Walking away from the known onto a path where you don’t know what will happen next can be intimidating.
I knew it was time. I knew it for a while, but I kept counting my ducks, putting them in rows and reshuffling as I saw fit. Honestly, I was committed to the safe space of comfort. Committed to a place where I didn’t need to worry, lean or wholly depend on a “dream” because there was already a donor funding my “security”. A monthly injection, a direct deposit of dollars and cents in exchange for my 8, sometimes 8+ hours. Some days I fought with my own common sense as I calculated the risk of leaping because budget-wise it didn’t make sense to leave.
What if I leapt and everything ACTUALLY worked out? Deciding to leave my 9-5 was easily one of the most intense periods of my life. This post is less about workplace dynamics and more about how the emotions of anxiety and fear affected other passions I had. There came a point when I became aware that I was no longer maximizing my full potential in my career. The realization made me uneasy but I pressed through it. There came another time when I became aware that my body was so maxed out it fell prey to stress. Stress manifested itself as inexpressible joint pain. After recovery, I pushed past that too.
I had no challenge pressing through hard times. But when it occurred to me that I reached a plateau in my career it bothered me. It was a place where stagnation began to settle in and growth was not imminent. Some days I woke up feeling hopeless and locked into a system that was no longer working along with me. The weight of not maximizing my potential messed with my mind a lot. Since this was the case it should’ve been an easy transition out, right? Ha!
Paralysis of Analysis
The more I analyzed, the more likely it seemed that I’d fall face first if I leapt. This scared me the most. Then there’s the other side of the spectrum – what if I don’t leap? What if I continue in this mold, what would become of me? Honestly, it was tough. I experienced emotional, mental and physical strain. Each episode was severe like I’d been on someone’s hit list as their bull’s eye target.
In the stillness of my mind, I’d see and hear myself preaching a word of endurance. Most times there was a congregation of 1 (myself) and sometimes a few (friends) would pass through the service. The sermon – “Hang in there, better days are coming!” Yet, here I was at the brink of breakdown fumbling my way through a maze of mess; knowing full well what I needed to do but crippled by fear of the unknown.
I felt the paralysis creep in the more I tried to work out every single detail. Tell me, who willingly walks away from any form of security, into a blind taste test not knowing what they’ll encounter along the way?
I do apparently…
Metamorphosis or A Trap?
Fear has a way of clouding our vision, a way of making things appear different from what reality is. At times I couldn’t figure out whether this transition period was a cocoon or a trap.
A mentor told me it’s critical to differentiate between what is God’s pruning and purpose at work in our lives and what is the devil’s plans parading as our purpose. The latter is really a vice working to steal, kill and destroy.
Pruning and refinement weren’t issues for me at all, at least after the processes are over I would be able to tell the difference. But during the period under review, it was as if there was a perpetual drought. My joy stolen, passion killed and my vision for my life nearly annihilated. I was miserable and unhappy on most days. and I’d often tell Chris (my husband) not to ask me about my days at work because it drained me rehashing everything.
I put down most of my passions because I literally had no brain space to create, to write or express myself. There was an environment sucking all my energy and it affected all spheres of my life, that’s when I had to draw the line in the sand.
A lightbulb went off in my head and I started to analyze the duration of the “trying season” I’d been experiencing for well over 5 years. Seasons are supposed to come and go right? Year after year I kept hoping for change but saw very little evidence. And with every passing year, I became better at talking myself into staying in my comfort zone. To stay where I’m comfortable and be “hopeful” while trying to “see the best in everything”.
This attitude bled into my desire to create. I’d often say “hopefully someone else catches the wave, and they’d become successful.” I nearly tossed the towel, because my resources were being zapped. I’d somehow become a master at hanging in and settling, a dangerous place to be.
This is how fear operates. It locks you into the lens of a false narrative, a hope that someday change will come. In the meantime, life is passing by.
I started to underscore all the cycles that were repeating themselves, not only in my career but life in general. Bad habits, toxic environments, all working together to keep me bound to a sense of security because walking away from a system that seemingly works isn’t a popular opinion.
I’m still learning that each of us plays a part in managing the narrative of our lives, we allow and disallow what we decide to allow and disallow. This sets the tone for how we are treated by others. Sometimes going against the grain of the popular opinion will cost you – go the distance anyway! If God has approved you, He will sustain you!
P.S I hate fear!
I’ve lost a lot of precious time entertaining fear for one reason or another and I’m dropping this note here to encourage you not to follow my path in this regard. I know it’s time I cannot regain, and I thank God that each season serves a purpose. But when I look at all I could have and should have done by now, sometimes I just want to smack myself across the hand like – “did you really fall for this?!” Fear is a LIAR! Feeling bouts of anxiety a.k.a nerves before discovering new territory is normal but press through. Don’t crawl into a hole and shy away from your purpose.
You may feel the anxiety swelling in your stomach but pursure your purpose anyway.Shaquille Millar
I’m not advocating knee jerk decision making at all, what I am saying is, there are times to leap and times to endure, but we must never mistake a time to leap as an endurance test. If we do, we miss the moment and wander around in a desert of false hope. Hope without action is as dead as my nerves were at that point of holding on. Stagnation becomes a heavy place if you don’t have active hope.
When I finally decided to lean, it was a battle going against the grain of what I’d been taught -“never leave sure for unsure”. Folks told me my timing was off especially because the local economic climate wasn’t the best. “Jobs are hard to come by.” “You should hang in until something better comes along…”. Someone even told me they didn’t think my choice was the right move for my long term career.
Can I tell you something? This faith walk doesn’t always look like the sure thing, you can’t always underpin how everything will work out. If you’re walking by faith it’ll demand a sure response to what may seem like an unsure outcome but God is in control!
You have to trust God!
I have needs but of them all, I primarily desire to be in alignment with my purpose and improve emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Since the environment no longer nourished my development, I decided to leap. Since leaping, I began working on my confidence again. I manage the process by encouraging myself to believe again although dryness was all I knew for some time. I restarted writing again and carve out intentional time for self-care. I zero in on what I could immediately control and breathing easy when there was a task outside of my control.
I wrote that to say this – sometimes we wait on the bay of life’s seas hanging in to see if the “right” opportunity will dock in our bay. Sometimes it docks and other times it doesn’t. Yes, there’s a time for patience but there’s also a time for action.
If your gut is making you miserable, prodding you to do the thing. Yes, that thing that just crossed your mind. The something you’ve always wanted to do but too afraid to start – don’t ignore it anymore. Pray and seek counsel on the timing, map your steps AND take the leap. It could be a business, a blog, a YouTube channel, writing a book, carving out personal time, learning a new skill, picking up an old past time. I don’t know what it is but do your research and then take the knowledge and put it to work.
I’ll tell you, taking the leap doesn’t guarantee immediate success. It doesn’t initially feel comfortable because what you have to walk away from holds a measure of value and what you’re walking towards may be bigger than you. But! There is a joy to be found in aligning with your purpose. And whatever is ahead, you are Graced to Grow through it.
Can’t wait to see the best come out of you!