Years ago I remember my son coming home from school with one of those pre-printed Mother’s Day forms where the kids draw a few pictures and fill in the blanks. My girlfriends and I used to share the sweet things our kids wrote, and the funny ones too. “My mom loves tequila” was probably my favorite (for the record this was my friend’s, not mine…). So I was reading the one from my youngest, and one line said: “My mom hates her job.” I was floored. I never said I hated my job, but I realized that for the past year I had come home complaining and sharing my misery about how awful it was at work. This was affecting my family and I didn’t even see it.
I worked at a large company in a small department full of people I considered my friends as well as colleagues. Our job in corporate aviation meant we spent countless days on the road together and shared many aspects of our lives, our struggles, and our joys. These people were my adventure buddies, therapists, cheerleaders, mentors, and dear friends. We shared a disproportionately large part of our lives together. Every work day was fun, and an adventure. Yes, some trips were challenging, exhausting and probably gave me most of my wrinkles and gray hair prematurely. But it was worth it. I loved my job. I mean really loved it. I came home to my family from my time on the road a better, happier person. It nourished me.
But somewhere along the line, shifts in thinking, in management, in communication at the top started to disturb this lovely nest in which I thrived. Time with my friends on the road became bitch fests and gripe marathons, and I partook wholeheartedly. I wasn’t sleeping, and I was constantly stressed and angry. I became quite unhappy, despite being surrounded by so many great people, and a company I was proud to be a part of.
The funny thing is, I didn’t consider leaving. How could I leave my second family? I had loved this job for over 20 years. One of my colleagues, who I am most grateful for, took me aside after one of our "misery meetings" and said “Hey, you know you don’t have to stay here right? You’re really good at what you do, and there are other jobs out there. There’s a posting I saw this morning you could apply for.” I nodded through my tears but dismissed the idea. Even though this job was dimming my inner light, I clung to the notion of love...love for what was. I also clung to what was familiar and comfortable where I had thrived. It’s hard to let go.
We have all probably been there. Maybe you are there right now. Wondering what to do. Stay or go. It may be a job, or maybe a relationship or a particular circumstance you are contending with that no longer feeds you. We sometimes dupe ourselves into believing everything is still ok. It's easier to hold on to the magic of what was than face that daunting and scary wall you must climb to leap into the unknown. It feels safer there in your little nest.
It took a mental punch in the gut from my eight-year-old son to wake up and smell reality. To accept that this job that had given me so much was now just taking from me like an unhealthy relationship. It was time to let go and move on. I climbed my wall of fears and leapt. I applied for that job, and that is where I have been for the past five years. I am filled with gratitude for what was, for the friendships I still hold dear and for taking the leap into where I am now with a fully nourished heart.
I hope for you, if or when it is time, you find the courage to climb that wall and take the leap. I hope the same for me.