Starting Over: The Turning Point Series

This is the Turning Point Series where I recall events in my life that changed the course of my journey in some significant, impactful way. I almost entitled it the TP Series but then thought better of it. Given the state of our world with covid and everything, I didn’t want people to wrongly assume this was the central spot to find the best toilet paper sales in the north (it’s not, btw).

“I want to help people.” This was the resounding answer heard all around the room. It was my first day of college. I decided I wanted to study in the field of social work. Like most of the students in the class that day, my response to the professor’s question (why did you choose this specific field) was the same. I want to help people. For as long as I could remember, I loved the feeling of being validated, being needed, and helping others (perhaps in ways I felt I could have been helped). I didn’t know exactly what this translated to, but I knew this is what I wanted to do as a career.

Fast forward to being fresh out of post-secondary school, I was looking for my first real job. I was eager to pay back my mounting student loans and desperate for financial stability. The sooner I paid off my debt, the sooner I could start saving up as much as I could to move out on my own. All I cared about at that time in my life was making money because money represented freedom, independence, a way out, and a new beginning. I had applied to every job that seemed remotely related to my field of study. Then I stumbled upon a job ad online that would, unbeknownst to me, change the course of my working life.

The company was a small, family-owned (yet up-and-coming) business in the growing home health care industry. The owner saw a gap in the health care system and filled that niche using his savvy business acumen, alongside his personal experience with the barriers he encountered while caring for his ailing grandparents. This is who I ended up working for. Because the company was still in its infancy stage of development, there was infinite room to grow. I didn’t know it then, but the sky was my limit; the pudding for my taking.

The only issue at the time was the pay- it was just below my expectations. But a job was a job, and I accepted it anyway. I took the job for all the reasons a mid-twenty-something-year-old-who-still-lives-at-home takes any job, I was young, naïve, and desperate for real-world experience. Sure enough, I got it and then some!

The job was an entry-level position managing the recruitment/human resources department. I say “department” but that is small-business-talk for ‘one-man show.’ I was that one man; the whole department was me. But that also meant I got to lead and stamp out new trails. I was scouting, interviewing, training, hiring, firing and everything in between. I was driven, creative, effective, and very efficient at my job. I met new challenges with a high rate of success. My boss started consulting me on pivotal business ventures for my valued input. I was thrilled to be a part of this company’s rich history, from the ground up. As the company grew beyond all our wildest dreams, I felt immense pride as I chased each milestone promotion from Human Resources Coordinator to Case Manager, then finally to Operations Manager of the home health care division.

That job was a major part of my life, of my identity. Sure, it scarred me at times and brought me to hell and back, but I was happy too. And for a while there, I loved it. At least I thought I did, but the higher up I moved, the more dissatisfied I became. The higher up I moved, the more I found my self-worth being directly tied to the success of my job and, of course, my perceived failures. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that I was making as much of a difference as I originally thought. To say that I was confused is a huge understatement. I felt entangled in a web of interlocking yet contradicting emotions. I began questioning my purpose and my level of happiness because the truth is, I honestly didn’t know.

You see, I can be a chameleon in so many ways. If I don’t love something but know I’m obligated to stick with it, I generally won’t have any issues reconciling my emotions and eventually growing fondness for said unpleasant thing. Or perhaps that is the true definition of Stockholm syndrome?

A part of me was ecstatic that after nearly seven years of a grueling uphill climb, I was finally seeing the title and pay that I deserved. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what else was out there waiting for me. In my final year at the company, I could no longer see myself thriving on a professional or personal level. I knew I had to leave in order to find that passion again. It sounds completely unrelated, but it was like leaving a perfectly fine relationship. There was nothing really wrong with it; I probably could have trudged on for another few years. There was never a huge, glaring red flag, but I just wasn’t happy anymore. In fact, I realized I was scared. I was scared to start over again. I feared what others would say about my next move– where I would end up after all the work I had put into this place. What if the next job isn’t bigger or better than this? And what I learned is that fear should never be the reason to stay stuck in anything.

So, I unstuck myself. I came to a point where I decided if I wasn’t completely happy, it was reason enough to move on. And the thing is, once I decided this, it still wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like feeling that eventual relief of realigning a dislocated elbow, it was actually the opposite. I felt tortured from the day I handed in my resignation to about a year after I had already left. I was still constantly questioning whether I made the right move or not.  

It also didn’t help that I hadn’t exactly struck gold right after either. I struggled to stay focused with finding that new passion, a new purpose, and something I could be proud to be a part of. A couple turbulent years followed but I finally got there. I know now that the decision to take that job so many years ago was the starting point on the path that would lead me to my current job in health care now. I will forever be grateful for that journey.

