As I’m processing the information I learned yesterday in The Time Between Dreams: How to Navigate Uncertainty in Life and Work, I have started to think about the different transitions I’ve made in life. Sometimes it feels like my 20s and 30s are a dream where I was sleepwalking through life. Career, work and complicated marriages were my focus. I had no time for reflection and, in reality, didn’t see much value in it. Over the years I’d learned that nobody cares how you feel … they just care what you do. So, I fixed myself on the things I was supposed to accomplish and be instead of setting my sights on discovering who I was and what I might want. After all, who cares what you want? It’s selfish to think of yourself … isn’t it?
It was not until I made a major transition at 40 that I became painfully aware that I was a shell of a human being. I had reached a dead end at my career. Sure, I could have moved up the corporate ladder in spite of my high heels and probably would have, but I had no energy for it. I couldn’t make myself get excited about anything that had to do with my work. I dragged myself out of bed everyday and often considered ‘checking out.’ Yes, that’s exactly what I wished would happen. Who wanted to live like that? I obviously never did it, but it was an option that seemed so much easier than being alone and dragging my ass to a job I didn’t care about day after day. And let’s not even get started about how I felt about relationships.
It took some major interventions and soul searching to get through that time. I had some acquaintances who were also in transitions of some type, and I emailed them and asked them if we could support each other. We spent hours upon hours together, talking, crying and sharing our innermost selves. One day we had brunch at my house, and we ended up having dinner before the party broke up at around 7 PM. We were hungry for whatever magic it was mingled in our midst. We all launched to different places. I got married. One moved to Florida. Another got married and moved. One got divorced. I know I think very fondly of that group of women. We had our differences, but we were there for each other in a pivotal time in our lives. It was a bridge for me. It was the first real connection I’d felt with people of like minds. We called ourselves The Girls Club.
The book yesterday mentioned how the path does not appear before us ahead of time. We have to take a leap of faith. She mentions the journey of Indiana Jones and his leap of faith across a chasm to get the holy grail. He had to take the leap, and, as he did, the bridge appeared. That is the way my journey has been with transitions. God doesn’t really help my anxiety out by providing a place to live or an income or a source of money for an emergency ahead of time. I always receive it right on time. He’s never late …. but, dammit, He’s never early either.
The Leap of Faith
I grew up in a world where marriages lasted forever and people stayed in one job for the bulk of their lives. My world hasn’t turned out that way. In my field of training and development, I train managers how hire and interview potential employees. For people of my generation, it is difficult for them to understand a person with numerous moves and jobs on their resume. But, you can’t expect people to stay in one place anymore. Life is much more complicated. People get laid off all the time. I know people who have been laid off multiple times in their lives through no fault of their own. For some careers – like mine – to move up or learn new skills, you have to change companies. Kids move, and families move to be near them. Statistics show that in today’s business climate, we will have at least 12 jobs in our lives. We have choices today, and we take them. I happen to think we’re the better for it. But, we can’t assume that the next move will always be as obvious or as simple as it was in times past.
Even though I have taken a number of leaps of faith in the last 13 years or so, it’s still hard for me to do. I want the bridge over the chasm of uncertainty to appear before I have to step. I want to know in my gut it’s the right thing. In the scene with Indiana Jones, I wished that it would appear when he raised his foot. He was going, wasn’t he? Could he get a sense that the bridge was there before he hurled his body forward? No. Because then it wouldn’t be a leap of faith. And, guess what, it wouldn’t have been as exciting, either. Who wants to watch an adventure movie where the path is clear, and you can predict what’s going to happen? I, personally, may want to know in advance, but I have a lot more fun when I take that risk and learn something new. I’ve often wondered why we aren’t aware of the risks inherent in doing nothing. At least if I’m moving forward, I have the option of a new experience. I’ll bump my head a few times and get scraped up and bruised, but at least I’m not so bored that I question the value of my existence.
By the way…. I’m thinking of creating another Girls Club. I know there’s a bunch of women in transition from relationships, work and geographical moves in my circle. Anybody up for a virtual book study and workshop on the activities in this book? I do stuff like this for a living. Surely, we could have fun with it? Let me know if you’re seriously interested.