The title says it all. And I don’t know where to start. Let’s start with work. A common question that has been coming up quite often is, “how long have you been working there?” However, the answer is usually preceded with a pause and a slight moment of introspection – “about 15 years”. Fifteen years. But it hasn’t been easy.
My job consist of delving into the lives of others to a point. It involves less talking and more compassion. It’s like listening to an on-going story with endless chapters most times with no ending. If I think about all the people that have crossed my path, I really don’t know if their story ended on a high or low note. All I see is the phrase, “to be continued.” At times that can be extremely unsettling but I manage to mentally walk away or separate, which isn’t easy. Don’t get me wrong, there are a large number of success stories that I refer to in times of self doubt. It’s nice when I do actually come across some of these folks because it completely rejuvenates me and helps through the rough times. Like I said though, it hasn’t been easy. There are times the stories I hear consumes me where I isolate myself mentally or make attempts to place it outside my body. I try to replay certain situations but really, what’s done is done and I just need to move on.
Yet tugging at this philosophical struggle are the expectations set forth by my place of employment. I’m fortunate to be at a place where I can do what I enjoy. On the other side though is this fictitious race to do more, to accomplish more, but to work with less. It’s not easy. A lot of what I do at work is very soulful, meaning I’m committed from a very deep place (which is probably why it is tough to walk away from a lot of things). When my purpose is questioned, it hurts. I once heard someone make a reference about me saying, “there he goes, accountable to no one.” That hurt. I wasn’t angry, I was hurt and to me that is worse. I took it as everything I do had no meaning. It was if someone grabbed hold of my soul with a strong fist and gave it a good squeeze. I need to remember though that’s done is done and I just need to move on.
In order to advance in my place of employment, it is required to submit a lengthly document that includes details of your accomplishments and its impact. Each time one advances, those being impacted need to be greater. For instance, if you were a teacher, the first level would be impact to your students, then the next would be impact to your students and colleagues, and the next would be impact to your students, colleague, and the school…so on and so forth. I’ve gone through a similar process many times and its been good. The process helps you to think about where you are and where you want to go. Depending on the outcome, it can also be a great validation process however my last one was different. My purpose was questioned. This time it wasn’t a passing comment but a documented set of statements questioning my degree of commitment. As if the work I’ve done in the past 15 years wasn’t enough. But this was a process and I need to honor it. I have to admit though, when your sense of purpose is questioned self doubt starts to arise, which is not a good thing. Do I really need to explain how my internal beliefs translate into action? I suppose I do, but that process could leave one feeling very vulnerable, very exposed. Did I want to do that?
My wife is, and always been the voice of reason. “They can’t take anything from you.” That is true. All I can do is stay true to what I believe in and “move on”. But it hasn’t been easy. Early in the summer I’ll find out if a group of my peers believe in what I’ve been doing these past 15 years. This will probably be one of the most challenging moments in my professional life. Do I let these folks determine what I believe in or do I reclaim my soul and treasure it, own it regardless of the outcome.
To be continued.