A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.
Happy Monday! For those of you in the U.S., Happy Labor Day. The culture of the U.S. loves work. It is how we define ourselves. It is the first question we ask someone when we meet them. Our identities are tightly bound with our work. So what happens when you go against the grain?
My first existential crisis occurred at the age of 21. I was a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a prestigious university that prepares its students to serve as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard upon graduation. Not only are you earning your bachelor’s degree, you are also going through rigorous military training. As each year went on, I knew my heart wasn’t in it. I had learned a lot about myself during this time and the training in time-management and self-discipline was invaluable (though I was already a very self-motivated person before I attended.)
So how did I know it wasn’t working for me? I love learning and I love pushing myself to excel. In high school, I always got good grades while also participating in sports and clubs, holding down a job, and having a rich social life. At the Coast Guard Academy, I was getting by with a 2.0. I was on the Cross Country team, which I loved and where I excelled. I had strong friendships. The problem was I had no vision. I was pursuing a degree in Management, which was not that exciting to me. I had applied to take Spanish classes at the college across the street but was denied (I love, love, love the Spanish language, so this was another closed door to me there). To top it off, since I wasn’t at the head of the class, this meant I would get placed at a less-than-desirable post upon graduation. I would then have five more years of service before being able to resign. It felt like a long road to nowhere.
In spite of all the reasons it wasn’t working for me, the idea of resigning was terrifying. I would be letting my classmates down as well as not fulfilling my obligation to serve in the Coast Guard.
I reported back to the Academy in June of 1995 after a brief summer vacation. I was supposed to be reporting to a CG Cutter in Galveston for the rest of the summer before my senior year. I’m in the Academy main office on the phone with one of the officers in Galveston. I tell them I’m not coming, that I have decided to resign. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.
What ensued was several days of reporting to various people on base to acquire signatures, each one requiring me to tell them why I was resigning. The last person on my list was the highest ranking officer, the Commandant of Cadets. I was terrified.
Why have you decided to resign? (That question again.)
“My heart isn’t in it,” I replied.
He went on to scold me, letting me know my reason for resigning was ridiculous. When I walked out of his office, I burst out in tears. That conversation confirmed I had made the right decision. I didn’t want to keep waiting for it to get better (which is what I had been told since I first entered – ‘it’ll get better next year’). It hadn’t gotten better for me. I wasn’t thriving here and I knew I was meant to thrive. I was just in the wrong soil with inadequate fertilizer.
I am grateful I had the courage to listen to my soul, to speak up, to face my fears, and to claim my right to live my life my way.
Changes can be scary and many times we let uncertainty immobilize us. If your heart is yearning for more than what you are getting from your current life, that is your soul speaking, that is desire calling to you.
The life we dream of does exist. It does require some discomfort as we leave familiar territory. The thing is, not only will we survive there, we will also thrive there. Beyond what we even thought was possible.
Here’s to being brave, believing in your dreams, and taking steps each day to bring them into reality,
Routing for you,
If you’re ready to reclaim your zest for life, to shine with enthusiasm, to do work you love, and to live with purpose and passion, then it’s time to pull out your chutzpah! Sign up for a clarity call with me and let’s start getting your soul-aligned work into the world today.
Let’s do this!