After the First Step (Let's be Honest)

I have made a number of big changes in my life over the past year - so many that I feel like I should be some kind of expert by now (I’m not). My most recent decision to leave my career in administration to accelerate the completion of my degree and begin making my way down a new path has left me feeling more than a little on edge.

Once I become fed up and uncomfortable enough with a situation in my life it is almost easy to take the first big step towards something new. Quitting a job, deciding to put down the bottle, or sending away a university application are all relatively simple actions that set the wheels in motion for a change in direction.

What one rarely hears about is the anxiety, the stress, and the self doubt that come charging in after the first step has been taken and the real work begins. I am as guilty as anyone of glossing over the tough stuff once I've made it through to the other side of a big change, even though I know that the rough patches are where the magic really happens. Anxiety isn't sexy, I guess. Stress isn't glamorous. But the defining moments in our lives can’t become triumphs until they have been trials, and the struggles that come between decision and payoff are so vital to the process that it would be a damn shame to ignore them.

And so I think it’s time to be honest about where I'm at.

Since quitting my job I have spent most of my time alternating between taking active, measurable steps towards my goals and hiding under the covers on my bed trying not to panic over what I've done. One minute I will be chatting my way through a coffee date/informational interview with someone in my field of interest and the next I will find myself quivering on the couch with a mug of tea, questioning every decision I have ever made.

I've started a new job with flexible hours, increased my course load for next term, begun packing up a mountain of my possessions for donation (more on this another time), reached out to friends and friends of friends who are already working in addictions/mental health, and studied my ass off for my classes. I have also cried in the bathtub, worried over just about everything (including how much to share on this blog), lost my temper, been frozen by anxiety, and questioned myself more times than I can count.

This is not easy. It is not a simple or pleasant or in any way clear process. In some ways I find that comforting, because if it’s not easy then there’s a chance the payoff could be huge. There is a chance that I am making the right moves and that what I am doing here, the way I am shaking up my life, could be exactly what I need.

It certainly feels right, anyway. And I guess that’s what counts.