So, the end of the year is upon us... upon me. And naively, I've decided to opt for the cliche of a fresh start.
The last couple of years have been kind of rough, something I've only generally alluded to, in passing, when I've had time to write. Baring my soul, my personal difficulties, sharing deep feelings.. these things are, oddly (I suppose), not why I write. It stems, I've said before, from my training as a writer, which is to avoid a lot of "I" or "me," try to stand apart from your subjects, make your observations based on concrete assessments, rather than feelings. Then too, there's my upbringing, which I tend to think of as pretty traditional, Western European values. In this age of oversharing, I like standing for old fashioned notions about not putting one's business out on the street, or using a format like a blog to settle personal scores.
But still, this has been a rough year. And I resolved, as part of making a fresh start, to try and unpack and expalin some (at least) of what happened and why, or at least my take on the why of it.
For me, a lot of the upheaval took place as I committed myself, with some trepidation, to pursuing an upward career path at Starbucks. I am, by nature, ambitious and somewhat driven - which is odd, as a Pisces and I think odd to people who don't know me well - and I like to feel I am headed toward a goal, not just languishing. I can, and I will, say that my ambition in a corporate setting varies, and a good bit of my enthusiasm may not so much have been mine as that of others, especially my logtime manager, who I consider a mentor and friend. I'm not so sure, ever that I wanted to be in management quite as much as she wanted it for me.
Still, I made a commitment and I did my best to see it through. And in doing so, I settled on some compromises: obviously, I would have to write less. My hours at work increased, as did my responsibilities, and (again, being ambitious) I know the politics of getting ahead - appear enthusiastic, volunteer, do extra, come early and stay late. And, sincerely, I was enthusiastic. I made the commitment, and I gave the extra time, quite willingly.
My single minded focus also meant some trade-offs socially and interpersonally; less time with friends, less direct contact, less free time. I saw fewer movies. Friends who were more distant, physically or emotionally (or both) became more distant still. I lost touch with people, and in some sense, I'm sure I lost patience - with others, with politics, with myself. Cut to the chase, make a point. Have a point. Don't waste my time.
On paper, things went well for the career plan - I was promoted, I grew and developed in many ways. I became a better manager of people, better able to supervise, and retain my sensitivity. I mastered many things I didn't think possible, and reoriented my thinking and expectations for myself and others day to day at work. There are a lot of positives to see over this experience, and they are the reasons I don't regret my choices. What I did was necessary, and the positive changes were worth a lot of the pain. Just not all of the pain.
For me, the unfortunate turn with my promotion was being thrown into a new, unfamiliar setting, one which, I quickly came to realize was simply "not a good fit for me." It's an oblique, politically correct phrase, I know, but I like its precise imprecision. It wasn't one thing, one person, one event. It was, simply, the totality of things - a bad commute, bad group dynamics, difficult working relationships, no sense of personal connection, no feeling of being "a part of" a new team. All the things that I loved about my job - the camaraderie, the shared sense of accomplishments, the joy of it - all of it seemed to vanish. I dreaded going. I missed people. I felt like I was losing my friends, and a sense of myself.
And, truthfully, I missed writing. I missed critical writing most, the reviews of films, and TV and arts and the culture. But I missed the daily exercise of it, the sense I had while blogging near daily that my writing was strong and growing. I write most (and best) because I love the shaping of ideas with words. Without that... I have very little.
So I made a choice - not without some consultation and guidance - and decided, as they say, to "step back." Decisions like that, I must say, are remarkably freeing, because they are seen by so many as so unconventional. One of the happiest immediate results I got was a sense of being able to speak for myself, choose for myself, listen to my own inner voice. Few people understand life choices that don't, first, have to do with getting more - more money, more power, more stuff. That's never been my equation, for better and worse. I like to start by figuring out what makes one happy, and working out form there. More happiness, more peace of mind... amazing things can flow when these are in place.
Change is hard, and uncomfortable. I cannot just "go back to how things were." Things are different now, trying to restart this blog is hard, harder than it was before. Resuming regular writing doesn't just happen. It, too, is work. I still have connetcions to build and rebuild, a support system to strengthen and reset. Some of my closest relationships have been entirely (and even irrepairably) changed, and as sad as that was, I still tend to think it necessary and, in some sense, inevitable. We grow, we change, we grow apart. I have come to see that the strongest friendships, the strongest personal bonds aren't about how we stay the same; it's how people adapt to changes in one another. The more flexible, the more opions exist as a result. And then too, I've learned that it's okay to say goodbye to relationships that just don't give you the things you need. What made sense once, at one point in time, may not make sense anymore. And that's okay.
Of course... I'm generalizing, taking myself out of it, trying not to get too personal, too wound up in the feelings or the specific personalities. That's me, what I say and how I say it. I don't regret the past couple of years, but as I thought about it, as I started on a "fresh start," I liked the idea of ending an "errand into the maze". I chased down a lot of blind alleys, tried to work out a set of puzzles, ran myself ragged at times... and now, I'm pretty much letting that errand, and that maze, go. Time to move on, move forward, do more of what I love and make more time for my truer passions. And we'll see what develops. That's the story I'm planning to tell, anyway.