Steps to Grow into Who You Were Made to Be
As the doors closed behind me, I felt immense relief and sadness all in the same moment. It was final: I was unemployed. My health was now my full-time job.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed, emotions of fear and relief resurfaced. Between health complications and the sudden loss of my grandma, it was clear God had nudged me in the right direction…but it didn’t eliminate the question on my mind: what was next for me?
I wrangled with that question on an ongoing basis all the while feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. People innocently asked what was next; I didn’t have an answer. Stumbling through conversations, I began to question if God was listening as I sought after His purpose for me. I kept telling myself it would become clear, but that day felt distant.
Behind the scenes, God was working on my heart, helping me break free from lies I had believed for a lifetime.
It all led up to the day I realized: leaving my job allowed me to step away from who I believed I was and move toward who I was made to be.
“Hardworking.” “Focused.” “Ambitious.” “Perfectionist.”
Growing up, these words were used to describe me – both by myself and others.
In high school, I was voted most likely to become president. The votes were not cast my way because of any political aspirations; I was known as the girl who achieved.
This became a standard I had to live up to. I said yes to every opportunity that crossed my path: a multitude of clubs and organizations in high school, a business honors program in addition to the general honors program in college, a two-year post-graduate entrepreneurial fellowship, board positions, volunteer work, and on and on. These were excellent opportunities and I don’t regret a single one, but something critical was missing from each one: I didn’t say yes because I felt called to these opportunities. With my identity defined by achievement, I didn’t feel like I could say no.
When I left my job, the plan was to take time off work to prioritize my health. That happened, but what I truly gained was a break from my constant need to achieve.
Achievement in and of itself isn’t bad. My challenge was rooted in the fact that I continued on a trajectory of achievement because I thought it was expected of me. Floating from one opportunity to the next, I failed to ponder if that direction made use of the gifts I’d been given to steward.
Eventually, I realized it didn’t. This discovery didn’t happen overnight. I spent a year full of doubt and frustration, but God was at work the whole time. Even when it felt like it, my prayers weren’t left unanswered. God was nudging me in the right direction the whole time – it just happened in unexpected ways.
Solitude + Rest
I spent time doing nothing – no work, no activities (besides time with family and friends). I rested and restored from a place of depletion. Solitude and rest are undervalued in our society. Before I could contemplate what was next, I needed time to heal (physically + mentally), process, and be. No striving involved. Just rest and reflection. Near the end, I started to grow restless – a sign I was ready for another step.
Do What You Love for Fun
I am a dog person. If I could own one hundred, I would. While our house isn’t big enough for that, it is big enough for one or two extra: enter becoming a Rover sitter.
Dog sitting has become an outlet for me. I get to do something I love and earn a small income. My only caveat here is that you don’t have to earn an income – just pursue something you love with the goal of fun in mind. Becoming a Rover sitter allowed me to keep my health my number one priority, while reminding me of the importance of finding joy and purpose in what I spend my time on.
Try Something New
I was offered the opportunity to do some freelance work at the beginning of the year. The idea of it terrified me. Out of work for a few months I figured I would be rusty, but decided to say yes. This yes was an important one.
When I left my job, I was convinced I never wanted to write again. Turns out, that was the burn out talking. A break was the cure. I enjoyed the project and was eager to write more personally. I began praying what that should look like.
After 3+ months of seeking God to uncover the next step in my writing life, I received a clear answer in the form of Hope*Writers. (Read more about that journey.) My prayers were specific. Although they weren’t answered overnight, when the answer came, I was certain of it.
Eyes Open for Opportunities
A few months later, a former coworker emailed me about a job opening. With everything that had steadily fallen into place, I knew the right answer was no. For one, I wasn’t ready to head back into the workforce full time. Secondly, I had discovered the corporate world wasn’t the right fit in a full-time capacity. Instead of saying no, I offered to freelance. They said yes.
Working in a freelance capacity offers me freedom and flexibility as well as practice as I pursue a writing career. It’s a win-win I easily could have missed if I hadn’t kept my eyes open for the opportunity.
Although it happened in unexpected ways, God has helped me to step away from who I believed I was and move toward who I was made to be. Life will hardly ever go according to plan. Even so, I continue to be astounded as I see how God’s plans end up greater than my own.