This photo popped up in my Facebook memories today and I started cracking up. Recently I’ve met a few new people and the standard small talk question comes up,
“What do you do for work?”
To which I usually respond,
“Well, in this lifetime, I’m the Education Manager for a bodyweight primal movement program.”
This usually prompts two things; further discussion about the company and my role, and describing what my previous lifetimes entailed. Most recently, my previous lifetime was spent as a Human Resources Professional. I quickly moved from Assistant to Supervisor, and was an HR Manager for 300 employees in a national civil engineering firm by the age of 26. I spent a Bachelors, a Masters, and total of 11 years in the world of HR…
The almost immediate response to this newly discovered fact by the person I am talking to is often surprise. And more commonly,
“Wow, really? But you’re an HR nightmare.”
I never take offense to this because one, it’s not entirely untrue. And two, my interactions with most people up to this point in the conversation are usually loud and somewhat inappropriate and have included at least one “That’s what she said.” punchline. Also, anyone who has known me over most of my life had trouble understanding how I fit in this role, including myself. I often claimed that I deserved an Academy Award for the stellar acting I performed every day.
Think about that for a minute….
I chose a profession that required me to put on a mask and pretend I was something I’m not EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It’s no wonder I was constantly suffering from Imposter Syndrome and feeling like I didn’t belong.
Why? Why did I (do many of us) do this?
I can’t speak for others, but the answer to my “why?” is because I thought I was supposed to.
From the age of 18 I knew I wanted to impact people’s daily lives in a positive way. I wanted to foster an environment that they enjoyed being a part of. And since many of us are conditioned to believe the corporate world provides safety and security and health insurance and retirement plans, I had to find a way to do this that fit inside of this box. I chose HR because I wanted to work with leaders to build a community of thriving individuals who enjoyed spending their entire days with the organization and wanted to spend extra time there too. Because that’s what I wanted.
Unfortunately, in most organizations, this is not the case, and at job after job I was nothing more than a police officer and a “no” person. I was the bearer of bad news for many people during the recession, and again with the changes in the healthcare landscape. I was a lonely island and a person that people feared or disliked. All I wanted was to be liked and included and MAN, did I pick the wrong job for that.
I was stuck in believing that I had to pick a career, go to college, and then do that thing in one job or another until the age of 65 (or whatever the retirement age comes to be), when I could finally hang up my business casual clothes and start living my life and pursuing my passions.
Seriously, read that again.
How does that make ANY SENSE? Why would I (do we) wait until my (our) life is more than half over to start living? To start asking ourselves what we really want? To start trying and failing at different things?
I know why I did it. A false sense of security that a corporate ladder promised. The expectations I felt of a social norm. These are the steps and if you follow them, you are considered successful and people will praise you and admire you. I never really stopped to ask myself what I want. What inspires me? What drives me? And how can I do these things in a way that provides me with enough resources to live the life I want.
I started the rat race when I was 15. I was working for gas/insurance money and spending money to buy things my parents wouldn’t buy for me. Things I felt I so desperately needed and couldn’t live without. I bought my first brand new car at 19 and my first home with my brother at 23. I worked full time through college (working three jobs at one point while still living at home and not paying rent). All of this lending to the reasons I told myself moving to Southern California wasn’t feasible. FOR 14 YEARS. I had to keep working to pay for the things. I told myself I couldn’t change careers now because I would have to start over and make less money and then how could I PAY FOR THE THINGS???
I often joke about how I pressed RESET on my life 2 years ago; relocation, divorce, career change, clean slate. Starting from scratch, digging in, asking those questions and seeing where they take me.
When I started asking myself what I really wanted and what would really make me happy, it resulted in removing many things in my life, which also in turn, added SO.MUCH.MORE.