For many different reasons I have long felt compelled to publicly share thoughts that many only whisper to each other behind closed doors. Some call that careless. I call it the legacy I wish to build. Speak your truth and find connections with those that are brave enough to yell, “Me too!” out loud. Never be afraid of or ashamed for your humanness.
Which is precisely why I shared a blog post last night about why I was quitting my job. Leaving my job - leaving safety, leaving security, leaving identity - is scary. It is less scary now that I spoke it out loud and many brave held up their hands and said, “Me too!” I am not alone.
Thank you, brave people.
I can only surmise, however, that the blog post didn’t sit well with some as my last week at United Way turned abruptly into my last day at United Way today. It’s okay, though… I know the risk I take when I put my words out into the public domain. I remain unafraid and unashamed.
It was surreal closing the office door behind me for the last time this afternoon - knowing, finally, there was no going back again. This place that I had held so close to the heart for so long was no longer mine. I took a picture of the closed door and posted it online...
“A United Way’er no more.”
It feels damn good to say that tonight. Not because I don’t love the work of United Way - I always will. And not because I don’t love the people at United Way - I always will. But because figuring out who I am outside of United Way is important and I now have space to do so.
When I walked into UWSEM almost fifteen years ago I was a completely different person. I was still an undergrad student. I was a suburbanite. I had just started dating Mr. Adams. I had NO clue what I wanted to do with my life or what my talents were. No one had ever challenged me to define my purpose or mission. I didn’t even know people actually had such things. I was in awe of my new coworkers - people who talked about how they were going to change the world. The conversations were intoxicating.
My time at United Way has been nothing short of transformative. I walked in the door only wanting a paycheck, but before long I was on a mission. Listening to my colleagues talk about ideas - big and small - that could impact the world… finding my place in that work and in those conversations. I wasn’t developing programming that was going to feed kids or help them learn to read, but I was contributing to it in my own unique, and important, way.
Those conversations still happen there but somehow, in the last few months, I became less and less involved in them until I had no place in them at all. I was back to square one… a paycheck. I’m anxious to get back out into the world and find out where I can be a part of the important conversations again. Better yet, where I can start the conversations.
Tonight in yoga I set an intention to not focus on what I no longer was - a United Way’er - but to instead focus on what I am - a grown woman with purpose and focus and a whole lot of opportunity to activate on both stretched out in front of her. With each pose I could feel the loss melt away and the gratitude enter.
Thank you to the place and the people that that helped me discover that life is measured by more than paychecks. Thank you to the place and the people that helped me name my strengths. Thank you to the place and the people that challenged me to live life with intention. Thank you to the place and the people that helped me define my legacy. And thank you to the place and the people that helped usher me out that back door today, for the last time, to find my new place in the world.
A sunset is nothing more and nothing less than the backside of a sunrise.