You know how people say something (career field, skill, craft, etc.) is both a science and an art? Well starting fresh, beginning again, starting new, or whatever you call it is more of the latter than the former.
There is no manual, no special sauce formula, no foolproof “ten steps to a better fresh start” (although the internet may beg to differ). You just kinda go, maybe make a plan, and then hope for the best all the while cowering with fear inside, your palms constantly slippery with the sweat of anxiety.
But let me back up a bit.
It has been over a month since I’ve written. There are so many things I want to write but don’t yet know how. During this gap, I left my job, a field of work I enjoy, and a strong support system, then moved across the state to enter a completely new field via graduate school.
To say the least I’ve been busy and tired and decided somewhere along this busy-tried highway that writing was again just something that could wait. And so I shelved it, like I often end up doing. It got put back on one of those dusty, dark places you might find in a garage, stuffed among the useless cords, old paint, and ratty shoes.
Being Afraid and Stuck
I give the cold shoulder to writing when I am busy, sure, but more so when I am afraid. And I still am. 100 f’ing percent.
In addition to being afraid I’ve been a cocktail of other emotions. Happy. Sad. Happy. Sad. Really sad. Really nervous. Happyish. Maybe excited? Relaxed. Frantic. Almost hysterical. Calm. Confused. And of course, afraid, afraid, afraid. (Not the “dark thing under your bed” afraid, but the “holy f, what am I doing?” afraid.)
Packing up your last successful life chapter and waiting at the station until you pull into the next one just, well, sucks. Plain and simple. Let’s just call it what it is.
Things are eerily calm yet unsettling at the same time. You feel like you’re on a wobbly dock trying to stay balanced so you don’t fall into the water below where it’s so gray and murky that you can’t even see your own reflection.
And you can’t see that darn reflection because your new chapter self hasn’t quite manifested yet. It’s partly there — since you’ve got all your past chapter selves hanging around like friendly, old ghosts but none of these feel quite right to take on your next steps.
So you’re just kinda stuck for the time being and more vulnerable than usual. Which is where I’m at right now. (I also want to cry uncontrollably. Comes with the territory.)
Things I Know and Things I Don’t
I desperately want to get un-stuck but I know it’s not quite the time yet — it will happen though.
What I also know is that I wanted this change (i.e. leaving my job, moving away, going back to school); I planned for it in all humanly possible ways — lists, sound financial management, early packing.
Few details can escape my masterful planning (ask anyone who knows me, surely there will be nods as they read this), yet the planning didn’t make me feel any better. It reassured me that I can plan well and that I’m insanely organized. But I didn’t need this reassurance.
What I needed was someone to spill the beans, to tell me that fancy schmancy secret formula to coping with a new start — the “science.” But no one did because no one really knows.
The Terrifying Beauty of New Beginnings
Each new beginning is our own precious little terrifying experience. We can shape it however the hell we want it.
Even if someone is taking the same steps as you or has taken the same steps before you they are still not experiencing exactly what you are.
Sure, you can gather some intel from Past New Beginners and seek advice from your dear family and friends but ultimately it’s your choice in how you proceed down the promising yet poorly lit New Beginning Road.
Whether it’s dancing like hell or running around bat-shit crazy, do your thing.
And I know, I know — you can’t see the entire path in front of you but that’s half the fun! And half the fear. (I know that too).
For me personally, I worked very, very hard professionally to get where I was in my last life chapter and so starting a new one makes me feel a bit like a splattered bug on a car windshield — dead on arrival.
I’ve felt disoriented and uncertain and questioned my own abilities, talent and experiences. In sum, I didn’t feel like much of anything and my head and heart were totally out of sync.
But these frightening feelings and thoughts pass as they now are for me.
I had to take some time to remember where I was and who I was and who I am today, reminding myself that I’m one badass mother f’er. (Self confidence is the shit, isn’t it? Makes you feel like you can fly — and you can, metaphorically speaking.)
It also helped to begin establishing a routine, meet new people and explore what the area has to offer to cultivate that feeling of excitement about the future.
Perhaps this is the “science” part of the Beginning Again Equation — but we are all different and maybe this is not how you would handle a new start (and that’s fine).
So go ahead and take whatever new beginning that you have chosen or that you’re thrown into and make it fully your own, fear and all.
Begin again as the person you’ve always admired (your true BA self) and I’ll be right there beside you, doing it too.
P.S. My newsletter is currently under construction — stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for reading!
Feature photo credit: Light between trees / KP