Making changes in ones life can have pretty profound effects on your mental state. The stresses of looking for an option, weighing the choices, pursuing the decision..
All of that alone elevates the normal fight or flight response in most of us, but lately I've had that while continuing to work and manage the stresses of the day job and a family that sometimes needs more hand holding and support than I think I can always offer.
This week I had a pretty big awakening. I gave my notice with Ohio State three weeks ago. Were I just the average person I would have slowly and quietly stepped away from the work. I would have removed myself from decisions and management practices. I would have faded away.
I am not that sort of person. I looked back at the past few times I've made the decision to leave a job or place of employment, and aside from a few early jobs where I was a clerk or tech, once I became an adult I've always experienced personal conflict about leaving.
Leaving these places has always been the right move. The timing has not always been optimal and there was a time or two I damaged some relationships as I left, but overall I knew it was the right time to go.
It was the right time for me to leave my role at OSU as well. When I left the Marines to re-enter the real world, it was jarring. That was not just a job to me, that was who I was as a person. You don't just walk away from something that you've taken in so wholly as to allow it to redefine your life and way of thinking.
So, when I made the choice to leave, to step back and focus on school and family over corps and country I underwent a pretty deep crisis of identity. In the end it was the right time.
I left the rigid organization of the Marine Corps for the very different life of a public employee at a school district. I realized in the year I was there that there was no challenge I couldn't overcome. I was bolstered by the strength of my surviving the Corps and thriving within. A year later I had another opportunity to change fields and follow a passion. I transitioned from public school support to support of a daily newspaper.
The stories I could tell about that transition are many, but again I found a new path, a new power and focus that drove me for another seven years. I realized a life-long dream of being a writer and media personality. I went back to school. The Dispatch was a great opportunity for me.Near the end of my time, when the company began to experience the beginnings of the death of print media, I began to feel stifled and conflicted. Again, the time came and I moved on.
While I didn't jump straight into the job at OSU, it was the job I probably was meant to take at that point in time. I was offered a chance to define a job. I was the first person to ever hold my role at the university and over the last five years, based on the comments I've received on my way out, I did exactly what I needed to make that role successful.
Though tomorrow I start a new job, with a bit less of a safety net - nothing like working in a small business to wake you to the economic risks of being a breadwinner - I know it was the right time to make this change, or rather that was my epiphany.
I have to trust in the circumstances and my ability to take whatever challenges lie ahead and better them. I have to take that anxiety and fear of the unknown and use it to challenge myself. I need to redefine who Shawn is yet again, knowing that with each rebuild, with each recompilation of myself, I've grown into a better person.
My epiphany is, in the immortal words of Buckaroo Banzai - "No matter where you go, there you are." and wherever I may be, I'll only be there as long as I need to be.