Leaving vs. Moving Forward
I left home at the age of 18 to get away from my autocratic father, mostly. Funnily, the house with too-many-rules was traded for 2 years in the Army, where they told me what to wear, how to act, where and when for everything, and from which I wasn’t free to leave. Still, it was a means to an end: G.I. Bill for college.
I’ve left jobs, marriages, and cities, and sometimes I was just running away from what had become negative for me. Later in life, I started to figure out where I was going: not just leave the bad, but define the good I want instead.
It’s fun, sometimes, to just act on impulse. I rarely do this, though. Seems so dramatic and brave to walk in to a job and say, “I quit!” I always thought about the reference I wanted, though, or my obligation to my team for an orderly transition. That’s the pragmatic in me. In relationships, I’m a hanger-on-er. Oh, I’ve daydreamed of climactic “I’m done!” moments. I tried this once. He let me walk out and never called me again, and we’d been dating for a year! I wonder how long he’d been daydreaming of his “I’m done!” moment?!
When it came to my desire to downshift (change gears from a near-lifetime of working), I struggled to figure out where “there” was for me. I didn’t want to be “here,” and that’s not a suicidal statement — a less grandiose “here,” a more literal one.
I left my last role in a very mutually agreeable and planned fashion. The freedom to contemplate and experience was quite different for me once I didn’t have work strategies and tactics swirling about my mind. For me, it was one less set of things to turn off so I could tune into my instincts. I got clearer by tuning into things with which I’d lost touch: defining my values, remembering my passions, exploring where I find meaning.
The biggest challenge for me in every change I’ve ever considered is tuning out the voices of others, unless I’ve sought their counsel. And even then, I’ve needed to be okay with sometimes not taking the advice I asked for. It seems to rile people on the occasions when I’ve done that, but the decision is always mine despite the input I’ve requested. It took me a while to learn that and then to assert it.
I suppose change can find its traction in a number of ways: some impulsive and spontaneous, like a pouncing lunge towards something that calls to me. And maybe the planful path of discovery is better suited for other change. All I can do is to give it my best: to listen to the voice that stirs the urge towards either method.