It’s The People

Here I thought I was completely miserable being back at work. But funnily enough, the past few days here have been oddly happy ones. I’ve had the random luck of running into a few old favorite friends and colleagues, and indulging in some long overdue quality catch up. It’s amazing how something like that can really pick up your spirits.

Now I know I said the culture here is one-dimensional and the interactions lacking authenticity. But that of course is a generality not necessarily applicable to everyone. In my four years here, I was lucky to find a number of truly wonderful and candid people. And it’s been these people who’ve made working here for this long bearable. Truthfully, anytime someone here has resigned and sent around the usual mass farewell email, they’ve often sited the people they’ve worked with as the best part of their time here.

Likewise for me, it’s been the people I’ve known here who have kept me coming back to work everyday.

I’d almost forgotten that, lost in my woe-is-me-I-hate-my-job whirlwind. But over the last couple of days, I’ve been fortunate to run into some of these folks and experience real heartfelt conversation. It’s a wonderful reminder that there are genuine souls here I’ve had a lasting connection with. These are people I actually plan to stay in touch with and make a part of my life’s next journey. Just a few happy days, and with it some long overdue Facebook friend-ings and promises that my last days here won’t be the last days for our friendship.

What’s more, many of these people were inspired by the tales of my next journey and have confided their own secret dreams of freedom and exploration. I was so caught up in my own vision that I didn’t stop to think there might be others here with the same aspirations. It’s an unexpected treasure to discover I’m not the only artist-turned-corporate-drone who wants to return to my roots.

It somehow makes me feel less alone, and eases some of the guilt about abandoning this seemingly perfect company and dream job.

So as I struggle to keep my composure in this place day by day, and as I endeavor to preserve the precious bits of my soul recently recovered, I can take comfort in knowing that these people have become another much needed source of comfort and confidence. And that I, in turn, have the ability to provide them with the same thing.

I know now how the hell I’ve lasted a whopping four years here. And why the prospect of leaving, though relieving, still feels a little like breaking up. It’s not because of the cheap massages, or the free laundry, or the gourmet meals, or even the state-of-the-art gym.

It’s because of the people.

The Battle Ahead

Well folks, I’ve been on this leave for about two months now, and it has definitely been one hell of an eye-opening ride. I’ve discovered a lot about myself along the way. And I hope you’ve in turn perhaps learned something new about yourself as well.

My time is nearly up now, and so I must now prepare the more practical plan for my next step on the horizon. As I’m doing this, I want to be able to incorporate all the great things I’ve learned throughout this experience. So naturally, this means taking a quick dip into the pools of reflection and summarization.

In retrospect, there are a lot of things I might have done differently along the way of my self-reflective journey… but there are always different choices, different paths, that you could have taken. The important thing is to understand and remember why you took the one you did. And for me, the important thing to remember is that I even started this journey in the first place. Because taking that first brave step towards self-confrontation was a choice in itself that others might not have made. But I made it. And I did so because I have a drive in me, a desire to find my own path, beat my own drum, and avoid conforming to the world’s idea of normalcy.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ramit Sethi of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, wrote that we all once had that urge to be unique. But that over time, ‘we settle into a world of normalcy where being ambitious is “weird” — and even if we are ambitious, we’re not sure what exactly to do to turn that ambition into results.’ Well I did find myself in that world, having unknowingly succumbed to a life of normalcy, and then waking up one day to realize I’m nowhere near being who and what I thought I wanted. And now that I know what’s missing, and I have tapped back into my old familiar ambition, I’ve struggled with that very big question of what to do with it.

Well first things first. Before even tackling the question of what to do next, I found I needed to reassess what I even define as success. You see, the world of normalcy implants a lot of ideas in our heads. And one of those is the idea that in order to be successful, you need to find a steady stable 9-5 job that pays well, has a impressive sounding title, and lots of room for growth to an even higher title with even higher pay. Or as Robert Frost, one of my all-time favorite poets put it, ‘By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.’ This is exactly what my family taught me to aim for, what my childhood community taught me to aim for, what I told myself to aim for.

