So I spoke with Colleen over the phone a few days ago in our initial conversation about starting a business together. It went really well and I am super excited. I think we both have very similar ideas on how we want our business to work and so far she is a great business partner with a similar level of detail and attention to the work we are putting in together. I am really happy that I asked her to partner.
At the end of our conversation about the business, we just started talking about ourselves and how stuff is going. I love her optimism and general happiness about everything. It is one of the things that really drew me to her. She mentioned something that really resonated with me. She was saying that after only two years of working at pwc, she just didn’t feel like herself anymore. And it took almost a whole year longer to feel like herself again.
I could totally relate. That wasn’t among the sentiments I had repeatedly expressed to people (like so many other job-related things that I repeatedly whined about). But it was a sense of feeling out of sorts and putting on a different persona at work. I know I can’t always dress in my college clothes and be a bum. But there is some middle ground, which I didn’t think my life at my last job was really amenable to. I keep thinking back to various situations: feeling envious of my clients in Miami who could comfortably be themselves at work, feeling like I was in a dark tunnel in St. Louis, feeling like I would never want a job like the ones my clients had on Long Island, the sense of dread I felt on a daily basis at Yale and how much I hated that role and being in New Haven as a consultant. I just didn’t feel like myself in any of those situations.
I have to agree with Colleen that it has taken me a long time to come back to me. I finally shed the persona of the knowledgeable consultant having to act like I know everything in order to justify our high rates or having to prove myself to peers. I can pursue things that are important to me now. I can venture to India to start this business and not have to dress in a suit or do “professional speak” to impress people.
Sure, parts of it are valuable – like knowing how to plan and run projects, how to make presentations, and how the corporate world works in general. But I don’t know how people do this their whole life. I really don’t. Yesterday I was describing to a friend how in looking back at my job, I feel like it was this controlling relationship. The company kept trying to make me happy with money and a semblance of the things I wanted (staying local), but it wasn’t enough to keep me in the relationship. And now that I have left, I feel like I am flying. I was so worried about what others would think of my new business idea and how hoaky it is. But that fear is slowly fading. I have started to post more on Facebook, which I think is fun. I have opened up my blog to the public (though haven’t advertised it), which is huge for me. These little steps are big ones for me.
I didn’t realize that after leaving I would uncover so many layers of myself and of my relationship with my former job. It was only leaving that could have done this for me. The longer I suffered in that job, the longer the real me would stay suppressed and hidden away. And I felt like I had to have all the answers when I resigned and I didn’t. Looking back now, there is no way I could have had the answers. Just the mere act of being away has given me the space to find the answers. I knew they were there all along, but it took me time to uncover them.