Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In Search of Self (Away from Home?)

When I've looked for jobs previously, I've been full of purpose and drive. I'd get up at 6 AM and get right to it -- following leads, networking, checking out the job boards, sending in resumes. In an average day, I'd make at least 10 significant connections, from sending a resume to an interview.

I've often been asked what one word describes me best, and I've always said "tenacious." But these days I'm not tenacious, I'm not driven and I'm not confident. Instead, I'm evasive, fearful and confused. Instead of checking job boards, I've been planting lavenders. Instead of calling people in my network for job leads, I've been re-connecting with dear friends and family who I haven't talked to in years. Instead of yearning to immerse myself in a new organization or company, I yearn to get on a plane and immerse myself in a new culture -- far away from here.

And I'm seriously considering doing just that. Like, next week. The idea isn't receiving a very enthusiastic reception at home, and all the reasons given are valid: it's not fiscally wise, it's too sudden, it's irresponsible, it's escapist, etc. But I have an incredibly strong intuitive feeling that I must follow my gut right now, that this is a time to be a bit selfish after 20-some years of making sure that everyone else's needs are met. The book that M gave me last week, Transitions, rings especially true, page after page: Bridges points out that Goethe regarded it as normal to relinquish old dreams and generate new ones throughout one's developmental lifetime. He goes on to say that "to become something else, you need to stop being who you are now; to start doing things a new way, you need to end how you're doing them now; to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the one you have now." Even though it seems backwards, endings always come first... and the first task is to let go. You need to begin with the ending -- you need to let go of whatever it's time to let go of before starting a new beginning. And, Bridges explains further, you need some empty time between your old life and your new one.

Empty time. Is this why I can't get down to business and find a frikkin' job? Is this why I yearn to go to Germany? Is this why I want to write a novel, but not a cover letter?

Bridges suggests that people in transition ask themselves two questions: 1.) What is it time to let go of in my life? (This one alone could drain me completely!) and 2.) What is standing backstage, in the wings of my life, waiting to make an entrance? Dang -- I just asked myself almost that exact same question a few days ago, when I talked about the road I've been traveling, and the signs that have been both superfluous and sought. I feel really strongly that I need to take that "slice of my life" that I so often ponder. I need to excuse myself for a few weeks -- preferably with family understanding and support, but maybe even without it -- and I need to figure myself out. I'll be a better person, a better wife -- and I'd certainly know (and probably like) myself better if I could take some time to get to know myself again... really know myself, instead of just repeating buzz words that I've used to describe myself over the years... like "mother," wife, "educator," "producer," and "manager." Maybe I need to spend a little time and energy on re-defining.

Another thing Bridges mentions in Transitions: He says, "Imagine you're 90. From that vantage point, was this present point in your life a time when it was a good idea to keep on in the same direction, or was it a time that cried out for a change?"

Without some dedicated self-reflection, I'm not sure I can even begin to answer that question!

So... to my German blogging friends -- wanna meet up for a cuppa joe? Oh wait -- I'd be leaving Seattle! OK, wanna meet for ein stueck Apfelkuechen?!

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vailian said...

You know where to find me! (That said, I am on tour in Spain for about 10 days starting next Wednesday).

Bek said...

I'd take that Apfelkuchen. Too bad I'm not there..

jen said...

you are welcome to stay with sparky and i for a while. that way we could have a cuppa joe several times.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

A trip might be just the ticket. Liberating with long hours away from your usual routine to let your thoughts work themselves out.

Dixie said...

You know you've been doing things expected of you for years. You've been a mom and a wife and a wage earner and a housekeeper and maybe you're wanting to just be Carol. Even just sometimes.

Going after another dream - one other than the ones expected of you - can end up being better at the roles that you're expected to and still want to have.

You need to work so you need to pursue finding a job but start pursuing the things that make you just Carol.

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