And guess what? I discovered that’s not actually what I really do value as success. Go figure! In digging into what actually makes me tick, what rewards I seek, and how I measure success, I’ve discovered that my definition of a fulfilling lifestyle is a much different picture than that previously drawn for me. My picture is much more flexible, creative and diverse. My picture involves various sources of income, from a variety of enterprises, none of which fit into the simple 9-5 model, but all with these things in common: more flexibility of schedule, more opportunity to try new things, more creativity, and above all, more ownership and control over all these.

From this, I began to sketch out what my next steps will look like, what enterprises I will seek, what sources of income I will generate, what my daily schedule will look like, and so on. I’ve been discussing this with a number of you already, so I won’t get too into the details. Suffice it to say I’m very excited for the endeavors I’m aiming for next, and will be looking forward especially to the opportunities they will provide me for spending more quality time with all of you (both in doing them with you, or in having more free time to spend with you). Though I know it will not be easy, I am hopeful for what this will bring.

That said, the one piece of this plan I would particularly like to share with you all is how I’ve been redefining my idea of home. Throughout this journey, I’ve been talking a lot about the discovery that my current residence is not much of a home to me. Nor have I felt that sense of belonging anywhere since I last lived in Davis for college – which explains a lot about the extreme feelings of nostalgia I still harbor there. So in taking this next big step in my life’s journey, I’ve realized one piece of the puzzle will be to relocate to a place I can develop and identify as home.

However, as with every other part of this exploration, I’m finding this to be much easier said than done. Oh it was easy enough to figure out where I’d want this home to be, and who I’d want to share it with, and what elements I’d need present in order to create such a home. But the hard part comes in making this dream a reality. As I hit roadblocks, and face differences of availability, I find myself forced to consider alternatives. And as I have been teaching myself to remember, such struggles are opportunities in disguise. So with my perfect image of a perfect new home fading, I have begun constructing a more practical solution that might even better serve my next endeavors.

You see, my friends, I plan to be homeless. That word does sound quite ugly though, doesn’t it? So let’s say, I plan to roam. I plan to be a citizen of the world, a resident of this community, a tenant only of my own ambition. I plan to inhabit an environment befitting of the more flexible, creative, and diverse lifestyle I am planning to build for myself. And this will in turn help enable that lifestyle even further, as such a lifestyle will no doubt be less lucrative at first, and this living arrangement will save me considerable monthly expenses.

And so, as I close out this blog entry, I appeal to you my dearest friends who have been such invaluable companions on this latest and hardest of life’s journeys. In a few months, I will be moving all my things to storage, stocking up my car with the essentials, and crashing from couch to couch in my own version of the starving artist lifestyle. In this next stage of my life, I entreat each of you to continue opening your hearts and sharing your thoughts, just as so many of you have already so generously opened your doors and shared your homes.

A few months from now, and after parting ways with my current employer once and for all, I will be living a very different lifestyle from anything I’ve previously known. This will be a very big shift for me, and though I am almost literally bouncing with excitement, it will also take a great deal of adjusting. With this in mind, I beg you all not to distance yourselves or let me unknowingly distance myself. I am prepared to fight for the life I want, I’m prepared to fight the world’s concept of normalcy – as a fight I know it will be – and I am going to need my army of friends and family around me to keep forging ahead. I can’t thank you all enough for being my dear companions on the journey thus far.

Now please say you’ll stay with me as I embark on this next journey, and the battle ahead.

No Choice

It’s really no secret that I like being in control. Yes, I am a control freak. I’m a control freak, and that’s why I’m so negative. Because I have this need to control the outcome of any situation. See, if I expect the worst to happen, then I’ll never be caught off guard. If something does go terribly wrong, I’m expecting it, so I’m ready for it and I know I can handle it.

I mean, let’s be honest. It’s never hard to handle something when it goes wonderfully. In the best-case scenario, no one’s really caught off guard in a bad way. I mean, yeah you may still be caught off guard, but you’re happy about it. Nobody ever likes being caught off guard in the worst possible way though. It’s that feeling that makes you feel like you’re out of control, and I can’t bear that. So I have to be always expecting that things are going to fall apart, because then I know I’ll be there, ready and in control, to put the pieces back together.

