“Dear Me”: An Open Letter to the Me who Quit her Job 5 years Ago
You’re too overwhelmed and scared right now but incoming SPOILER ALERT via this open letter – and only I get to tell you this: You’re going to amaze yourself beyond your own imagination over the next five years!
You already know this i-quit-my-job isn’t an impulsive decision; you’ve thought this through. After all, you’re not the self-proclaimed Thunker for nothing! You also know that if it comes down to it, you’d rather live with knowing that things didn’t work out than live with wondering ‘what if’ you had dared to risk it all.
You’ve got nerve and it will see you through. I know… after all, I’m penning this open letter!
Quite naturally, you’re extremely anxious. You don’t have Plan A, let alone Plan B. Your development sector jobs haven’t afforded you the financial cushioning jobs in other sectors would have offered. But you’ve managed to save, though you’d rather not dig into them; not right away at least.
And even when things get bleak, you will remain hopeful for the sake of yourself and it’ll see you through. You will take on random projects and side-gigs and odd-jobs and as-good-as-non-paying-work, to keep your ar*e in the game. You will swim with and against the tide even though you don’t know how to swim. Heck, I still don’t know how to swim and yet, here we are!
You will first learn, and then assert your worth, refusing to bend before anything that does not enable you to create anything of value. YES, you who until now have accepted whatever pay-scale was offered to you without a question …you will question the narrative of payment-by-exposure and you will question the offers to work for 50 paise and INR 1 per word ( < 2 cents $).
Over time, your sense of humour will allow for such requests to satiate your entertainment needs of the day! You will also begin to find people who appreciate what you bring to the table and will be happy to compensate you accordingly!
On inner-work and inner-journeys
But before all of that, you will tackle the Imposter Syndrome head-on. You will un-layer the narratives of ‘I-am-not-good-enough’ and ‘I-am-not-capable’ and ‘I-cannot-do-it-because-I-am-not-the-right-person’. You’ll put yourself out there through your work; the stuff you earnestly believe in. Yes, YOU will put yourself out there. Your introversion will be your guiding star. It won’t be easy.
You will be cornered by your worst nightmares in broad daylight and you will find within you the nerve to confront them with your one sole superpower – your resilience.
But you will first unlearn and then relearn that resilience is not something you magically create and dig into when in need but a muscle you have to constantly nurture, exercise and flex.
It’ll take time and it’ll take all you’ve got – but you’ll get there. You will – for the very first time in your life – come across the term ‘self-care’ and realise just how absent it has been, not only from your life but also from the lives of your caregivers, friends and acquaintances. You will also notice that for the very first time in your life, self-care is a non-negotiable! And as painstaking as it gets, you will make a start with being kinder to yourself. You will stumble and falter and slip into the older defaults.
It will frustrate you enough and more …so you’ll abandon the endeavour of ‘owning your stories’ – except that your self-awareness will not allow you to self-sabotage any more, not even subconsciously! And so you will restart …not once, not twice, not thrice …but many many times over. Over a period of time, you will make a bittersweet peace with the reality that this journey has to be traversed alone. That even with words expressly expressed, not everyone you will want to count on will be able to meet your needs. Thankfully, you have your solo travel skills to draw strength and inspiration from – even though this journey is a whole new deal!
You will learn to let grace in and show you how to hold space for the hurt while grieving for loss you didn’t even know you’d been lugging for so long.
Some days will be harder than others …and they’ll run into weeks. Or even months. At some point, you will feel overcome with desolation. And then something on the inside will nag you enough to realise that you deserve You. You’ll find yourself emboldened to be for yourself the unshakable refuge you’ve always been for everybody else!
You’ll learn to let go You will let go And you will be alright You’ll be alright because of the letting go.
You’ll channel your unlearning and your experiences into an offering for kindred souls who are willing to begin truly listening to the stories they are telling themselves. And you’ll make it less daunting for them than it has been for you …and you’ll hold space for them, as a witness you wish you had. You’ll help them realise that it’s possible and perfectly okay to ‘be you for you’! You’ll write (not only an open letter) And you’ll make people write!
Oh, and you will travel. Not just internally but also internationally. You’ll begin getting that passport stamped. Before that, you would have accomplished for yourself the goal of having travelled to every state within the Indian mainland at least once.
Would you believe that? All this AFTER you stop working full-time.
You’ll learn to savour the role travel has played in your life: leisure, work, distraction, and most of all for broadening your perspectives! You’ll learn to see things beyond how they’re presented or even seem to your naïve mind.
On embracing growth
You will keep coming back to your last day of salaried existence – the 19th of December 2014 – and recall it as a gift to yourself. Liberation from a way of being where you were merely dragging your feet based on somebody else’s definition of ‘normal’. You will be grateful for realising the need to reclaim your autonomy, sooner rather than later. You’ll rewrite your narratives and redefine your normal.
And five years from where you are now, you’ll write an open letter to yourself.
You’ll still be angst-ridden. Like you’re on the precipice of something new and unknown. You’ll still feel like as much of a fledgeling… BUT you’ll be more self-assured than you recall ever being. Most of all, you won’t be afraid of standing alone… because your Future Self is already penning that next open letter!
This post is Part V of a series where I share reflections:
365 Days After I Quit My Job To Travel 6 Quotes That Sum Up Year 2 After I Quit My Job Word of the Year on my third I-Quit-My-Job anniversary 2018: Another year that was “Dear Me”: An open letter to the Me who quit her job 5 years ago