2018 was a big year of change for me, personally. I consciously closed the door on what was the 1 and only career I have known, and opened a door facing the abyss. As I announced my intentions, I had many friends and colleagues use words like courage, brave, bold to describe their perception of my decision. I thought to myself “courageous? brave?… I feel the exact opposite”.
With 5 months of reflection time since then, I have come to realize that the opposing feeling I had when people would say words like courage, was vulnerability. Stepping outside the bubble I had built over 17 years put me in one of the most vulnerable states of my life. Where do I go from here? How will I earn an income? Was this a mistake? Who will ever hire me? Can I make it as an entrepreneur? Will I be able to support my children? What will I do with my time? How will I stay focused? How will I stay intellectually engaged? What the f#@& did I just do?
Time has allowed questions and feelings like those to subside, but thoughts in that vain occasionally wash over me. However, with renewed clarity I can tell you that this state of vulnerability, while still uncomfortable- bordering on scary, has been, without question, the shove I needed to find a pathway to true fulfillment.
You see I was miserable. Being an optimist, someone who wakes up each morning puts a smile on her face and goes to work, I did not know I was miserable. The accolades, the money, my colleagues, the intellectual challenge, the fact I was the only female, the corporate ladder... are what kept me charging ahead. On a snowy drive home, late, after a grueling day, I had an ahhh-haaaa moment. “There have to be better jobs out there for me, that give me back better return on what I am putting in”. My mind spiraled out of control, I felt like the air was just sucked out of my lungs, and I had no choice but to explore uncharted territory.
I spent 3 months in career counseling, peeling back the layers that had accumulated after all those years. I spent a lot of time outside of her office, working on “homework”, delving deep into who I am, what I want, possibilities, pros, cons, what-ifs. It was clear that I had to leave my role. What was not clear was the next step. In fact, many possibilities emerged including staying with my company but in a different role. With the help of family, friends, and the continued guidance of my career counselor, I decided to step away completely from employment, for the first time since I started babysitting at age 12. Hence the “I’m naked on a stage at the super bowl singing the national anthem” feeling. (The only C I ever got, in all of my years of school, was in choir so this notion is particularly mortifying).
Since I made that decision, I have been able to focus on exploring my passions. prettysmart+badass was born as a platform to continue educating, supporting, empowering, and connecting women, something I really missed after stepping away from a role in which I was able to do so. I am also looking forward to dedicating time towards another venture with a mission to consult male dominated companies on the “why?” and the “how-to!” diversify their gender ratio.
These are some of the things that have emerged from my vulnerable state. Not to mention a wealth of new friends and connections I would have otherwise never known. Oh and by the way, my kids don’t mistakenly call me Dad anymore. #winning
Taking this awareness into 2019, I plan to continue to scare the crap out of myself on a daily basis. I hope that courage is still a word that comes to other peoples minds, while I continue to learn the immensely uncomfortable art of embracing vulnerability.
For a great book on vulnerability, check out this read!
Enjoy Superbowl Sunday my friends!!!!!