It’s dark in the transition tunnel

November 4, 2011

Career counseling

I’m struggling to write because I’m struggling through this transition. And it’s not something you can talk to people about very easily (or write about very easily) because everyone thinks I’m living the dream. At least that’s what I think they think. Quit your job and do whatever you want or do nothing. Awesome.

I wrote myself a note that says: Take the struggles and turn them into something productive for others.

Seems like a worthy goal so here’s what I have for today:

My whole life I’ve been rewarded for being normal. We all have. We’ve all been richly rewarded for conformity. Sit down. Shut up. Don’t be weird. Just like my dog, I learned how to get a treat and avoid a swat. Good girl.

The message to us has been: Follow the path we set for you and take the little crumbs we scattered along the way and be content. But I’m not doing that. And everyday that big rolled up newspaper is coming for me.

I’m doing most of the things I said I would do with my sabbatical. But somehow none of it counts. That voice of conformity is relentless: No job? No paycheck? No good.

I was sick this week and therefore got an unexpected 2½-day reprieve from the guilt. Confined to my couch encampment, I watched movies and napped and read, all without judgment or remorse.

I’m happy to be back among the living. Although I don’t fully understand why, the “sickness allowance” may have helped me to turn the corner. There seems to be a cheerful impetus propelling me to write this, not an oppressive weight holding my feet to the fire.

I know I’m doing the right thing. I’ve made the right choice to veer off the well-trodden path. I’ll be better for it and my work life will be better for it. And once I burst victoriously from this transition tunnel, I’ll be encouraging others to come along.

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7 Comments on “It’s dark in the transition tunnel”

  1. Denise Says:

    There’s this quote by Vita Sackville-West, something about “to reckon by achievement is to concede to the prevailing system of the world.” Lately, it feels like the world is broken. I think more and more people are waking up to that. It is an act of heroism to step off the treadmill and try to forge something authentic and true. It is not safe. It is not easy. It is a process full of discomfort and uncertainty. It is, nevertheless, the most important work we can do. Thank you for showing some of the angst that exists “behind the curtain.”


  2. Meredith Says:

    As you know, I can totally relate. If I start to feel that way it always helps when I remember the words in Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. Hang in there!!


  3. Johnna Says:

    Gretchen: As of last Thursday I am without a job. I do however have a new husband. While I have not done the “work” you have about your new direction, I am at a similar crossroads. What do I do next? Is it ok not to job search ALL day? Is it ok to not work for a week, a month, or longer? Yes! Yes, it is.


    • gretchen Says:

      Congratulations!! You are the Queen of Change right now. Now see, I can easily tell you to take some time to adjust and find your new comfort zone. I’ll try to do the same. Thanks for the support from someone who can truly empathize!


  4. Nick Says:

    Change is difficult. I am sure you can remember my many reluctances’s
    The 90 day thing is very true, you I think are just short of a month ?# . And the sickness I suspect was your body also adjusting , releasing all the years of toxic work.
    Once you recevie (payment ) for what it is you are doing you will find that balance that is so important.

    Good Luck as Always, Cheers !


    • gretchen Says:

      Interesting thought about purging the toxic work. Would explain the lightness that has followed. I’ll keep that 90-day mark in mind. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always.


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