‘But Rebecca’, you may interject. ‘Why then are you always talking about how much you love chaos and change?’

Well yes, I do like change too. It’s true. Change can be such a great way of keeping things fresh and exciting. And I do like chaos and spontaneity. I like being wild and unpredictable. But the distinction is, I like choosing to do that, to be that. I need to be in control of the change. Every time I’ve changed in the past, it was because I chose to make that change. Each time, I’d have decided that was exactly what I wanted to do first. I wanted to rearrange all my bedroom furniture, again. I wanted to move apartments, again. I wanted to dye my hair, again. And however sudden or random that decision may have seemed, I was still perfectly in control of it. It was exciting, AND it was my choice!

But this time, this change, was not my choice. That’s what makes this so hard to accept. I didn’t choose to completely re-haul my life, and question everything I’d become, and reinvent my entire self. Well, it’s not really a reinvention of the self so much as a reconnection to the self. The self that I’d lost along the way somewhere. I can’t even really pinpoint where it was I got lost, but I did. Now I have to find my way back. And it’s hard. It’s hard to find your way back from lost.

But that’s how I feel all the time now. All day long, I feel lost. That’s why I panic, why I’m scared and stressed. That’s why I’m hesitant to do anything real, say anything real, feel anything real. That’s why I think everyone’s ashamed of me, and everything is going to go wrong. That’s why I’m so unsure of myself through this whole mucky thing.

I’m lost and I don’t know how to be found again.

I guess you could say that’s what my Spirit Journey was for, right? I mean, it was supposed to help guide me. My inner spirit, subconscious voice, connection to the divine, whatever it is that knows the Source of me and wants to help guide me back to it. That’s what my Spirit Journey was trying to access, what it tried to show me. My Spirit Journey tried to show me how to walk balanced among uneven tree limbs all interwoven together – the way everything in this world is woven together – that may range in size, shape, and even strength. So that I have to trust with each of them that they will still hold me, or at least that my body will take care of me and stay balanced despite the uncertain and rocky terrain. I need to learn to walk like the animals of this forest, for whom this balance comes so naturally. Or maybe like those other people around me who seem to handle the balancing act of life with so much more grace than I. Perhaps I once had it too, but I’ve forgotten how now. I’ve lost it, just as I’ve lost myself.

Now indulge me for a moment. I’m feeling the urge to reminisce about my past and how amazingly capable I used to be. You know, I used to be this incredible leader and stage manager and producer. I knew exactly how to manage every piece of the show and everyone in it. I could make sure things stayed right on budget and on time. And now look at me. I can’t handle the basic day-to-day juggling required of an admin. I failed completely as the piñata project manager. I can barely even hold my head together long enough to write a coherent blog post. I’ve lost that once incredibly competent person I used to be.

Where did I go? Where did I go? I didn’t choose this change.

My body made me. It just stopped and said:

‘I can’t keep wandering around blindly bumping into things and hoping that we get somewhere. I’m going in circles and it hurts. I don’t know where I’m going anymore. I don’t know what I’m getting out of bed for anymore. You don’t feed me well, I don’t sleep well, I’m unhealthy and weak and tired. So I’m not going to function for you anymore until you change this. Until you do, I’m going to give you sleepless nights with restless limbs and cold sweats and bad dreams. I’m going to make you hyperventilate and shake all over and throw up. I’m going to give you cough after cold after flu. I’m going to mess with your head so that you question the devotion of your friends and family, and fall into a deep depression. I have that power and I’m going to use it to make you listen.’

That’s what my body is saying to me. And I had no choice but to listen. I was forced into this change.

Now I’m not saying that this change isn’t in fact a good idea. To be honest, it’s probably the best thing my body ever did for me. It’s just devastating to think it had to force me. That I didn’t see it and think to change it on my own sooner. Oh no, instead I had to keep pushing forward, hoping that I was getting anywhere productive. Praying that I was doing the right thing. That I even knew what I was doing. Trying to believe my own words when I told people how much I love my job. I just wanted to believe that I was getting somewhere, that I could be something people could be proud of – something I could be proud of – some version of successful that I thought mattered to me.

