I am not one for new year’s resolutions.
I always just pick one word, a gentle aspiration to carry with me throughout the year.
My word for 2017 was “soften.”
I had imagined this to mean learning - through self-care and introspection - how to be a kinder, more compassionate friend to myself. Strength has always meant internal hard edges, discipline and grit to me. I wanted to learn how it could be centered in something softer - in vulnerability and releasing control.
It has been a year of softening. But I was wrong about how it would happen. Constant travel, a difficult work environment and my changing immigration status have pushed me to my limit. I am softening because I feel too broken to do anything but that.
A few days ago, I shared on instagram that I was taking a timeout. A leap of faith into the unknown career-wise. I asked if anyone who was following along had done this and, if so, what advice they might share. I was blown away by the response and surprised by how many people were considering making this decision but felt lonely in that process. Thank you, thank you, for your sincere and kind messages. They mean the world to me <3
A compilation of the most resonant pieces of advice follow below. Let me know what you think, and if you have more wisdom to share.
MAKING THE DECISION
- The decision is part preparation and part courage. It is overwhelming to feel financially unstable. Make sure you have a good base. This may not mean three months of cash in the bank - that’s ideal but a privilege not everyone has. It might be knowing that you have couches to stay on; a part-time gig (Lyft, babysitting, dog walking) that covers food and your phone bill; a solid support network; some kind of healthcare or health contingency plan; and a lean budget you’re prepared to stick to. But at the end of the day, this only gets you so far in feeling ready. The actual decision is when preparation and courage collide - and it feels like there’s no other way forward.
DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY
- It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Financially, emotionally. That feeling doesn’t really go away for a long time. But you become accustomed to it and, on the best days, it fuels you like nothing else does. Learn how it can fuel you and then magic happens.
- Trust the process, rather than focusing on the goals. Put one foot in front of the other. Even if you don’t know where it’s leading yet.
- Take care of yourself. And self-care does not simply mean sleeping in late or doing nice things.. It also means doing the things that are good for you but may not be fun or easy - go to the dentist, declutter, find a therapist, exercise. It will feel good when it’s done.
- Take your time, be patient with yourself. It may not be obvious what you want.
SPENDING YOUR TIME
- Make lists. Lots of lists.
- Meet new people. And not just people that you think will get you somewhere. Take any help or suggestions you can get that feel good. You never know what ideas they might spark, what friendships might form or where it might lead.
- Read all the books you didn’t have time to before. Make a book list, an ambitious one.
- It’s so scary and humbling at the same time. But it was entirely worth it.
- Honestly, I’m still floundering.
- Somehow it always does come together beautifully in its own way