found myself in the right place when the startup I had been working on was indefinitely shelved, and the coworking center we worked out of was hiring. Nearly six years of aimless wandering between various projects and failed* businesses and relationships left me with quite a void of self-confidence. Joining the team at CIC-STL, first as part-time, and then six months later as a full-time member of the sales team, truly helped me move past some of that. It’s been a year and a month in that role and I am ever-grateful for the opportunity, but it’s time to move on and face the growth ahead of me.

*I say failed in the bottom-line business sense of the word and the emotional toll that can take. In the grand scheme of life each of these experiences has been a valuable lesson and growth opportunity.

Despite recognizing the opportunities I’ve had and manifested for myself, I still struggle with my own self-confidence. I am drawn to people in my life who are smarter or more successful than me but oftentimes, especially lately, this doesn’t serve to inspire or push me towards self-improvement, but rather stunt me in comparison. I’m seeing this play out rather unfortunately in my most intimate relationship and it’s been through that discomfort that I’ve gotten clearer about what the root of those things are and what I need to do to push through them.

If the past two year chapter of my life has a title it would be “A Life Out of Balance.” On the surface it would be hard to see what the problem is — I’ve had a good and well-paying job with great friends, a supportive and loving partner and awesome family and home life, and have travelled more than I have in the previous five years combined — and yet, my mind is not at ease and I can’t seem to shake that no matter how I try. The reality is that I have not been living for myself, instead living as a reflection of others or for the approval of others. I’ve identified that much, but the challenge I face is discovering what living for myself even looks like. It’s been so long since I’ve done that successfully that I don’t know what it means, but I do know where I’m going to begin.

Part of bringing this chapter to a close on Friday is being in a decent financial place to do so. The last time I jumped of the cliff of self-discovery and left a fulltime job, I did so from a significant hole — mostly debts accrued from my first business startup nearly a decade ago now. In the last year most of that has finally been dealt with and also recall mention of a supportive partner — we are both clear that I need some time and space to work out my next chapter, so here we are. Toward the end of last year, I began imagining what the near-future would hold and what I wanted it to look like. Two things emerged quickly — food and writing. I knew that I wanted to be back in the local food world (the world I had stepped out of during my last transition) and that for a very long time I have identified creatively as a writer though never committing to the practice necessary to pursue that path. I resolved, as it were, to find my way back into the food world in the new year and to write every day. Nearly six months into 2017, both of those are shaping up. On January first, I wrote a letter to my partner committing to writing her daily through the year. Today I will write note 135. Through that commitment, I have not only found a way to hold myself accountable to daily writing, but I believe we’ve grown together as a result. I have also renewed my commitment to furthering local food policy and am in any way I can diving back into that work.

There remains, still, a mountain of uncertainty and self-doubt surrounding this decision and the implications it will have on my future. I’m leaving a great job behind and all of the wonderful (truly) people that I have worked with daily for two years. I’m leaving the security of an income in the moment so I may find what makes me tick and the better income that will find me through that. I am grateful for the opportunities provided in these past couple years and the lessons and growth I’ve gained that hasn’t even been fully realized yet, I’m sure, but I can’t keep running. Like I said before, there is a cliff before me. My option is to turn back or to jump.

I’m jumping.

However, to ensure that I don’t crash and burn I’m making another commitment to myself. In addition to the daily writing that I’ve already been doing this year, I’m going to expand that to include something published somewhere each day of the week (excluding weekends) for as long as that needs to happen. This isn’t a plea for validation — although affirmations will be accepted graciously — but an accountability mechanism for myself as I start out on this new path. This commitment will ensure that at the very least I will create something and put it out into the world each day. It will also be a way of sharing my progress as I discover what lies ahead. Follow along if you dare, it’ll be fun.

I’m looking forward to beginning this journey with you but first I’m going on vacation! I’ll be back in June.

[jumps off cliff]

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