When I walked into the restaurant yesterday, I was one of only a handful of people NOT wearing a suit. I was meeting an old friend for lunch and breezing through the dining room, I felt starkly out of place in my jeans and sweater. Everywhere I looked were professionals toting their planners and dropping their business jargon, elegantly dressed and put together. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and out of my element. I used to be one of them. And admittedly, I felt a tinge of jealousy recalling my old life. The routine, the structure, the designer handbags and dry-cleaned tailored suits.
Settling at a table, my friend greeted me warmly also dressed nicely in a suit and polished shoes. For the next hour we talked about life. He asked about my work and with some hesitation, I began recounting some of the last two years, and as I told a few stories, I realized that the jealousy was melting away and I could feel my face and eyes light up talking about what I was up to, what I was building, what I’d accomplished And there was so much ground I’d covered in two years, I would have been hard-pressed to recognize my old self. And he started asking questions, his interest piquing – of the company I supported, the writing I was doing, and the charities I was connected to and their work. The precious mornings I now shared with my daughters at home instead of being stuck in a commute and the school pick-ups and volunteering that had never been a possibility with my old work schedule. And it wasn’t that my hours were any less spent working, they were just mine to manage. Mine. And by the end of our meal, I felt really good about my jeans and sweater, my new life, the people who surrounded me, and the choices that had brought me here.
I read a quote the other day by David Emerald (thanks for posting Johnny Waite), about creating outcomes in your life by balancing what you want, with your current situation. He called it “Dynamic Tension.” He used the example of a rubber band between your fingers. According to Emerald, in creating the tension that exists between the two, you exact a force as powerful as gravity that will be the creative manifestation of the outcome you desire.
And two years ago, where I was wasn’t an easy place. Unemployed, newly divorced, and uninspired by the prospect of finding another corporate job. On the opposite end of that spectrum was the idea of being emotionally connected to my work, changing lives for the better, and spending more time with my growing daughters. The chasm between the two couldn’t have seemed farther. And that tension, my rubber band, was uncomfortable. More than that, it was terrifying. And I had some choices to make.
But, for me, I was okay with being uncomfortable for a while, which afforded me a third option: hold the tension. Embrace my rubber band.