“Letting go is death. People think leaving a job is about leaving a job. It’s about leaving a life, a history, a context, a cubbyhole, the only person you knew how to be, and the one everybody loved.” ~Tama J. Kieves
I came across the book titled This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love by Tama J. Kieves a few days ago and have devoured it like a starving woman.Tama is a Harvard-trained lawyer who left the legal profession to become a writer because that is the work that called to her soul. This book is filled with encouragement for those of us who plan to walk a similar journey as she shares her fears, struggles, and successes. So many of her words address the very battles that I find myself fighting day by day. Just knowing I’m not alone is such a marvelous encouragement.
As I approach my day of reckoning on Monday, I found her quote above to be so expressive of the challenge I’m facing. As much as I look forward to being out of that situation, there is still so much grief involved in the loss of relationship and self-definition that goes with. In some ways, this process is made easier given that I’ve done this several times before as I’ve walked away from careers and long-standing jobs that meant much more to me than this one does.
On the other hand, it also makes it harder because I know exactly how hard this is from having walked this road before. I’ve faced some of these demons already in conditions that were not as harsh as this one, but were painful enough anyway. It’s also discouraging to feel compelled to walk away from yet another job. The sense of failure is choking. Between that and the ever-present fear, there are moments when I can hardly breathe.
At least this time it’s not something that’s well-paying, prestigious, something I was a success at, or something that I’ve trained for many years to do. I’ve already been there, done that. This was supposed to have been my relatively menial job that allowed me to pay the bills but not taking enough out of me to keep me from working on what really mattered to me in my spare time. I am obviously not very good at that. I think I need to do like Tama and try waiting tables to help pay the bills this time around!
Yet as hard and as painful as this is, there’s also a feeling that I have no choice. This is something I have to do if I am to have any hope of really living before I die. Like Tama, the discomfort of trying to live a life that I’m not meant to live is greater than the fear and pain of leaving. I can’t ignore it or fight it any longer. As much damage as this job has done to my sense of self-worth, it may ultimately be a gift in disguise since the failure there is helping to push me to do what I know I need to do. It’s not about courage; it’s just self-preservation.
I am immensely grateful to have her story and encouragement to bolster me in the coming days as I struggle through this process of death and resurrection yet again. Although my actual journey is bound to be different from hers, it is helpful to have a record of someone else’s journey through the same terrain with its reassurance that I am not alone. Here’s hoping I can be as successful as she has been in creating a life where I will dance this time around!