I wanted to believe it so badly, that I didn’t see how I was slowly losing bits of myself at the same time. Lost a dream here, some of my signature energy there, my passion for life there. Bit by bit, I lost it all. And here I am, this empty, vulnerable, scared, lost thing. And I don’t know how to get it back.

Ok yeah sure, I could tell you I know how. I mean, if you asked me, I could give you the steps I’ve laid out: find a better job, start a regular sleep pattern, learn to cook and eat healthier, get back into shape, surround myself with a truly compassionate and understanding community, go to therapy, and so on. I’m going to do all that, yes. Those are the steps I’m going to take, and that’s exactly what I would tell you. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still terrified. And I can still say I have no idea how I’m going to do this. How the hell I’m going to get myself back.

I had to catch myself there – I almost said ‘how the hell I’m going to get back to myself’. Because that implies that I want to go backwards, or get back to something I used to be. And as much as I miss that once amazingly strong, energetic, passionate and competent girl, I’m not that girl anymore. And I never again will be. There is a reason we grow up, grow older, and grow more into ourselves every year.

I don’t want to be anything that I once was. I just want that spirit of me back; that true spirit that’s still always in me, but whom I’ve stopped listening to and lost the connection with. I want to reconnect with that me. That’s why I say I want to get me back, not get back to me. I just want to get back who I am. Find that me again. And I really have no idea how I’m going to do it.

I mean, how do you really do that? How do you define the process to do something like that? It’s bigger than a new job, and regular sleep schedule, and healthy diet, and new home, and new haircut. It’s all those things at once and yet bigger.

That’s what N didn’t get on the phone today. That’s what I couldn’t explain to her. What I couldn’t make her understand. I guess that’s ok though, because she’s not me and she doesn’t think like me. And it’s actually quite refreshing to see such a big example of how we are different. But it’s frustrating because I want her, more than anyone, to understand what I’m going through and approve of my methods.

I guess I just have to accept that she’s not going to get this. As long as she knows I still see the value in all those steps, and recognize that is the way to do this, then I won’t bother her with the bigger concept – that despite those steps, I still have no idea how I’m going to do this. That’s going to have to be something I keep to myself, or only share with those who understand what I mean when I say that.

I have to be strong for myself. Because ultimately, it’s just me who’s in this. My body forced me into this and now I have to confront it. There is no other way out. This is the long hard road and I have to go down it. I have no other choice. And while I really hate that I have no control over that fact, it is a growing opportunity for me.

At the same time, I do have control over how I do it, and how I come out of it at the other end. And that’s what I’m going to focus on. That’s what I need me to focus on. As much as I am lost and terrified, I know that I’m going to need a hell of a lot of courage to get through this. And I’m going to have to dig deep into that inner self, my old forgotten self, to find that courage. It is seriously going to hurt. But I’m going to do everything I can to get it back.

That’s my choice.

Growing Up

I feel older today. Or, at least I want to feel older. I really never liked being young. I always wanted to be older. As a child, I always wanted to grow up, but that was mainly because I wanted to be like my sisters – like Natalie. I wanted to grow up so I could be like her. I always wanted to be her, older, wiser, taking care of myself.

But I also liked be wild. That’s what I did like about being young, was being wild. And it’s not that I don’t like being wild anymore… (laughs) I still like being wild. But it’s a different kind of wild now. I want to be more sophisticated, elegant, graceful… while being wild and creative and passionate. I want to carry myself like a woman, and proud to be. I want to take better care of my appearance, and express this through what I wear, how I walk, the words I use, the choices I make, the activities I engage in.

I don’t want to be a child anymore. I really don’t want to be stuck in my family’s image of me. I don’t want to be stuck as a selfish, obnoxious, annoying, emotional, scared little girl. I want to be strong, in a sense of the word I never knew before; a sense of the word that I’m just now learning. And I want it. I really want it.

