On Navigating Change Through a Difficult Time

Photo by Ryan James Christopher on Unsplash

2019 was a difficult year for me to define. I went through a lot of unexpected changes, more than I could have ever anticipated, but that’s life. I felt extremely lost in my career and I didn’t have a good sense of where I was heading.

At the beginning of 2019, I had lost a job that I had been working for almost 3 years. I viewed losing this job as a sign of failure. It made me feel vulnerable in every sense of the word and I was struck by an intense fear that things weren’t going to be whole again. I thought I wasn’t going to find another job that I liked due to the trauma of the situation. It felt like a dramatic shift. I viewed it as the end of the world, even though it wasn’t. Things naturally fall apart in life. It’s how we respond to them is what is important.

Through this experience, my idea of wholeness and meaning of work started to change. I started questioning the things that were really important to me. Yes, having a roof over my head and some money in my bank account was important, but what if the things I was doing to achieve those things weren’t bringing me happiness, then what was the point?

Working backwards, I looked a future version of myself at the age of 50. What did I want to wake up to? Looking back, what would be my contributions to the world? How would I feel about all the things I had done? Once I had made my realizations I started working from there and taking it one day at a time.

Work is such a huge part of our lives. It didn’t matter what I would be doing next. Whether I decided to pursue a creative marketing position or pursue photography full-time. I didn’t want to let a job title and associated salary to define who I was as a person. As long as I did my job with purpose and meaning that is what mattered. I think so many people get caught up chasing the next thing that they forget to be grateful for the present moment. I’m guilty of this fact.

I had to remind myself that nothing is permanent. There’s a sense of freedom in understanding this as we go through life. Relationships change, jobs change, people change, and most of all, life changes. It took me some time to accept that losing my job is what was necessary for me to pursue a new path and seek a new challenge. Every roadblock that we face in life can be viewed as a lesson, not an end. It’s all part of the process.

Fear has prevented me from doing many things in my life. It’s a voice that lives inside your head that can stop you in your tracks immediately. I’m not alone in this. It has set me back in a number of ways. I’ve let go of a lot of writing opportunities because I didn’t think I would be good enough for it. I didn’t feel worthy and compared myself to a lot of my peers that succeeded. So many of us have this dialogue with ourselves when we make the decision to do things that might be or might not be worthwhile.

One of the biggest lessons that I learned last year is that in order for me to build the life that I wanted I needed to do things that were good for me and not what I thought seemed good to other people. So much of my life leading up to the point where I had lost my job had been about following the typical trajectory and path that were set by others: graduate from high school, graduate from college, and get a job. I needed to do things differently, even if it required taking a few risks. The fear will always be there. Being a fearless person isn’t an option. It sounds absolutely crazy to me, but building the courage to take the leap is the best option I can take in order to do things that felt right to me.

I learned to value my joy during this process. Anything worthwhile is bound to shake you up. Building this discipline and not having it slip away is one of the great challenges that I’m faced with. I’m inspired to create this space for change for myself. It doesn’t matter what type of job I’m pursuing next, as long I do it fully knowing that I’m doing it for myself and not the approval of others. This is the freedom I’m finding as I’m moving forward.

Writer. mia@mia-nguyen

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