The ceiling had to literally fall in on me before I woke up.
One year ago, I sold my company, Career Systems International, which had been my identity for more than 40 years. I had naively looked forward to new opportunities and new adventures.
I had no idea how adrift I would feel and how deeply I would suffer the loss of what had been the core of my creative and professional life for so many years. I quickly missed so many of the aspects of running a business that I created from scratch with my ideas born all the way back in graduate school.
I tried to tell myself that there was much about running a company that I should be happy to let go of. I have always loved the career development field and am very proud of the accomplishments I have contributed but I never really felt like being the CEO of a company. I never thought that carrying all the responsibilities that entails on my shoulders was truly something in my wheelhouse. I should have been happy to let that aspect of my life go but I just wasn’t.
The truth is I didn't know who I would be without being the leader of Career Systems International. My Entity was my Identity.
I am always moved by courageous people who speak out about the tough times in their lives. I so appreciate when a well-known person admits that things aren't always as rosy as they appear on the surface.
And yet I could not do this myself. I didn't want people in my field to know what a tough time I was going through. I wanted to put on a brave face and show that I was just fine with the changes in my life when that wasn't true at all. I didn't know how to redefine my life and to give it meaning once again. And for the past year, I have suffered from anxiety and even depression, constantly looking for a window that would open and breathe air into my new life.
I started to feel that there was nothing that would pull me out of this negative place I'd fallen into. I was running out of things to try. Even a wonderful trip to Spain with my dear husband Barry could not shake the gloom.
But given that life is full of unexpected ironies, when I returned home from Europe what I thought was a disaster turned out to be the turning point in my life.
In my absence on vacation, the ceiling had literally fallen through from the upper floor into my office due to a plumbing problem and destroyed everything. And I do mean everything!
I had to toss out books I had gathered for over 40 years. And so many papers that were the trappings of the past business that I felt nostalgic about. I was overwhelmed with the loss and how much could never be saved. And then I had an epiphany. I did not need to hold on to those books to hold onto the concepts inside of them. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. I didn't have to go through every piece of paper. It was gone in an instant and I felt free to let it go.
Now I'm so relieved to say I'm beginning my life anew. It is true when one door closes another opens you just have to have faith and keep your mind open to possibilities and new learning.
As I begin 2019, I now feel free of my anxiety and depression. My curiosity and creativity have both returned and I'm ready for what lies ahead. Change is scary but when you accept its inevitability, you can move on and find an even more exciting future.
Looking back on this year I think that it taught me a great deal about what others go through when confronted with change. This experience has made me stronger and in the long run happier, more compassionate and open to sharing what I have learned with others.
I know I will always be driven to make a contribution, to have purpose in my life and to share my journey with other professionals. My identity was not really the entity after all.