I think I can get it. I just have to keep fighting for it. It’s a life long battle, and it’s one that everybody has to come to terms with eventually… well I guess not everybody does. Not everybody is able to. So I suppose I should count myself among the lucky for having recognized it, for having started this battle so early on.

But I can’t even tell you if this is really all that early or not either. I suppose there are other people in the world who have started earlier in their lives than me, or will start later than me. So it’s not that I should compare myself to anyone else, right? I am who I am, and I should just… well, take care of that.

For example, I finally have friends around me who set an example for what I want in my life. I have a real community. I have family, that redefines what that really means for me (because I’ve never really had a very good opinion of the idea). It’s redefining itself right before my eyes. And with that, I’m learning what it means to be a woman. To be soft and strong at the same time.

I don’t want to feel like I have to hide behind the shield of a tomboy image, being rough and tough, a fighter, physically aggravated by everything. I don’t want to be my father.

I don’t want to be my mother either, who freaks out in wild terror anytime emotion confronts her, because she doesn’t know how to deal with confrontation. In fact, my recently developed panic attacks could be a sign that I’m becoming my mother. Oh god, they are. They’re something I inherited from her. Oh and I never wanted to think I was anything like my mother. Well, I don’t really think I am. In so many ways, in more ways than I can count, I am nothing like her. But I suppose I’m so afraid of the possibility that I’m freaking out about it, panicking in the face of it, and letting myself become like her all the same. It’s kind of ironic. And fucked up. Because I’m afraid of becoming like my mother, I am becoming like my mother. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is what’s happening to me. And that’s not OK. I’m turning into her. I’m freaking out, having panic attacks, freezing when faced with overwhelming emotion. And why? That’s not me. That’s her, coming through me. And when I get angry and just want to hit things; when I get frustrated and can’t find the words and resort to my fists, that’s my father coming through me.

I don’t want that. I don’t want this for myself. I’m not them. I’ve never been them, and I’m certainly not going to start being now. I’m going to be someone different. I’m going to be me.

I’m not even going to be my sisters. I wanted to grow up so I could be like them? I don’t want to be them. I want to feel more grown up, yes, but for me. For myself. To be myself. I’m still figuring out what that means, of course. That’s also a life long battle, a life long journey. But I’m figuring it out. I’m getting there. And I should be proud of that. I should be bloody proud of the progress I’ve made so far, of where I’m going, and the fact that I’m starting for possibly the first time in my life to be only that which I am, and want to be. Not because anybody else wants me to be something.

I can do this. I can do this. And God help me, I hope I remember that the next time I feel I’m getting stuck. Next time I panic, I hope I don’t forget.

I’m redefining what all this means to me: family, strength, femininity, vulnerability, friendship, community, trust, dignity, respect… hell, even emotion. I’m redefining all of that, and I’m redefining it in terms that make sense for me, in my own definitions of them. And that is invaluable. That is what I’m doing all this for. That’s the whole point of this entire damn journey.

That’s what I’ve started to do. And by gum, that’s what I’m going to continue doing. And please, please Rebecca – remember that as you do. It’s what it’s all for. It’s for yourself.

Got it?

Worthwhile

It’s funny how much we hang our sense of self-worth on the people outside ourselves.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to help my parents understand who I am, in the hope they might see my worth. I’ve spent my whole life defending my worth to my grandmother, who never believed I had any. And I spent my whole life trying to live up to the expectations of my sisters who, in my eyes, had far more worth than I ever would.

But never before in my life have I been blessed to have so many people in my life who truly appreciate my worth, and help me accept my own worth for myself (which is far more important). People who make me feel worthwhile.

I was reminded of this again today, and so I find it most appropriate and relevant now to share with you the Facebook note I wrote one crazy Monday in the office in tribute to my dearest friends…

Sept 27, 2010
A Message of Gratitude & Love

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these last few weeks, since the burn and the post-frenzy of stress and sickness. As you may know, I have been struggling lately with issues of the heart, work over commitment, time management, career path and my worth, and so on. And as I’ve attempted to get a handle on all this, develop a plan to regain my sanity, I couldn’t help but realize there is one part of my life that does not bring me stress. The one part that is the glue keeping me clumsily together. And that, my dear friends, is you.

