“Breathe. A deep, freeing inhale and exhale. The trunk slams shut. I take one last look, then bounce into the front seat of my blue-purple Mazda3 like a kid on a carnival ride. I’m free. Reverse. Shift. Forward.
November 1, 2006, is the first day of the rest of my life. I see Hollywood in my rearview; I rather poetically drive past the turnoff to my first apartment, drive past Pasadena where my first post-college job was. I see my LA fade behind me as open sky unfolds before me. The red, pink, tan desert replaces the gray, trafficked cement. I’m alone. I’m free. I’m headed east on the 10 for a fresh start.”
The above is an excerpt from my upcoming Memoir, I AM NOT. Forging your own path, whether it’s breaking free of others’ expectations for your life, or those you had for yourself, is never easy. It takes courage. And, as in my case in 2006, it takes your pain reaching a level too large to ignore.
For me, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was leaving pursuit of a career path, leaving the only vocation I’d identified with–– I was leaving my identity. I didn’t know what else I was qualified for or how long I’d get to move back into my parent’s home. I had no answers, only questions. I did not feel brave or smart. I felt terrified and lost.
And yet, the pain of staying surpassed my fear of leaving.
Since then, I’ve learned and coach others that:
- Brave occurs only in the face of fear.
- It’s OK to have nothing figured out.
- No one can change your circumstances but you.
- Don’t stay stuck in a life you hate, because you’re afraid others will think you couldn’t hack it.
- You can always make more money, or change a job, but you can never make more time. Don’t waste it.
- Your identity cannot be 100% attached to any one thing; person, a job, it’s not healthy.
Lastly, I’ve learned that so often, the greatest turns in life come when you let go of how you expected or planned your life to be. The mantra I clung to shortly after November 1, 2006 (and turn to, to this day) is: “Whatever happens, I’ll handle it.”
And you will. If you chose to.