Surrender. This term beleaguers the weak-willed and strongly defines the hard stop at the end of a warrior’s battle. Warriors are strong, and we know in war and in life they all have a moment when they simply cannot move at a forward pace any longer. When we surrender, we may close a door behind us but we freely step into a scary unknown and beautiful world of endless possibilities to take our next steps.
My past 22 years have been spent in a singular profession built of countless specialties or the opportunity to become a generalist. Having touched almost all the focal points becoming a jack of all trades and a master of only some, I am confident that the path I chose two long decades ago was the right one. I grew personally and professionally, started a family, and spent not a moment regretting my life choice. Of course there were those minutes spent on weekends perusing new job opportunities within the profession, but few ever seemed to stoke the internal fires enough to make a leap. I am a passionate person and without passion to jump, I felt a little stuck.
During a pivotal professional moment, I determined that I was no longer interested in what had once been exciting but now were mundane yet necessary tasks that became standard fare in my work. In a large governmental organization, I didn’t expect wild celebrations and kudos and appreciative back-slaps, but when they didn’t come following some key professional achievements, I realized just how much of my heart and soul I poured into my work without realizing how much I had given up. I became entrenched in the organizations goals, I represented and fought for the right choices whenever I could. I was the consummate servant-leader but I’d lost myself in the process. So, I quit. I surrendered to the unknown.
The next step for me was and still is unclear. Supported by my family and knowing they are my main project all of the time, I didn’t leap forward into another job but I provided my employer with generous notice to prepare for my departure. Oh, there were appeals for my return, reinforcing messages to tell me how important I was. My quitting became the format through which people felt comfortable sharing their positive opinions of my work and person. It also became an action curiously questioned by colleagues in disbelief and oft admiration that I would simply leave without another place to set my stage. It was shocking to most people and the words they used to describe my decision all but reinforced it – I was a stalwart, staple, fixture, institution. I knew then I had to leave as that was never my goal.
So much like a eulogy, it’s only when you’re effectively dead and gone do people speak of your worth and value to them or to the organization. The only difference here was that I was not, in fact, dead. I was very much alive and freed of burdens that plagued me over the last years, and to think forward with openness and a less direct path might have been scary, but was enticingly invigorating. I rode that natural high for my last month and beyond into a month long coincidentally planned hiatus abroad and fell into the business of getting my teenagers ready for their new school year.
Surrendering now to each and every day is my objective. It’s a beautiful, sometimes scary, and sometimes depressing objective but allows me time to shed the coat of my old life in favor of new experiences and more time to spend on things I enjoy doing. I am finding this is the hardest part, as my interests were effectively suppressed for lack of time and the incessant reminder of my professional duties that kept me from finding my own space.
I am here now. I have surrendered to the beautiful unknown, struck daily by realities of life that keep me grounded, supported, and loved. It is my surrender.