I could never have imagined myself so lucky to be surrounded by such an extraordinary plethora of loving, intelligent, perceptive, strong, and inspired people as you all are! I have come to depend on each of you in some way (and you know I’m not so good with depending on people). I am so unbelievably grateful for the support and guidance you each have given me, in your own way, in whatever part of my disjointed life I’ve unloaded to you.

I know this is an incredibly cheesy note, and I’m not normally this gushy (well at least not while sober), but it’s just become so apparent to me through all this recent self-reflection time I’ve had – that I could never have gotten this far without you – and I felt compelled this very moment to tell you.

No matter where we go from here, or how often we connect – no matter what our context or how our story continues – each and every one of you is an incredible and essential force in my life, and I never want you to forget that.

May you each find the peace and sanity you search for, and know always that you are loved.

Rebecca

Eat, Pray, Love

Last night, two lovely ladies and myself sat down at the Awesome House to watch the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts. I absolutely adored the book, but had not yet had the chance to see the movie, so I literally bounced up and down when Gayle suggested the idea. Watching the movie brought back so many thoughts and emotions that I’d forgotten since first reading the book. So I went and dug up the diary entry I’d written back in April as an immediate reaction to the book. Reading now over the old familiar words, I am struck by how much they still relate, and possibly even more so, to my current state.

April 2, 2010
WARNING: The following diary entry is very long. 🙂

Shortly after celebrating my 26th anniversary, I decided to pick up ‘Eat Pray Love,’ which I’d been given as a Christmas gift a few months earlier but had yet to crack open – and not surprisingly as this was just one in a tall stack of books I’ve had every intention (and only intention) of reading in the last few years – so honestly, the fact that I took it up a mere 3 months after being given it is pretty remarkable and demonstrative of how eager I was to read the thing.

So here I am reading this New York Times Bestseller… and it’s actually speaking to me. I mean really resonating with me, in the kind of way that makes you re-evaluate every choice you’ve made to come to the method by which you lead your current existence. (phew!) I’m actually discovering things about myself. I’m realizing it may not be entirely out of my hands that I’ve been so unhappy lately. If Liz, the book’s protagonist, can overcome such depression – if practices such as meditation and Yoga truly are built on the foundation of mastering and letting go of one’s suffering – then perhaps I too can, as the Sanskrit mantra goes, honor the divinity that resides within me.

Ideas are starting to form as well. Perhaps I should try changing up my routine. I mean, honestly, I’ve been doing the same basic routine for 3 years now, the 3 years I’ve been working at this company, living the 9-5 (or rather more 8-6) life a corporate minion is supposed to. And I’ve had a headache for the past 3 years. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps it is time for a change of pace.

Now, I feel I should preface this by saying that I am no stranger to change. In fact, you could say that over the course of my 26 year-journey, I’ve more often been inclined towards change. For example, I’ve dyed my hair just about every typical hair color imaginable – all shades of blonde, red, brunette, black, even orange – I tend to want to run from relationships after a month or two, and every 6 months I’m prone to entirely questioning and refocusing my career goals.

So the idea of changing the pace of my life should be a relatively natural concept. I should be able to wrap my head around this, so why does it seem so foreign to me? Or more interestingly, why haven’t I ever thought to do this before? I do love change, so why is this different?

This early in the journey, I am ill-equipped to answer all these questions buzzing about in my noggin. So I must content myself that my journey will help me strive to answer these along the way. And so I move on, or return as it were, to the ideas that had begun forming themselves in my curious mind. Now ‘Eat Pray Love’ is divided into 108 sections (the number of prayer beads on Indian japa malas) that represent each of Liz’s personal discoveries, but I don’t quite feel like writing that many. So I’ve committed to outlining just 3, which is the purest divisible number of 108.

One: Early to bed & early to rise.

