Last Friday I left my job. Two days later I left my home. To be cliché, saying goodbye is never easy. Whether we are leaving our current positions, location, or both, the decision to press on can be a tough one.
We get attached to our identities. Who we are – or who we think we are – is often a collection of our achievements, connections, job, location, and how we self identify. The status and totality of the paths we have carved out for ourselves can define us and put us on paths for growth and achievement, or it can take us further away from our true life passions. Ultimately, we need to be the ones deciding what our pursuit of happiness looks like and how best to live out that intention.
Knowing that those close to us support and believe in us is invaluable. There was a time when I felt alone and insecure in this decision. I feared that if I crossed the line people would negatively judge me. I imagined questions and comments such as:
“Why don’t you give your current job more time? You’ve worked so hard to get where you are. Are you certain you want to give all of this up? Do you really think you can support yourself? You know most startups fail. Well that’s a silly idea.”
The truth is that as people get to know us, we fit a certain identity and place in their lives and likewise them in ours. By switching things up, we fundamentally break the mold for how people perceive us, and the interactions by which they connect with us.
No sooner than turning this corner and sharing my plan with others did I receive those feared comments and questions from above. They stung and made me question the direction in which I was heading. Despite receiving such this feedback, I developed more confidence in myself. That confidence has given me the strength to believe in this next step, even without knowing how everything would turn out.
Encountering criticism and skepticism should be expected. The question we need to ask is “How will we choose to respond it if we make a big life decision?” Will we have trouble looking ourselves in the mirror? Or will we be emboldened in our new life course?
What we may find is that the naysayers will turn out to be interested followers; that they will want to learn more about what it is to be close with someone that is following their dreams; that they will be supportive and willing to help in any way they can. We may find this type of respect and admiration in the place where we least expected it.
While leaving Chicago and management consulting were two stark moves, a celebration was in order for good measure! This past weekend I had a farewell party with close friends that I had forged during my time in the Midwest. Guests ranged from university friends, colleagues, and those inspiring people I met along the way. The turnout, energy, and support that I received were incredibly heartwarming and encouraging!
While I may have said goodbye to one place and time, life could bring me back to where this journey began. Even still, I have not said goodbye once and for all to the friendships and connections that I have forged along the way. Those will remain. So whether we uproot ourselves to embark on a new life path or take this step in our current home, we should be able to gain energy and respect from those close to us and believe in ourselves as we take this next step.