Odd Bird Out
The Adventure That Saved Me
Updated: Apr 19
It was a year ago that I made one of the most important and difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I had to jump without knowing where I was going to land; I had to put my heart and mental health before my fear and comfortable grasp of security; I had to believe in myself. Seems easy enough - until you have to do it for real.
I was at a place in my life where 40 was creeping ever so uncomfortably close and I felt lost, stuck, insignificant even. I was putzing along at a job that I never had a real passion for, but because of undiagnosed severe ADHD and an over-active shoulder demon aka imposter syndrome, I convinced myself that I couldn’t do better, that I wasn’t worth more. I have also had an unhealthy relationship with the idea of security for most of my life - always tending to take the safe path, especially if it was for the overall good of my children and family. Even if that path was slowly bleeding me dry - I felt I had a duty and it was never to my own happiness. And over those 5 years, I felt myself creatively and emotionally dissipate and detach.
I recall sitting in my reading nook one evening, listening to music, having an old fashioned and just…crying. It felt like a slow, enormous and crushing wave hitting me all at once. If my heart could have clawed from its cage and smacked me in the face, I’m certain it would have in that moment. What was I doing?! Why was I doing things I hated? Is this what I wanted my kids to learn? All wretch and no vomit? Is this what I had become? - A woman too afraid to live? To want more? To take a chance on herself? I was altogether sad and disgusted with myself. I knew better! This was not me. My husband saw this unfold, begging me find a better fit, find my passion again and that he would support me no matter my decision. Constantly encouraging me, loving me, helping me put the pieces back together.
It was in that moment that I decided to I had to get away from my disillusioned comfort and environment—alone, and do some deep and really uncomfortable soul searching. I had to figure out what the hell I wanted because I surely couldn’t do this anymore!
So, I booked a trip to Oregon. I didn’t know anyone there. Had never been. Just picked nearly the furthest places from home while staying stateside, to get lost…and maybe, hopefully, find myself again.
I know I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. I took my trip to Oregon- I hiked, got lost, breathed clean air I think for the first time in my life, sat in silence, explored, wrote, and eventually I broke down at the foot of Wahclella Falls - feeling so small and yet so connected, so purposeful. The sun warmed and comforted me while the waterfall rumbled under my feet, mirroring the power and turmoil in my head and heart. I’m generally not a crier, but here, in this moment- I let go. Giving freely of my tears like tiny sacrifices to the whirling pool below. After some time I was able to breathe, deep and slow, the way we’re all supposed to. The way we forget to when we hurt and breathing is not biological but rather cautionary. My time spent there was a ceremonious baptism of sorts, because when I hiked out of that gorge, I was not the same woman.
I think that trip saved me. I’m almost certain.
I came home and drafted my resignation the next day. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared, proud of myself, or sure of anything.
So how did it all pan out, you ask? Well, I took some time for myself, about a month or so. Had to deal with some work related trauma in therapy. I didn’t know that was even a thing! My therapist assured me that my experience was not healthy or normal and had reshaped the way I saw myself and others. That hurt. But we’re still working through all the messy bits, so I’m hopeful I can course correct.
Then I got a part time job as a pharmacy technician. It’s a job like nothing I’ve ever done before and it feeds a part of my brain that I didn’t know I needed - the black and white of it all, the routine, the counting of pills and organizing bottles - kinda makes my brain tingle (this might be another ADHD thing… I’m not sure, but I like it). Plus I work with some really amazing women who have become my friends - win, win. I became state certified and am working toward my national certificate as well, because why not?
All the while, I looked for a full time job within my industry. This time however, I wanted more! I wanted to do work that mattered. I wanted to be a part of something bigger! After 8 months of hunting and interviews, I found my place. I got a job as an Art Director for a company specializing in non-profit and humanitarian work. They value me, my experiences and opinion. They do work I believe in. I am so fortunate to be part of a team that is making an impact around the world.
So, it kinda all fell into place I’d say. I guess the moral of this story is, take a deep breath and then take that leap! It won’t be easy, yes-it will be super scary, but you got this! Deep down, you know you do. If you are struggling, stagnant, or lost, I have one very important piece of advice for you - remove yourself from your current environment. Going alone and somewhere you’ve never been or experienced offers invaluable perspective that I truly don’t think you can get any other way.
In the words of Jack Garratt - “you might surprise yourself”.