I need to completely change the hours of my daily routine. Living in a lively, social city like San Francisco, I’ve slowly become more of a night-owl, going out on weekends (and often weekdays) until well past midnight, partying and dancing and drinking till I can’t feel anymore – because that’s what everyone does. Then when my alarm goes off at 6:30am for work, I wake up grumpy and groggy, ill-pleased with the concept of getting my day going.

So the idea is to change my conception of a reasonable bedtime, aiming to start my REM cycle by 10pm every night (yes, I realize this makes me seem like a tired old hag). And though I may not actually achieve this, it will at least get me to bed earlier than I do now. Shoot for the moon, and you’ll at least hit the stars.

Then in conjunction with this, I plan to set my alarm for 6am every weekday morning (8am on weekends). I will likewise also likely sleep in a bit past this, but again it will get me up and about earlier than I’ve been doing now. And although I’m not much of a morning person, I do notice that the days I get up earlier, I tend to feel more productive and positive throughout the day. And who knows, perhaps this new routine will eventually help me get over that morning mental block.

So that’s settled. Now on to Two: Meditate daily.

I’ve come to the realization that I talk far too much. Even when no one’s around to hear me, I quite often end up talking to myself… out loud. And I’m always on the go, always busy. Literally every time someone asks me ‘how’ve you been?’ my reply is always ‘oh you know, the usual… busy.’ I need to slow down, I need to push the pause button on my life from time to time… and be ok with it. I need to learn to sit down, relax, and let go.

It’s more than just meditating. That’s the initial idea, or the main method by which I plan to practice this, but what it really boils down to is that I need to learn how to be still and listen. I want to be able to stay still for a while, and just observe, be a witness to everything – my surroundings, the people I interact with, my own thoughts. Only then can I truly understand them, and be at peace. Only then can I learn how to avoid the nagging stress always preying on me. Only then will I find the balance I need to live a healthy, compassionate life amidst the busyness.

And lastly, Three: Identify what I really want (ignoring what I’ve been told I should want).

I began to touch on this in Two, expressing my want to be able to sit still and listen, but this is really a vast enough topic to warrant its own section. I want to figure out what it is I really want, for myself. And then go for it. And so I’ve begun a small list, which I add to every time the moment strikes me, or something I read resonates with me and sparks a new desire. I first reflect on it, to make sure it is truly something I want myself, and not just something that’s generally regarded as good to want. But once determined to be my own, I write it down, and this is what I have so far:

I want:

  • to find spirituality, or recognize the spirituality I already have
  • to feel excited upon waking for the prospect of each day
  • to honor the divinity that resides within me (‘Om Namah Shivaya’)
  • to find the right balance in my life, live harmoniously amid extremes
  • the patience to sit back and let things happen, take them as they come
  • to be able to let someone in without second guessing it
  • to be able to accept my negative thoughts, and let them pass
  • to feel beautiful in my own skin
  • to feel the daily work I do has a real lasting impact on people’s lives, building a better world
  • to better cherish and deepen the few really valuable relationships in my life, quality versus quantity

This Rocky Road of Mine

In some ways, I see the absurdity of my plan.

No one ever really figured out their life’s mission by just sitting down and thinking about it. It came to those ‘enlightened’ people through opportunities that presented themselves as they went on living their lives, most likely through a combination of timing and luck. It probably did not come as some great epiphany while they sat idly in reflection.

So no matter how hard I try, or how long I take, or how much I ponder, I must accept that I will likely not find the answer I want this way. All I can do is now adjust my expectations and instead aim for a better understanding of my current position; what I can do in the very immediate ‘now’ to better achieve a healthy contented state of being. Hopefully that will lead me to ideas for the best next step to take.

Many ideas will surface, but ultimately, if I am to get back out there and open up the possibility for such opportunities, I’m going to have to, as my friend Sarah so poignantly put it, ‘just pick something and run with it.’ And once I hit that ground running, I’ll stumble more and more next steps that will eventually pave the road in the direction of what I am searching for.

It may be a rocky road, but at least it will finally be mine.

