This is a submission in our monthly contest. December’s theme is Growth. Enter your own here!
When we think of growth, we often think of the most difficult challenge we have recently overcome. Sometimes, the challenge comes from the family (children, spouse, parents) sometimes the challenge comes from work and sometimes it comes from our inner conflicts.
For me, the challenge is my own mindset.
You see, I have been a lawyer for a very long time. 12 months ago, I decided to take a break from a 20-year career in the corporate world. This has meant losing much of my identity as a person. In the corporate world, I am me. I am not someone’s mum, I am not someone’s wife, I am simply ME. The person I was before I got married, the person I was before I became a mum. I am now making a decision to walk away from a very important aspect of being ME. When I say I’m taking a “break” I know I’m really kidding myself, because deep down, I know it’s not a break. It’s an end. So for the past 12 months, I had to find something to fill that void.
I decided I’d become an entrepreneur – because that’s what people do, right? They leave the corporate world to change the world. I started talking to people about becoming an entrepreneur. I started a course on becoming an entrepreneur. I searched Google for what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I made a checklist of the qualities of entrepreneurs.
- Perseverance – tick!
- Problem solving – tick!
- Hard work – tick!
So far so good.
But there is one question that keeps coming up and I keep avoiding it because I had no idea how to answer it. The one question that stumped me was: What are you passionate about?
Now that I have taken a career break and have so much more time to do things, I can finally just do things for my own reasons. I can finally do the things that I have always wanted to do but have put off doing for so long because of school, work, children, housework and other priorities. I can finally do things that I am passionate about. The problem is, I couldn’t think of what it is that I am passionate about.
After a lifetime of being a responsible [insert: student, employee, adult, parent] in a respectable job and doing what I’m supposed to do to meet everyone else’s needs, I found myself in a position where I have no passion. I’m pretty sure it’s not that I have no passion. It’s probably more accurate to say that my passion remains to be discovered. People have asked me to think back to when I was 10 years old. What did I want to be? I remember I just wanted to run my own business and make lots of money! Exactly what type of business I wanted to be in wasn’t well-defined at the age of 10 years old.
So growth, for me, has been about rediscovering my passion. It’s been about trying new things and experiences, especially ones that I have previously thought to be frivolous or ‘useless’. I have often thought that unless I’m doing something that is economically useful, it’s a waste of time. The past 12 months has been about growing my own mindset. Being okay to feel as if I had just given up 20 years of my identity for … “nothing”; it’s okay to have idle time; it’s okay to “waste”’ time to dream again and it’s okay to embark in creative pursuits such as writing! Not writing legal briefs, not writing the law or writing policies and procedures with an economic outcome. Just writing –anything – for fun. As I slowly begin to write again, I am reminded of the joy I used to feel when I wrote as a child. I now understand why I always had an affinity for writing legal arguments rather than verbal arguments. I have always been drawn to writing – in any form, it would seem!
They say a picture paints a thousand words. But for me, I prefer to use a thousand words to paint my vision of growth.