I recently remembered a time in my life from around 12 years ago. I had two just-about-grown sons and bills to pay. Like many, I needed the steady income and benefits. I had just worked my way through school, finally earning a degree in communications. For a while, I was able to survive with a temporary agency, picking and choosing where I wanted to work while seizing creative freelance opportunities wherever possible. Eventually, my efforts led to a full time position in Corporate America.
Admittedly, I was one of the lucky ones. If I had to put my creative dream as a writer on hold for a while and settle for a “regular” job, at least I landed one that recognized my talents and created opportunities for me to use them. That’s not to say that I exactly skedaddled up the corporate ladder. I was a bit of an anomaly…..a creative soul in a very conservative traditionally structured organization….and in the south, no less. Translation….I was an assertive, goal oriented woman mired deeply within the good ole boy network. Not exactly a recipe for success in those days.
Frankly, I’m sure that most executives through the years didn’t exactly know what to think of me, but I was promoted a few times in spite of their confusion. In 12 years, I had been given amazing opportunities to write, produce, and voice corporate videos, book national speakers and entertainers and serve as set director for our corporate general sessions at our annual conventions. In my last year, I was even promoted to my dream job as associate managing editor of our corporate magazine. Not bad for a 9 – 5.
So why did I leave? Why did I choose to say goodbye to a good salary when the economy was at an all time low? Why would I walk away from a sure thing?
A dozen years earlier, I had no tangible experience nor did I have the confidence that experience creates. And I lacked one other essential ingredient……a financial alternative. But, I worked hard, my boys graduated from school and I had a little something in the bank to show for it.
In the beginning, I’d been afraid to let go of my “freedom” as a creative spirit. But, funny thing about that. The corporate world that I, at one time, so desperately feared had become my lifeline….a paycheck and annual raises I could count on…security. I was holding on so tightly to the known because I feared re-entering the world of the unknown. Until one day I realized that the known didn’t feel so secure any more. As a veteran in our department, I’d slowly begun to lose my voice as new talent and leadership emerged. The significance that I’d worked so hard to create didn’t seem significant anymore. Instead of energizing and breathing new life into me as fulfilling careers should do, I felt used and spent, as though the life was being sucked out of me. Sunday nights were the worst because Monday morning was only a few hours away. That was no way to work, and it certainly was no way to live.
That’s when I knew it was time to let go. I reasoned that if the known wasn’t adding to my life, I might really be missing out on some truly amazing experiences that awaited me outside those walls. I had come full circle. Both of my sons were happy, successful young men….proof that I had made the right decisions along the way. They were my first and most meaningful dream, which had been fulfilled. Now, it was time to return to my other dreams and finally make them real.
So a miraculous new journey began, and oh what a difference it made in my life. Since then, I’ve developed skills and met some of the most amazing professionals and plain ole “good” people I’ve ever known. I did return to the corporate world for a while … another great experience. Now I’ve come full circle, enjoying a successful freelance career once again. All is well.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin