Yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, I made this observation:
Do you know, I haven’t felt this free in ages! I really do have a new beginning.
I elaborated this morning:
The thing is, I didn’t know I was trapped until I wasn’t, if that makes any sense. Now I just see all kinds of possibility.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this.
First, I want to thank all of my friends, and all of the wonderful people who have been so supportive during this change in my life. Truly, I am blessed, and I won’t ever forget that.
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. I really out of nowhere had this epiphany last night. It’s not anything I’d ever thought of in that way before, but it all emerged over the next bunch of hours, starting with the feeling I mentioned of freedom and lightness. It was amazing, and it was something I haven’t felt in a long time, if ever. I could be anything, I could do anything, I had no chains or walls to bind me.
And that was odd, because I never thought I had any chains or walls before.
I never knew I had them until I didn’t have them anymore.
That realization hit me like the very cliche ton of bricks. How could I not have seen the walls that imprisoned me, especially when I built them all by myself?
I’ve always thought of myself as a technology guy. It was what I did. I’d always done it. I’d always do it. Even during the times that I was doing things like manning the phone and opening the back door for the nurses who went to pollute their lungs at the VA (irony, no?), I still thought of myself as someone who worked in technology, and it really is what I’ve done most of my adult life. But even when I didn’t, it’s how I thought of myself.
Some people say it’s a guy thing, that guys have their identities all tied up in their work. Who are you?, someone might ask, and who I was invariably had something to do with what I did. I don’t know, and don’t care to argue, whether this is an especially male outlook. But it was mine, for good or ill.
And then, gradually, I started to become restless with my identity. And one fine day, I thought to myself, “You know, you’ve spent your entire adult life, for all intents and purposes, doing stuff with technology. With computers. With machines in some way. And how do you feel about that?”
I was tired of it. I was drained. I was burned out on it. More and more, the work that I had basically devoted my life to became less satisfying. I began more quickly losing patience with the griping and the complaining and the bugs and the “We should have this” and the “It should do that”.
So what was I going to do about it?
I was going to do something else, that’s what. In the back of my mind was a notion developing that I’d really like to work with animals. I’d like to train dogs. I’d like to work closely with animals, and less closely with computers that were possessed by demons. So I started to make a plan. The plan started to come together.
Then, the plan got a kick in the ass.
Ready or not, with one thing and another, I left my tech support duties at Serotek. This was a relief in some ways, and really scary in a lot of others. But one thing it did was showed me a world of opportunity.
That evening, as I thought, “What are you going to do with yourself now?”, Melanie suggested that I call our vet to see if they needed any volunteer help. What a brilliant idea!
I’d thought about checking the shelters. But before I started my plan, I can guarantee you that it wouldn’t have crossed my mind.
Somehow, amidst all of the confusion, and relief, and dread, and “OMG what have you done?”, and “Smartest thing you’ve ever done”, and all the other things, I cast off my identity as “a tech guy”.
And saw that the only person who meant anything that was putting me in that box was me, myself. Oh sure. Some people thought of me that way, and maybe that reinforced the idea, but I’m the only one who can decide who or what I am. And I had put myself in that box. No one did it for me. All I had to do was to take myself out of the box I had slowly, even unwittingly, put myself into.
Who I am doesn’t have to be tied up in what I do. What I do is just a thing I do. It may be a thing I do passionately, or with gusto, or routinely, but what I do is not, after all, who I am. I can be anything I want, but always, always, I am myself. Not the tech support guy. Not the computer guy. Not the animal guy even. Those are things I do. Those things can change. Being just myself, without the labels or definitions, leaves the world open in front of me. Just being myself means I can redefine my role as much as I want to. Still me under there.
This isn’t coming out the way I see it in my head. Doesn’t matter much though. My point is, I can be, or do, anything I want. And so can you. You know how people talk about getting out of your own way? Yeah, doing that. Allowing yourself out of the walls you’ve built for yourself.
Anyway, I’ve got a long ways to go on this journey. I’ve always heard that people go to find themselves a lot earlier than this. Guess I’m getting a late start, but I’m at least getting a start, anyway.
The best is yet to come.