There’s something about that quote that gets under my skin.
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I’ve certainly been dwelling on that edge over the last few weeks. About a month ago, I quit a perfectly well-paying job with a local non-profit. I’m still a bit scared to say that out loud: did I really spend years hustling for a management position only to walk away from it after 6 weeks? Yes, yes I did. And to be honest, it was not a difficult decision. I was the wrong fit for the organization and could not, in good conscience, take a salary when I wasn’t 100% committed to delivery. A salary which I negotiated up, before accepting the position. It felt wrong & I’ve learned to trust that feeling. On my first Monday off, I felt the familiar rush of possibility. Without fail, every time I walk away from a “proper job”, I get a flood of new opportunities and ideas.*
Predictably, terror set in soon afterwards. I’ve been supporting myself financially since my late teens, and it hasn’t always been easy. During a particularly lean spell, I had biscuits for dinner each night because it was all I could afford. But now, as a woman of 24, I have the means to put myself through college. I have the opportunity to step away from a difficult work situation and strike out on my own. After years of nurturing my entrepreneurial dreams on the sidelines, I now have time to explore them. It’s wonderful, but also terrifying.
Over dinner last week a friend, intently but with kindness, asked: “Clare, what are you doing?” (This girl recently got a huge investment into her start-up social enterprise.) She was right to ask, but I don’t have a good answer. After 8 years of flip-flopping from Zambia, to India, to America to home, I still don’t really know what I’m doing. So, it’s time to stop jumping around and pick something. I have raised the bar on myself and what I want to achieve. I’m investing in some great career coaching, which I know will birth all kinds of new projects. It’s exhilarating, though it also makes me want to hide under the bed with a good book.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any of the answers. But hopefully, I’m getting a little clearer on the right questions. And for me, both the questions and the answers are found in heartfelt chats with family & good friends usually over monster slices of cake and red wine.
With huge gratitude to those people who listen while I wander; you know who you are.
P.S. If you are thinking of shaking up your life, let me just say this: there’s something to be said for not knowing but leaping regardless; for making the choice based on what feels right rather than what logic dictates; for having faith in your ability to hustle, make it happen and build a life that you can’t even imagine today.
*yep, I’ve quit “proper jobs” a couple of times. That’s probably how I’ve racked up 16+ jobs so far.
Thanks to the girls are Revolution Apparel for this great image.