The Middle

The Middle

Awakening is not a process of building ourselves up but a process of letting go. It’s a process of relaxing in the middle – the paradoxical, ambiguous middle, full of potential, full of new ways of thinking and seeing – with absolutely no money-back guarantee of what will happen next.

Pema Chödrön

Up until this point, I’ve lived my life as the “good girl”. I followed the rules, I studied hard to get good grades, I got a Bachelor’s degree in a parent-approved field, worked hard, got married, bought a house, adopted a dog, and had two kids.

Don’t get me wrong; there is so much in my life for which I’m incredible grateful. I know I am privileged – to have the means, the opportunity, and the choice to have so many freedoms in my life. Privilege, however, says nothing about happiness.

Through my late twenties and early thirties it became apparent to me that something was wrong. I felt constant uneasiness, defensiveness, and anxiety. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t make friends, and some days I couldn’t see any purpose to my life. Maybe it was depression, lack of identity, or third-life crisis, if we are labelling things. I had this entire beautiful, coveted, scripted life for myself. I had followed the rules, got the grades, earned the degree, worked the job, and climbed the ladder, but I was miserable. I was disconnected and lonely and work made my heart feel like stone: weighted and unmoving. But what else was there to do? I had followed the rules, hadn’t I?

The thing with these rules is that they were a complete illusion: a fabrication of my upbringing, socialized values, gender identity, and family expectations. So screw those rules – let’s write some new ones.

New rules:

  • A logical, secure career does not equal success. Success means trusting your heart, even if you don’t know where its taking you.
  • Your life doesn’t need a business plan. You don’t need to know the financial prospects or the employment opportunities in the beginning. Do what you love first; the rest will follow.
  • Focus on loving where you are right now, today. Forget the 5-year plan.

In October 2021, I start a Masters of Counselling program. I’m not certain this is the end for me, but it’s not about defining the end. I’ve always wanted to go back to school and I’ve been looking at a variety of Masters programs for many years. The difference between this program and every other program I’ve looked at is: it doesn’t make me cringe. It doesn’t make me say “I guess so, if I have to…”. I want to study these topics – in many ways I’ve been studying these topics for most of my life. The thought of this career change makes me feel proud, whole, and authentic. It feels like my heart is singing, not sinking.

Now is the middle between old and new ways of thinking: my old career and my new one, my old identity and my new one. That is the external view, but inside it feels like I’ve peeled away the parts of me that weren’t really me and I’ve arrived at something more core, more fundamental. Maybe this is the process of awakening – a lessening, a focusing, and a reverberating with your authentic nature.