misperceptions + life changes

Yesterday I stepped off the ferry, homebound from my part time job (we’ll get to that in a moment). I saw someone that I’ve known since I was kid, and have grown up alongside, albeit in different social circles.

 My newest colleague

My newest colleague

My inner critic ramped up the dialogue before I could say hi.

Shit. Here goes another conversation. I look like a sunburnt ragamuffin and she looks like she has alllll her shit together, plus that of her kids.”

Shame storm has been coming in hot, like a freight train, all week. You see, dear friend, I just quit my job. The job I’ve had for over eight years. The one with the benefits, the cubicle, the colleagues. The one with the biweekly paycheque and the media opportunities. I quit. I quit I quit I quit.

I’m so perfectionist (illusion alert) that I can’t believe that. I. QUIT. Without the six months of money in the bank account, without a buzzing side business ready to launch, without another job lined up.

What I did quit with however, was a dream, a steadfast plan, an amazingly supportive husband, all while furiously knitting a net to catch myself in, should this all go to hell. I also quit with an understanding that there is never a perfect time to do it, and that I had to wager on myself for once. My coach asked me how it all felt, and I replied that it “felt like the first time I ever made a decision solely for myself.”

I started that job four days after I moved out of my skunky little university house. I grew up there, got my masters, did hundreds of media interviews, was published, went far and wide across Canada, directed major campaigns, managed the creation of a website, figured out how to create an app, and basically kicked ass for eight years. I worked with brilliant minds, including leading researchers, all sorts of government and people with incredible stories. As I said in my final email to staff, I am so grateful for it all.

So back to the ferry docks and long time friend. She’s picking up her kid from camp, and asking what I’m up to. I still don’t have this answer down, so I rush through it, double time.

“Well, I just quit my job, am starting my own company, and doing some work on the side, running races for this sailing world championship.”

Inner dialogue: “Holy shit holy shit holy shit. Ugh. Shit rhymes with quit. Fuck.”

“WHOA. Dream life- starting your own company? You just quit? World championship? Your life sounds amazing, way more exciting than mine!”

I just blushed under the sunburn, laughed it off and thanked her. And bee-lined to my car. I’m still figuring this out, and have been a major stressball since, because there is no roadmap for any of this.

So what am I doing? I quit. I’m betting on the fact that I’m a damn good coach, one with a clear vision to help clients. Read more on that here. I’ve also started my own consulting business and am working with clients right now on authentic projects. I’m working that side hustle, hence the part time job. The part time gig is anything but work- I get to bomb around the lake in motorboats, soak up all the Vitamin D I can (and then some) and just have time to process the ballsy moves of late.

Another thing I’m doing? Prioritizing health. It is coming first, and it was a huge motivator for this shift in life. Life is short, and I’m determined to give it all I’ve got. Being on my own schedule, getting out of the cubicle and relaxing have all been critical for me, and my happiness.

On a final note, a lot of people I’ve talked to, combined with the approximately nine million business development sources I’ve combed through, caution against a share all about quitting until you are fully established in life. With all due respect, I think that’s bullshit. We are all figuring out life, and all painting a perceived story—if my awkward encounters and experiences can help you see that you too are doing amazing things in life (even when you are your own worst critic), then we are all better off. We hide our vulnerability a lot in life, but sometimes, you never know how good being vulnerable can feel.

Happy, sunburnt, hustling ragamuffin feels a lot better than the alternative.

 

 

alex kelly

public health + personal wellness