|Courtesy of www.craftyindividuals.co.uk|
This is not me. I am (or was) used to getting up early to do my morning yoga, eat breakfast, run out of the house, work, go to school a few times a week, run errands after work, and trying to look my best doing all of these things. Some days, I could barely breathe. I spent so much time doing something, and I am in an interesting place right now. It's not good. It's not bad, and people tell me that I am in the best place to do things for myself right now. But when you are used to always performing, always striving, and always trying to please others (let me keep it real), resting is not part of the vocabulary. After a while, you (at least I feel this way) start to get paranoid that people think you're a lazy bum. Are you searching hard enough? Why don't you have a job yet? Why are you still in bed? This is what the second month looks like. Not really knowing what to do with myself, except that I know what I should be doing. My close friends know what I should be doing. But somehow, all of these feelings of guilt for not working my butt off every single day begin to eclipse my purpose and my head is filled with so many doubts and fears that it isn't clear enough to do what I should be doing, which is writing my book. Or, you know, enjoying life.
I don't really want to get to the third month of unemployment, but it will be here in about four weeks. While I am starting to feel a shift - it could be the well-paying temporary work I got, it could be the weather, it could be the email inviting me for a phone interview - I am so ambivalent about what I'm feeling, who I am right now, what my purpose is, and where I will land. I am meeting new people, catching up with old friends, and spending more time with family than I'm sure they really want. But I am also missing people so much. I spent about one month with my mother, with whom I had not spent so much time in the past ten years. And at the age of 42, I feel as attached to her as I did when I was five. While I have no children of my own, I had hundreds of students who called me Mama G, Mom, or Mommy. Leaving them feels like I ripped out pieces of my heart and scattered them in so many places. (For Harry Potter fans, it's like leaving little horcruxes everywhere!) And there are some people I miss who I didn't even think I would miss so much. We take so many things for granted - the every day conversations, the meals eaten together, even just passing each other in the hallway - that when those things don't happen anymore, it's like someone pulled the rug out from under you.
Someone told me yesterday, "You turned your life upside down." I never thought of it that way until my feelings started to betray me. When I decided to leave my job and the area I'd lived in since graduate school, I was so happy to do so. I knew it had gotten stale, and that really, there were NO men for me to meet and fall in love and get married and have babies and live happily ever after with (I haven't given up on this dream yet!). I knew that there was nowhere for me to go in my current job. I knew that if I stayed, my spirit would have been crushed. So all I felt was peace and happiness. In the last couple of weeks, I was slapped with reality. I don't have a job. I actually don't have a permanent address. I am staying with family, but ME, I'm HOMELESS. Me. The person who valued her space and her independence. The person who valued being strong and secure. I did turn my life upside down, and while so many people have said that what I did was brave, I don't feel so brave right now.
I told my sister I was afraid that I'd made a big mistake. She said that I did what I needed to do at the time, that of course I would have some regrets. Maybe this happens to everyone; actually, I'm sure it does, but I am usually so sure of myself that it's strange to feel so discombobulated. The easiest thing I could do is go back. I was job searching yesterday and found a position open at my old job, and for about half a millisecond I considered applying for it. I had to talk myself out of it. I thought about how I have an approved leave of absence from my doctoral program, and looked up a department I'd interviewed with at that institution to see if there were any openings. I thought about going back. And again, I had to tell myself that I never even wanted to live there in the first place and that when I interviewed for that job, I was so nervous that I would get it and have to live in that godforsaken place, but I interviewed anyway. (Thank God, I didn't get that job.)
So why am I sharing this? Because, as with all things in life, there is a lesson. I think I'm still learning this, but today, when I told one of my dearest former students "I don't know where I will land", she said, "Somewhere they are going to want you; no doubt you'll definitely be somewhere, because somebody needs you!" And just like that, I remembered. I remembered that I left because I was no longer needed where I was. I left because my assignment was up. My most vulnerable students, my first semester freshmen, were almost all doing well academically. My sophomores and I had developed great relationships, but they actually needed me to leave so that they could grow up - several of them have told me that my leaving has forced them to do so. My juniors and seniors, for the most part, were comfortable with advocating for themselves and planning for their futures. And my women's leadership group has an amazing team of young women who understand the mission and goals of the organization and are more than capable of carrying the vision forward. My friends had either left, or had other pursuits that were taking up their time, and I no longer felt supported, personally or at work. It was time to go.
Moving forward is hard. Yes, in the beginning, you might feel some peace. That is what God gives you so that you have the strength to take the risk. But in the transition time, you will feel doubt. That's when I keep reminding myself that God brought me here, and He will not leave me. I'm not always going to be in this state of emotional purgatory; and yet this is where I need to be right now - to be cleansed of old thoughts and habits that related to an old lifestyle, and to start again, pure and ready to embrace the new assignment God has for me.
The feeling of homelessness happens when your soul and spirit are unsettled. That feeling of not knowing where you will land will go away when you land in your new purpose. And wherever your spiritual feet touch the ground, that will be home. It's not always where your friends and family are, or where you have job security, but where your spirit says, "I am home. I am where I need to be for this time in my life."