As you saw from My Not So Simple Confession, I’ve decided to change gears in my life a little bit, for now.
I’ve allowed for myself to switch directions a bit. And I’ve given myself the freedom to go back.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and it certainly wasn’t the hardest time I’ve done this.
Switching directions, without getting mad at myself is incredibly freeing.
It also helps me to see myself for myself. I’m not a gardener, or a writer, or a runner. I am a person who does those things. When I stop doing one of those things, I’m still me.
The me-ness of me hasn’t changed.
The most difficult change I ever made in my life was quitting grad school.
I had dreamed of getting my PhD and teaching on the college level. I dreamed of being called “Doctor Reeder”. These were all labels that I held dearly to my identity.
But when I got to graduate school in Iowa, I was miserable and I was lonely. I had no friends, and the study of economics was getting boring to me. And getting your PhD is an insanely intense pursuit.
If I quit, it seemed I had failed. I had nothing to go back to. But I was miserable in Iowa.
I traveled back to Pennsylvania from Iowa for my Christmas break and had a lovely time. While on break, I agonized about what to do, with no clear answer.
I went to a party at my friend’s parents’ house. While there, I talk to my friend’s mom, and told her I was thinking about quitting grad school and coming home.
I was expecting disappointment, judgement, or overall let down. But do you know what I got?
I got a huge hug. She said to me, “Oh, Julia, we would love to have you home!”.
That’s what I needed to hear. No one cared about my degree. No one that mattered anyway. I would still be me, even if I gave up one of the biggest defining parts of my life.
Her love gave me the courage to move forward and do what I needed to do in order to be happy.
I was able to move on.
This lesson has allowed me to move through other parts of my life more seamlessly.
Continuing to do something or be in a relationship just because it defines you can be comfortable, but it’s also soul crushing and heavy. Moving on from that soul crushing project or job or relationship can be difficult and terrifying, but so freeing.
And the more freedom you give yourself to move on, the more freedom you allow yourself to become the best version of yourself. And that seems to make other transitions easier.