the middle

When I quit my job in August, it was a weird time. I was doing something that I celebrated, that I had dreamt about, that I was doing solely for me. I was also full of doubt and a rollercoaster of regret. I didn't know exactly how things were going to work out- there was only the thinnest of plans sketched together, so thin that if you squinted, they weren't really there.

Also, going against the grain is hard. Scary. Not understood. If you are sitting in a cubicle or classroom that you hate right now, you may be salivating over my story. Loving the idea of giving the proverbial middle finger to the well-established norm, bucking the trend and crafting a life you love. You may be charting your own departure, cribbing together a plan that will allow you to take a leap into a world that just seems right.

And I love that. I was there, I was you. I. get. it. When you decide to change your entire life, choose yourself/happiness/health/sanity over the career/title/investment strategy, that is powerful. So fucking powerful. You become focused on the goal, which leads you to read inspirational stories and soak up all the ideas. That cubicle situation that is slowly killing your soul? It falls away until it is only a stepping stone or a means to an end.

But let's talk about the middle. Once the bravado had worn off and I had packed up my last office plant, that was it. At thirty years old, I was trying to figure out what was up. I had plans and dreams- they were just cultivating at that point. So I got back into sailing- I've talked about it here before, but I went from the cubicle to a power boat, pale to slightly burnt.

And that's where I processed. It was busy work, at times super physical, surrounded by people firing off flares and cannons, dropping anchors and dealing with all sorts of things nautical. But a lot of the time, it was silent, or alone, or time to think. I had to come up against where I was. 

The middle also had a cast of characters- there were five or six of us, back and forth, out on the lake every day. They are all people I've grown up with, but we've all done vastly different things. It was through those long days, baking under the sun, or shivering in our sweaters, that I started to strip away the pretenses and stories I had developed over the years. It was refreshing, working with a group that, quite frankly, didn't give a fuck about certain things, but were loyal and committed and some of the hardest workers I know. There was absolutely no room for bullshit.

The middle was the perfect antidote to the world I had come from, and reminded me of who I was at the core. It was long conversations with everyone, it was crying in my car, it was bouncing business ideas off of them all. It was hating what I had done, then loving it. It was building business plans off the side of a boat. 

My muscles got stronger.

My eyes got brighter. 

My skin got frecklier. 

I got through the middle. 

That summer will go down as one of the best. Certainly, also one of the hardest (I quit, I started my biz, our beloved dog died, we moved, we rollercoaster'ed), but I'm so grateful for that summer, that middle, those people. 

alex kelly

public health + personal wellness