Let go of who you think you should be, in order to be who you are.~ Brenè Brown.
A step back, to transcend the present moment, this particular period in my life, in order to better see the bigger pattern. How did I get here? How did it get to that point? Stepping off the professional cliff, the windowsill of my corporate career, where it looked high enough to kill most…
…the great resignation…
Taking a different perspective in understanding what is happening for me right now. I need to ‘get on the balcony’ of it all.
I’m beginning this reflection at 25 years of age; prior to this was all school/higher education and casual work. While including lecturing and tutoring at university, I also cooked a lot of burgers…. I still cook a damn fine burger… (hey btw, did anyone else have to look up ‘coatigan’?).
Ok. So Let’s talk a walk through the last 21 years of my life, from a ‘professional’ perspective…
In 2001, despite loving teaching and research, I realize, before finishing my PhD that academia is not the right environment for me and I start working in the public service.
I land an APS 6 role (if that means anything) as a Senior Research Officer in the Office of Road Safety in a state government department. I don’t mind the work, I stay friends with a couple of the people, but more than anything, the bureaucracy and administrative processes drive me up the wall.
While working full time I focus my energy and complete my PhD in Social Psychology which is conferred in 2002.
In 2003 I come to terms with the fact I’m not a great employee (I don’t like being told what to do …) and would rather work for myself.
I start and run a successful small business with national coverage. This business runs for almost 10 years, it is very well regarded and supported by clients and other professionals.
By 2007, however, I realize I need to learn more and go back to studying to grow myself and my business. My business morphs as I switch focus and I find myself running a small, boutique but highly popular yoga studio and school.
I eventually walk away from the business. I leave client programs, train the trainer programs, and professional development workshops. A reach that includes a published book, meditation CDs, websites, social media and many magazine articles and other publications…
I feel like I have reached the limits of my business know how and need to learn more and/or re-direct my energy. In 2014 I re-enter academia to become a business school academic. I see only in hindsight how this is a pivotal moment in my life.
In this period I am a Senior Lecturer (Level C), an academic at Australia’s national university. Teaching management, leadership and organisational change, researching identity and transformation leadership, learning from leading academics around me.
I receive three awards for excellence in education as a university lecturer (my students give me a standing ovation as I receive one of the awards, just wow). I manage also to get a few well regarded publications and, despite not having a piece of paper to prove it, an MBA level education in business simply from being immersed in the environment for years.
My professional identity blossoms in 2018 when I co-design, develop and deliver a world leading executive education program around organisational leadership and transformation. The program is backed by two of Australia’s leading universities at different times, and by the peak industry body for organisational transformation in Australia. But things shift and change, and my world begins to dissolve again.
In 2021 I finally realise, in the midst of my second experience of burn-out since returning to academia, this is not the right environment for me, and leave again.
It is now 2022 and I have no idea what’s happening. And I’m mostly ok with that.
I started this blog: And She Flies… partly as a way of working out where I’m at. Sharing my working out in case it is useful for others to see. A way for both of us to learn.
The years have gifted me with many thank you notes, cards, emails, now empty bottles of wine, I don’t think about them often and look at them even less. But each is a feather in the wings that carry me forward in this journey. The strength of self belief that every single person who ever thanked me helped build.
The courage to look and see the patterns of constraint and release, containment and freedom. To see that I have been exploring the boundaries of this space, where my abilities intersect with opportunities and my preferences create friction in my environment.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.~ Carl Jung.
So, in liberating my self from the expectations of ‘career’, what’s left to show for all that I’ve done?
Everything that I am.
Everything that I stand for.
All that I have learned and become capable of, can never be taken from me, nor can I walk from it or even give it away. Believe me, I tried.
This is who I am, this is my journey. This is the mind I was given to work with, the spirit that came into being.
And this is the answer to the question: if I am not my professional self, if I am not all that I have trained and studied and practiced to be, then what am I? What is left of me to love?
The answer is ‘me’. I am enough.
I follow my Dharma. My calling, the path I am here to tread.
The journey I, my self, am on. It is spiritual, not professional.
This is the pull of the great resignation. This is the wake up call so many now heed.
Love your reason for being. This is who you are. Your authentic self.
Love the things that excite and delight you, that make your heart sing and give you a place to belong in the world. These feelings, these emotions are the signs, the sparks of light that show you the path. Your path.
Follow the light of your joy, not through rose colored glasses, blindly bumping into life as you go, but in small, incremental ways that move you closer, one step at a time, to a more fulfilled, more peaceful state of being. A state of being that honors and respects your natural rhythms and helps prevent you from dissociating and heading down a path of ill health.
For me, my patterns and experiences bring me back now to self employment, back to a direct connection with the means of production.
To autonomy and self-determination.
To sovereignty and freedom.
Let go of all that you are, so that you may become all that you might be.
May you be happy,
may you be healthy,
may you be free of suffering.
In the end, only three things matter; how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.~ Buddha.