Ending the Vicious Cycle

I wish I could be like those people who get excited to wake up at the crack of dawn, jumping out of bed at the sound of their alarm, business suit ready to tackle another productive day at the office. Ah, those happy corporate drones, finding accomplishment sitting at a desk, working on a computer all day, writing a few redundant emails here, attending some pointless meetings there, making the cogs in the wheels of revenue generation turn.

Why couldn’t I be just as happy doing that?

Why instead do I have to feel suffocated and unmotivated in such an environment? I physically ache at the idea of submitting purchase orders and expense reports. I tire too quickly of the endless daily swarm of emails asking this impossible request or that unnecessary question. And all I want to do is get out, just get outside and away from the sounds of monotonous keyboard typing and hushed water cooler gossiping.

I thought loving the company was enough. Believing in the incredible impact Google has on the world’s community, how we are changing the game, creating more access and opportunity for more people.

But I’ve gotten to a point where I just have to face the fact that what I do here does not interest me. I’m pretty sure it never did, to be honest. It was just my way of making my mark in a company that I thought had so much potential to do so much good, that it was worth just getting my foot in the door. And perhaps it still has that potential, but that doesn’t change the fact that my day to day remains tedious and distant.

And for that matter, do I even still love Google as I once did? As a young business, it was such an awesome story to tell: the growth and success it reaped so quickly, while maintaining such a philanthropic start-up culture. But now? Now it’s become so much like just another large corporation, forced to make tougher decisions and more compromises. Now it’s become this large company, desperately trying to still run itself like a small company, and having a terribly conflicted time in the process.

I can’t actually make a difference through this company, or at least the kind of difference I think I want to make. I can’t manifest that impact I desire from this desk. Not given where the company is now, and the role I play in it.

And I’m tired. I’m exhausted every day that I have to wake up before the sun rises, and sit at my desk typing busily away, while the best part of the day passes serenely by. And then you see, the wearier I get of my job, the less I get done. And the less productive I am, the longer I have to work to finish. And the longer hours I work, the later I get to sleep. And the less sleep I get, the wearier I become. And so it perpetuates, the vicious cycle I’ve become.

More and more I’m beginning to see that in order to fully restore my health, my energy, my passion for life, the only thing left to do is to no longer be employed in such a job, at such a company, in such an environment.

And so I must conclude, with a somewhat less heavy heart that I expected, that I must now begin planning my inevitable departure from the Google bubble.

Just Be Me

I’ve been so worried all my life about where I’m going, how I’m getting there, if I’ll ever amount to anything, how I can become good at everything, liked by everyone, and on and on…

But now I see that none of that matters if I’m not happy now. I’ve got to stop chasing a ideal that isn’t even mine, stop trying to catch up to an impossible image. I’ve got to find my own dream, even if it means doing something that isn’t that highly rewarded or acknowledged, even if it’s something I didn’t consider before, even if it means letting go of what I’ve been killing myself working towards for the last 26 years.

I don’t want to live on stress anymore, and I don’t want to keep trying to be everything anymore. I just want to be me. I want to figure out what makes me me, and just be that from now on.

I will have to go back to work tomorrow, as my all-to-brief 3 day self stay-cation comes to an end. But let me not forget what I’ve written here. Let me not lose this precious new nugget of my worth. Just be me, Rebecca, just be me.

Moving Forward

I can’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling right now. The grace & love I was bestowed this last Awesome Weekend, the immense support I’ve been given by a group of infinitely superior human beings, creating an open space for me to completely let go and expose my grotesque vulnerable underbelly. I’ve honestly never been this tuned in to my own weaknesses, let alone so freely shared them with the people around me. And as terrifying as it is, this is the first step. The knowing, the recognizing and releasing of what I’ve held inside for so long.

The next step is to face it head on; look it deep in the eyes and try to unlock its mystery. The thing is, one can never really overcome their vulnerability. It is a part of us, a part of the whole package that is me, and what makes me real and human and fallible. So I realize I can’t just shut it out or win it over, but rather I need to accept it for what it is; be a better person because of it. These weak spots in me are opportunities to grow, to identify where I should be moving forward with my life. And for people like us, forward is the only option. I don’t do standing still.

So here I go. Full speed ahead!

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