How Did I Get Here!?

I have a friend from the gym, Melissa, who has been skipping out on our weekly class lately.  I wondered where she had been and her responses to text messages were rather vague.  I offered to listen if she needed anything and she never responded.  As I do when I know something is awry, I leave people be and till they are ready to surface.  Melissa eventually told me she left her place of employment, a  public relations company she joined as a start up.  As a result of a series of events, she left her 10 years of hard work and her title of vice president behind. Melissa came to class tonight (hooray!) and when she began to tell me what happened and how sad she was about the turn of events. My initial feedback was, “Wow it sounds like a really bad break up.”  She looked at with me with surprised, huge eyes and said, “It feels like a bad divorce!  People I thought were my friends turned against me and I did nothing wrong.  I chose to leave my job and now my friends from work will not speak to me.”  Though my work related experiences have been different, I could empathize with how Melissa must be feeling.  She dedicated 10 years and countless hours to the success of her company and developed friendships with people who ended up being completely unreliable in a time of turbulence.  Without a doubt, when the people you care about and the people you trust let you down or turn their backs on you, it is hurtful.   The only thing I could say was she could count on me to be her friend and if someone turned their back on her, that person was likely never truly a loyal friend.  I suppose I may sound like Pollyanna, however, I have had enough situations in life when my friends have shown me they will be there for me regardless of what is happening in their lives and mine.  It reminded me how important it is to pick your team or to pick your “people” wisely.  Who has your back?

Melissa’s situation also reminded me leaving one’s comfort zone can be quite uncomfortable and disconcerting.  For Melissa, she never expected to leave her job this way and certainly never expected to leave her job at this point in her life.  One day she was doing something she enjoyed, weird politics began to surface and the next thing she knew she was sitting home wondering what happened to everything she built from a career standpoint.  It is as if she was sailing on a ship with her friends, dumped overboard and as the ship sailed away, no one looked back or bothered to throw her a life preserver.  She was left her floating in the middle of the ocean, alone.    As I spoke Melissa tonight, I realized she had been stunned by the change that is upon her.  She is slowly beginning to recuperate from the disappointment and the sadness she is feeling;  however, when I asked her what she has been doing, she informed me very little.   I wanted  to ask Melissa what she would like to do next.  I could see she is still treading water and needs time before she is ready to decide if she will swim, call for help, or ride a wave.  I told her about my friend Erin, whom Melissa knows from the gym, and Erin’s very similar circumstances at her last job.  Erin encountered some messy politics and after many uncomfortable situations made a difficult choice to submit her resignation from the corporation at which she worked for many years.  Melissa was really surprised by this news as she had no idea Erin was in the same line of work (coincidentally) and had been through a similar experience.  I informed her Erin ended up doing freelance work and by way of her freelance opportunities secured a new full time job.  We discussed a little more and I could see the wheels turning in Melissa’s head.  Why did I share someone else’s story? 1. I know Erin would be ok with it and I am hoping all 3 of us can get together soon so Melissa can see people she knows can empathize and relate to her situation. 2. I wanted to give an indirect suggestion to what direction Melissa could take. 3. I believe it helps to know you are not alone when you are feeling sad or lousy or confused about a situation in life.  When you leave your comfort zone and feel you are treading water, by talking to others, most likely you will find someone will swim over and offer you a life raft to let you know you are not alone.  Everyone needs a dose of compassion and empathy now and then whether they realize it or not.  Sometimes when you least a expect it, people you know can be more supportive and helpful than you previously considered.

Life just takes turns and open and closes door – sometimes you are ready and you are left wondering what to do next.    It takes time to figure things out when you are thrown totally off course unexpectedly.  I like to think once a person gets their bearings after being thrown into the ocean of life, new ideas come about, confidence evolves and something positive can come from what was an unpleasant experience.    I will be interested to see what Melissa does next.  What has she learned that she can carry forward and what can she leave behind?  Every experience teaches us something, if we chose to identify the lesson.  Whether we leave our comfort zone or get abruptly shoved out of our comfort zone, things always manage to work out, if up to the task.  Ask for help, build your plan, talk to people, do whatever works for you.  After the waters become clearer, I would guess most people eventually look back and say, “I never imagined I would have ended up here.”

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