The Career Advice You Actually Need

I remember vividly the struggle of childbirth but none of the memories are as clear as this: the warm, slimy weight of my babies’ bodies against my skin in the instant after they entered the world.

Each time, something in me shifted. Actually, everything in me shifted. Do you know how the internal organs move around when you’re pregnant, to make room for the growing uterus and the baby inside?

Your intestines shift up, your liver makes a home around breast level, and despite how hungry you might feel, your stomach has limited space as it gets squashed upwards, too. The bladder stays low, the bearer of unrelenting pressure from the changes occurring above.

It makes sense, then, that when everything comes back into place again, it’s a little bit different. Or a lot different. And it makes sense that life follows suit. Our bodies don’t pretend they didn’t just have a baby. They don’t rush to go back to the way things were. Why should we?

With each birth, each warm body placed on my ribcage instead of underneath it, my view of the world changed, and with it, my view of my life and career.

When my daughter was born: I cannot go back to that job that I hate. Absolute certainty with a side of absolute fear.

When my son was born: This working for myself thing is not a stopgap. It’s the life I want. Now I need to get serious about making this last.

Each time, a shift. Each time, a knowing filled with doubt. Each time, the need to go for it anyway. Each time, a little more risk. Each time, a deconstruction designed to reconstruct. From contraction... expansion.

The Career Advice You Actually Need (that no one ever tells you)

 

In my 20-something, pre-kid years, I had become trapped, by my own work ethic and natural risk aversion, and by the mundane but important responsibilities of bills and the desire to “be an adult.”

Grown ups don’t quit their jobs without another job, or at least a viable plan. Stay in the job, baby, because you have to. 

Everybody has stories of a difficult boss—just stick it out and save your bitching for happy hour, that’s why it exists.

You love your coworkers, so that has to count for something. Would you get to work with such awesome people somewhere else? Never gonna happen, so enjoy the company in your misery.

Don’t be stupid, because once upon a time you thought this was your dream job. Can’t hate when you’re living the dream, right?

It took the literal shift of my body, the physical weight of a newly born responsibility for me to cast aside all the false reasoning I had come to believe as truth.

I knew that, in theory, I could work for myself (I worked with freelancers all the time, and the best lunchtime conversations centered around going rogue and creating our own agency) but I had never given it any serious thought. Those were daydreams, in the same category as conversations about what you would do if you won the lottery.

Then I became a mom, and it freed me from the barriers I thought existed. And when those falsehoods were gone, I was able to embrace what I always thought were contradictions. I’m an introvert, but I crave connection. I’ve never considered myself the entrepreneurial type, but I need freedom and choice. I’m not a risk taker, but I’ve always cut my own path.  

That all comes together in a synchronicity I didn’t design, but one I stumbled upon and then held tight to.

If I believed in regret I’d say, “I wish I’d done this years ago.” I’d say, “Why did I waste so much time?” I’d say, “Imagine where I could be now if I started then.”

That’s a waste of time for me, now.

But maybe it’s not for you.

You don’t need to wait for another life to arrive and rearrange your organs, your thought process, your life. You can do it for yourself.

What do you want?

What do you believe?

What do you feel in your gut?

Maybe it's different for you. Maybe that life has already arrived. Maybe you're in a place now that you know you'll back on and try hard not to regret. You don't need to let the life that's already arrived and rearranged your life, to keep you from rearranging your thought process, and rearranging your life again. You can still do it.

What do you want?

What do you believe?

What do you feel in your gut?

Follow it. (Just take a step.) Get curious. (You don't have to burn everything down to the ground, just ask "what if?") See where it takes you. (And don't think too much about what's next.)

Do it for yourself first. But know that you are doing it for all of us. I'm certain that your rising is the rising of all of us. I am certain that this is the secret to a more beautiful world.