(Glassy lake mirrors new springtime vegetation all around. An idyllic scene from Magnolia Plantation, just outside Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by CKMellor)
One suggestion I give to younger who ask: In life, align with those who share your core commitments, values, and goals; otherwise, you find yourself continually shoveling against the tide in these most important areas. If you do find yourself doing that, whether it be friends, co-workers, or even a mate, it’s time to reassess, perhaps quit the territory, and seek a new milieu.
I speak from experience, for I have spent vast chunks of my life interacting, befriending, or married to people who bore no resemblance to the inner me. Today, I don’t make the same mistakes and I listen to my inner voice: if something feels bad, I honor the feeling, examine it, and act on it.
Many years ago, my younger daughter worked with an advertising company in NYC that kept its employees to an almost Dickension schedule. They worked 60-hour weeks, had very few days off, and the lowliest and newest were paid a meager salary. She took the job because she deemed it a way to get her foot in the door. She hated the petty backbiting and “Mean Girl” attitude of shallow types who did their best to fan the office gossip mill. Quite frankly, my daughter didn’t fit in, but she waged an internal war with herself, wondering if by leaving, she were a quitter.
When she finally signaled her boss she was leaving (because she’d found a new job), he warned “the grass isn’t always greener,” but she bravely persisted. The upshot of her move is that she’s with a far more progressive company; she’s got vastly-improved health care benefits; and she’s more than doubled her salary.
Had she given in to the fear of venturing out, she’d continue in a job where she’d be mired in mediocrity, never getting the chance to stretch. Instead, she now says, “I love the people I work with. We work long hours, but we really like each other, so it’s fun.”
To me, that equates with “finding one’s pond.”
Finally, if the situation (or people) sets your gut a-jangle, that’s a clear sign you haven’t found your pond. You’ll need to be brave and take the first halting steps into unfamiliar territory. Lose the nay-sayers and fear-mongers, for they’ll only rob you of your purpose.
What’s in it for you? Well, like the youngster in the “Ugly Duckling,” you might discover you’re not a lowly duckling, after all, but a graceful swan. But you’ll only ever learn that truth if you dare to move out to the larger pond. It’s there you’ll find your true identity.
Biddy encourages you to “start paddling.” But “Get your ducks in a row, first” (meaning–“Nail the other job first.”)
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