Today I’m delighted to welcome Linda Wolf. Linda writes Insanely Serene, a blog devoted to her passion for peace of mind and serenity. Through her blog, she offers practical suggestions for moving from low self-esteem to powerful self-confidence, carved from honest and touching reference to her own, real experiences. Here she shares how personal crisis and search for meaning alchemized her own Different Kind of Work.
I love Christine’s blog for her amazing writing, and for the ideas she presents about the possibilities for stepping outside our family and societal expectations to find the work we love. I’m inspired by her work and am honored to be a part of her series on how others have found their way to express their purpose in life. Here is a little bit of my story.
I am a quiet non-conformist. Reserved by nature, I was a sensitive child and shy young adult. I appeared to be following the path laid out by generations of my hard-working family with its immigrant roots in early 20th century America: Get a good education, a respectable job/career, marry, have children, buy a home, save for retirement. I went to college and later earned a graduate degree, built a career in communications, and got engaged to a research scientist. Textbook, huh?
But wait! (Sound of needle on record album screeching to a halt.) From the beginning there were signs of unrest. As a kid, I withdrew into books and stories when I didn’t like the reality around me. I did not fit in to any of the accepted crowds in high school. I refused to cover up unpleasantness in my family, insisting on speaking up for truth. And I didn’t have a path. I felt the pressure of family expectations for success, but I did not know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to end up.
A Different Kind of Inner Work
Several factors combined to lead me in the direction of a different kind of inner work. As a youth, I felt that something was wrong, but I could not articulate what. Though there was much chaos, I also saw around me adults who modeled the behavior of seeking help and balance – never giving up on the idea of feeling better, despite the crush of difficulties in life.
Thus, my inner uneasiness joined forces with a drive to feel better – to seek resources at every turn, to be willing to try new things – anything to get out of depression and into feeling happier.
Seeking turned into a lifelong pattern. At the point of my engagement, I had finally broken free of depression, but I was lying to myself to be safe, not in love, in my relationship.
A crisis led me to break off the engagement and focus intense energy on myself. I had to dig out all of my character flaws, face them, and let them go. In the process, I got to really know myself – the person underneath all the societal pressures. And I discovered the joy of emotional and spiritual freedom that comes from self-honesty and taking responsibility for my life.
A Different Kind of Life Path
Although as a young adult I didn’t have a clear idea for my occupation, I did eventually find my way to my ideal skill set – communications, specifically writing. I built a career in writing within my field of interest – science and health. I was lucky enough to get dream jobs at environmental organizations, science museums, and communications agencies. For a long time I was satisfied with my professional track.
Over the last few years, however, I started to feel a tickle in the back of my mind…there was something more I wanted to do. I didn’t know exactly what, but it had to do with writing, and it had to do with the work I’d done getting to know myself. And I knew it meant stepping off the traditional path.
Being a cautious person, it’s taken me a long time to evolve this new direction. For a few years, all I did was think about it (as in, “I’d like to retire so I can do whatever I want to with my time!”). I got some clarity around wanting to do my own writing. For the next couple of years, I evolved a plan to transition from a full-time job to a schedule that would allow big chunks of time for writing.
For the last two years, I’ve been able to manage a schedule of part-time work and time devoted to my writing – and what I’m going to do with it. I’m stepping outside the norm. I’m learning that the most important thing is what I think, not what I think others think. It’s about having confidence in my inner voice, whether for my personal growth or my professional path.
Even with all this searching, I don’t know my final destination. But if I listen to my insides, I believe I’m on the right track; and I know these things:
- I love to write and I’m good at it.
- I have a passion for peace of mind – and for using personal development tools to keep my serenity in all situations that life throws at me.
- I want to share my knowledge – how I’ve become my best self – because it helps me continue my inner work.
- I love helping others find their way to their true selves.
My blog is a first step toward helping others. For the future, I have dreams of possibly publishing a book, teaching workshops, and working with individuals and groups. I will continue down my path, without knowing where it ends, because for now, it feels right. I trust the unfolding process and that I’ll know the next step when it’s time.
I welcome any suggestions from you, and would love to hear a little of your journey toward a different kind of work.