…The one that I’ve been thinking about writing for a month and today’s the day…this is, admittedly, very long winded.
Today is my last full day in Oklahoma City.
It’s my last full day in OKC and my last day in Consulting. <– That last piece of information? That’s HUGE.
Let’s say that one again.
MY LAST DAY IN CONSULTING. That is big, people. Big.
This is a change that I’ve been wanting for awhile now.
I’ve been doing my job for 10 years.
I’ve done well.
I’ve learned A TON.
I’ve met incredible people.
I’ve been challenged, I’ve been supported and encouraged, I’ve been forced to handle some difficult situations and I’ve been promoted several times…
I’ve been happy with every bit of my job (for real) except the travel and in the last couple of years the traveling every week for work started to impact my well-being.
I started to realize that I wasn’t prioritizing my personal life, that I wasn’t putting me or my family first… that work always took priority because I had to get on a plane every Monday…It made me really really cranky. It made me resentful. I don’t like that feeling.
About a year and a half ago, I started getting anxious every time I had to get on a plane.
It scared me.
I thought that something was wrong.
And then, after a lot of tests, “nothing” was wrong.
I was happy about that, of course I was. But I was also really disappointed. What do you mean that my stomachaches and constant nausea aren’t because I am sick?
I had a bit of a mind shift when I realized that something was wrong, it just wouldn’t show up on an x-ray or lab test. I had to figure out what it was.
I started talking to people.
Really talking. Really talking and really being honest.
Honesty was the hardest part because it meant admitting to myself that I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing and maintain my sanity or my personal relationships in a way that was important to me.
It meant that I couldn’t just complain anymore. If I was going to talk and be honest, I might also have to do something about my feelings.
Someone that I trust (and someone with the authority to say so) had the courage to tell me that what I was disclosing were signs that I was stressed and had anxiety AND THAT IT WAS OK TO FEEL THE WAY I WAS FEELING. THAT IT DIDN’T MAKE ME WEAK to not want to travel anymore. That it would TAKE TIME to heal but I had to be willing to accept the need for change.
Accepting the need for change was the hardest part.
Ironic given my Change Management background.
I’m strong, I can do anything… I’ll prove it…
Around the time that I was feeling like I knew what I needed, was starting to feel a bit more balanced and like I had my shit together, I was asked to start traveling again. (I took a local Chicago based role for a short time between traveling assignments – hence the feeling back on track a bit.)
When I was told that my next role would be in OKC, I cried. I literally hung up the phone and cried in the middle of Michigan Avenue (class act for sure).
I called my brother because it was the middle of the day, I knew he’d answer and he usually has pretty stellar advice.
Here’s the gist of our conversation:
M: Hi. (sniffle)
A: Hi, what’s wrong?
M: I just found out that I was confirmed at the role in OKC.
A: Are you f&%*ing kidding?
M: I wish. (insert sobbing)
A: Well, you go there, you do what you need to do and you work like hell to find another job. It’s actually not that bad there. I think I’ve been there.
M: I want to quit. (more tears)
A: You probably can’t do that – not the best move.
M: But I hate everything. I can’t get on another plane. I hate my life. I’m miserable.
A: I get it, but just go there and spend every night looking for a new job. Make it a priority.
A: Seriously, Mara. I’ll help you find a new job.
A: J, me, Cris… we’re in your corner… you’ll figure this out. It won’t be that bad.
A: F*&%ing sucks but you’ll figure it out. How long will you be there?
M: 4-5 months.
A: Ok, that’s nothing. In less than 6 months you’ll have a new job. I’ll talk to people I know… you’ll find something.
A: Are you still crying in the middle of the street?
Adam’s advice helped me get on the plane my first day here.
It was never the city or the project that I was upset about… it was the physical act of leaving – I was unhappy and I couldn’t believe that I was doing it again. Starting over, doing the right thing even though my heart wasn’t in it.
Anyway, long story short, I applied for and interviewed with several external positions but nothing felt right.
And then something fell in my lap.
I mean literally, bam. Fell in my lap.
It was a long shot.
But I applied.
And I interviewed.
And I waited for what seemed like an eternity.
And then I got an email that made me nervous.
And then I got a follow-up email that made me less nervous (like I was jumping for joy in the kitchen).
And then the next day I got an official call.
I GOT THE JOB.
It’s the best of both worlds.
I’m staying with an organization that I have been proud to work for and taking a position that I feel passionate about… all of that AND I am taking care of myself.
I talked, I was honest, people all around me listened.
I wasn’t a crybaby (after the talk with Adam and a few discussions with J), I was just me – the heart on my sleeve, lay it all out there with no fear of repercussions version.
It turns out that when you really talk, people really listen. People want to be supportive and use their networks to help you.
I wasn’t shocked, but I wasn’t expecting it either…
I start my new job on Tuesday.
I’ll be WORKING FROM HOME and/or downtown.
I might travel a little bit here and there, but it will be nothing like what I have been doing.
I’ve heard that the position that I’ve accepted will be harder than others I’ve held and that’s ok. That’s exciting. I am not afraid of a challenge that let’s me balance my work and my personal life.
I casually talk to my friends about getting into a groove and regularly meeting for a boxing class during the week or meeting in the office for lunch on a Tuesday because I can. It still feels a little surreal and I am sure that I’ll have some new adjustments to consider… but really, I just feel so incredibly lucky. Opportunities like this don’t come around often. At least not where I work. This is awesome.
So tonight is my last night in OKC.
My consulting days are coming to a close.
There are some things about this that are bittersweet, but I’m ready for a new challenge. I’m ready for change.
If you’ve been taking this journey with me up close or from afar – thank you for sticking with me. I know that I’ve had some bratty and not so bratty moments… your support means the world to me. J, A, C, AB, K, Mom and Dad…. thank you for your encouragement. I took some risks because of our conversations and I can’t ever thank you enough for that.
Here’s to a new book full of unwritten chapters.