Patience: Then and Now

Last night, I had dinner with a colleague and friend, Don, who is a recently promoted senior manager at my company. In our dinner discussion, I gave him the quick and dirty rundown of what I’ve been through, what I’m doing, and where I’m going, all sprinkled amongst jokes and light-hearted topics. Many times during the conversation, he would say that he was shocked to hear what I went through and agreed that I should leave this toxic situation as soon as possible, even offering to help in any way that he could. What stood out the most to me regarding our conversation was his description of me as “patient”, which happened quite a few times during the conversation. Patient is probably the last thing word I would use to describe myself and even hearing it be repeated was jarring. How was I patient?

As I drove home, I pondered Don’s observation and realized that he was pretty accurate. I had become patient and angry, but not motivated to truly work on bettering my situation. What I had failed to realize until Don mentioned it was that I had been trying to wait out the storms in my personal work story at the company. I was being patient about learning what it is that was supposed to be my next step, and what sign I would be getting from God relating to what I need to do next. I was complaining about a situation but doing absolutely nothing to change it.

For over a year, I had been wearing a thick veil of sadness over my emotions and thoughts. I could not bring myself to appreciate the great people and things around me. I had allowed a small subset of my professional life plant seeds within my mind that sprouted self-doubt, paranoia, and insecurity that were not present when I entered this company. I had convinced myself that all my enemies had colluded and hatched a scheme to mentally weaken me. Yet, even with this belief, I remained patient, if not optimistic, that things would get better.

Eventually I reached my breaking point and become motivated to leave, and began actively seeking alternate employment. Year after year, I witnessed other people be groomed for the futures they wanted, while my requests to take on more responsibility was met with passive assistance in the form of weak listings of items I needed to work on in order to be considered ready for this next level. None of the items suggested had ever been anything that I would not expect to see at every performance review, no matter what level I was. I saw right through the fluff. Yet I stayed patient.

This rage I felt toward my company began to seep through my pores. I was irritable and moody, and could not have a conversation without mentioning how much I hated work. I felt increasingly alienated from my closest friends and family and would break into spontaneous tears at least once a day. I was just a mess. I knew that I needed to get out by any means necessary, and unfortunately, quitting was not an option for financial reasons. I grew tired of always been in a  bad mood and was desperate to fill my time with activities to get my mind off of work. I picked back up with my self-paced study of writing computer code and was aggressive in this endeavor, hoping to learn a skill that I could use as a side hustle, or gain full-time employment with. I just wanted ANYTHING but this company and this industry. When I couldn’t focus enough on programming, I drowned my anger in reading career related articles and blogs, subconsciously seeking a success story to provide motivation to work through this. Eventually I hit pay dirt.

One Sunday night a few weeks back, I stumbled upon this article (http://www.liveinthegrey.com/do-you-feel-trapped-at-your-current-job/) on Live In the Grey ( http://www.liveinthegrey.com), a career website catering to individuals and corporations seeking holistic success, that changed everything for me.  Liz Ryan’s podcast spoke to me, and suddenly I went from feeling weakened and angry to feeling strong and hopeful. I needed to focus on my career path and create my force field. I didn’t have time to let negative words and emotions throw me off track in a place that no longer fed into my life goals. I needed my precious mojo supply! In 6 minutes, what I had suffered through for nearly 6 years suddenly melted away. I didn’t feel the emotional connection anymore. I got up and started checking items off my to-do list with the new mental energy that I found. The road to happiness is not something you stumble upon when complaining, it is one that you stumble upon when you finally put your energy and work toward your goals.

Now, when I think of myself as being patient, it leaves a smile on my face. I embrace my patience because it allows me to appreciate how fortunate I am to have the choices I have and a job that covers my expenses until I can make the first steps toward my dreams. I am patient but instead of letting small things wind me up negatively, I just roll them off my back. I have a plan for my future and I am excited about it. My confidence is high and my outlook is positive. I am no longer patient because of a fear to make the necessary changes in my life. I am patient because anything worth having is worth working for. And that is virtue.

-Nel

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