This resumes where Part 1 left off. I encourage everyone to read both parts for the sake of continuity.
I found a job as a coach with a stop smoking tobacco program and left my position in the marijuana industry. Training for this position began at the beginning of March. This job seemed like an adequate fit while I worked on my next move and I would have a chance to work with people in a helping capacity. Those of you with good memories for timelines probably know what’s coming next. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the parameters for this job changed quickly. The funding for this program was diverted to COVID-19 resources and the training team for new coaches was also diverted elsewhere. Essentially I was now a customer service rep rather than a coach due to program diversions and funding shortages. This was also a poor fit for me as I typically do not have the patience for customer service. I will give the company credit for keeping us on as long as they could, however. I kept this job until I was laid off at the beginning of May. I honestly did not mind getting laid off. There will be a postscript to this specific situation later.
Around this time I had been on the transitions roller coaster for about two years. I had come to the conclusion I was not going to be truly happy until I was working for myself. This conclusion was echoed by several people who knew me well. I had never done anything like starting my own business but I suddenly had free time to design and create literally whatever I wanted. I think we are raised to fear stillness and quiet because we are not striving, achieving, etc. We are conditioned to believe that external noise is a sign of productivity. This actually keeps us from listening for what we need for ourselves. Truth be told, there is no great time to start your own business, most people just decide to do it. After toying with this idea for a bit, I moved forward by building my own website.
This forced me to detail what kind of clients I wanted to work with and to formulate how I intended to help others with my skills and message. I had reached the point in my transition where I no longer wanted to spend my hours doing someone else’s thing. Doing someone else’s thing did not make the hours and aggravation worth it. I will gladly put up with challenges and aggravation if it is for my cause. Toiling for someone else is not worth it to me anymore. I’m not against talking a part time gig to keep things going, but my emphasis is on short term.
Getting laid off seemed like a clear cut message to begin working on my own business. A huge challenge for me was setting up my own structure and prioritizing what to do week to week. My website became a home base to work from. I can always direct a potential client to my website. Here is what I am doing. That feels fantastic to me. I can emphatically state I am not the same person I was when this transition started. I have a foundation and a direction and I know I will thrive. Where I have trouble is when I’m directionless. Now I have a new career to build, new things to learn, new goals to create for myself. If I am doing this anyone can. I am not special in any way other than commitment and consistency. I coach because I want others to experience this feeling.
Building my website was challenging and brand new to me, but really not terribly difficult after I had made my mind up. It reintroduced me to thinking creatively from both a writing and a design perspective. I honestly hadn’t had much opportunity for either of those things while I was a therapist. I could write mental health evaluations and reports for the Court, but none of that was terribly creative, It was time to stretch some muscles I had not used for a very long time. I became reacquainted with how much I enjoy writing and how I genuinely like writing about things I care about.
Here is another wrinkle I encountered during my transition rollercoaster ride: Over the past two years I have had to come to terms with how much ADHD has influenced my actions and opinions, particularly in the workplace. I really wasn’t aware of my ADHD blind spots and sometimes this could make me exceedingly defensive. This was an odd part of my transition. On the one hand, I was glad to be more fully informed regarding ADHD, the truth is the truth after all. On the other hand this knowledge rocked me a bit because I felt like I didn’t know the limits of my control or when my own brain might sabotage me. This was unnerving to me because I couldn’t just charge in bravely to a situation and hope for the best. I had to recognize and then seriously evaluate whether certain situations were manageable for me, or likely to implode due to my neurodivergence. I had to be ruthlessly honest with myself and apply experience and discernment.
Transition can be wrenchingly hard and it can seem unending. I felt like I was walking through the proverbial desert with no guidance. And you know what? I absolutely was. I gave everything I had to my career as a therapist and giving everything can extract a price. Burnout is rough; being directionless can be even rougher. However, there is no way to short-cut that process, not when you realize genuine change is required. I had to make genuine change otherwise I would have exploded. Time away from community mental health has improved my perspective tremendously. In retrospect, I know I will never be able to care about a career that does not inspire genuine passion in me. My time as a therapist working with sex offenders did come with a cost, but I don’t regret it. That was part of my journey and I would not have been effective had I not jumped in with both feet. I regret nothing.
For those of you who subscribe to astrology, look up the aspect called a Chiron Return. While I know astrology is not for everyone, this term does describe my experience. The term midlife crisis also applies somewhat, except I didn’t buy the sports car or remarry a twenty-two year old. I was, however, miserable and lost for a bit. Telling someone to “embrace the suck” is catchy, but actually going through it is something you can only do by yourself and it will hurt. No matter who we are, we all have unresolved issues that can rear up and bite us in the ass when we least expect or can afford it. These will likely come up when we are initiating big changes. Please remember big changes can yield big results.
The post script I mentioned earlier pertains to the coaching job I got laid off from. They asked me back, guaranteeing I will be hired back on as a coach. I could use the cash injection and I will have time to develop my business into a viable full-time venture. Taking my experiences and viewpoints and tailoring them for others in order to help them seems like the best way to cap my transition experience. There are lots of worthy causes out there, but I want to front mine. What else am I here for? We’ll see how this goes. Stick around.