Do you have a similar story about wanting to start over? Did you end up doing it? Any regrets?

 

Read other posts from this series:

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30 thoughts on “Starting Over: The Turning Point Series

  1. Good for you! You have to live your own life going down your own path. I’ve started over many times. It’s the way to wholeness and sanity. People who allow themselves to stay stuck often are the saddest people I’ve known.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ally! I can’t say I have always been courageous enough to start over but in this situation, I definitely did. Blindly even. But I knew there was no other way to do it. And I also thought, out of fairness to my boss (no matter how much he didn’t want to lose me as an employee), he deserved more than what I was able to give anymore… Thanks for sharing, Ally, always appreciate your input! 🙂

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  2. What a great tale, I loved this! And wow, leaving your job in a weird way almost did really sound like leaving a relationship, the doubts, and the grief. I guess my similar story was leaving New York City. My life there had really been good to me but I thought about it and asked myself, if I’m 45 and still single, is this where’d I’d want to settle down? And my answer was hell no! And I left a great job at the Met Museum, and moved back home, with no idea what to do. It only took 6 months to find a foot-in-the-door job at a prestigious university and now I’m doing what I love, after bouncing around in a few different positions. I think taking the leap always pays off. I think The Universe likes ballsy souls ♥️♥️♥️

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  3. The TP Series (One woman’s journey in search of the perfect toilet paper.) 😊

    Thanks again for such a thoughtful post, BB. I always connect with so many of your sentiments.
    First, I totally get that feeling of wanting to help people—it’s the same one I had as a teacher. I wrote about my journey to find a purpose in life in the first chapter of my book. You seemed to have had a better idea of where you were going than I had at the time. I was in full scramble mode, watching friends who knew what they were doing with their futures and actually had a plan while I went from one dead end job to another.

    I’ve seen many people come to that defining moment in their life when they think about changing careers. The trap, as you articulate so well, is that we’re finally making a respectful amount of money that helps us meet some of our financial goals and yet we know the love for our work is missing. I had a slightly different question. I thought about changing directions and going back to school to get my administrative credential and become a principal or superintendent. It would have meant much more money, but I wasn’t willing to give up what I was passionate about—teaching children.

    Congrats on taking that leap of faith and listening to your heart. By the way, I’ve probably never told you this, but my mom went back to school after she had raised her four boys. I was graduating high school when she was graduating from college. There are all these pictures of us standing together in our cap and gowns. She’s looking so proud, and I was playing the role of the moody teenager.😆 I didn’t appreciate at the time how brave it was for her to do that. She became a social worker in a hospital working with dialysis patients and their families. After I grew up and finally matured, I told her how proud I was of her to do that.

    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is such a defining roadblock… stay the same and be as you are (unhappy/unfulfilled in my case) or take a leap of faith and hope to find something that will give you purpose and joy.. Luckily I found the latter but definitely terrifying!

      I would bet a good penny your students were happy you never went back to school because I am certain you have touched and changed so many lives during your great career! And wow, your mom going back to school is inspiring! That really shows it’s never too late to chase a new passion or purpose, no matter how old you are! Thanks for sharing, Pete! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great insights. That must have been terrifying. I’m very security conscious so it would have been very difficult for me to leave a steady job/paycheck. Eventually I had a husband and two kids depending on the health insurance and stability of my teaching job. Thankfully, I did love teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was extremely terrifying (financially and just mentally). I felt I had so much to prove to everyone and all for different reasons. But most of all, I felt like I had to prove to myself it was the best move. I didn’t want all of the efforts to be wasted. And yes, I didn’t share it but I also had the support of my boyfriend (now husband) in case it got really bad and I couldn’t find a steady job but I did go about 3 or 4 months I think without a job to fall back on so that was also scary (I’ve always had a job ever since I could legally work)! So glad you love what you do, it’s such a great feeling! 🙂

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  5. I can relate to this story. When I joined the workforce, I followed the traditional career path. In those days, the only way to make more money was to move up the ladder and take on people leadership responsibilities. So, that’s what I did. After 15 years of people leadership, I decided I’d had enough. I was good at it (told that by people who worked for me), but the amount of energy it took to be good at it sucked the life out of me. Thanks to a great boss, I was able to stay with the same company and move into an indivdual contributor role. It was the best move I ever made. I still get to be a leader, but in a different way, without the day-to-day management, performance reviews, administration, and all that stuff that I hated. That move was definitely a turning point for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My husband can so relate to this! He is a great manager but he doesn’t love all the administrative tasks that go along with a job like that. Unfortunately for him, there’s no way around it for his type of job/position but fortunately for him, he’s gotten so much better with training/teaching/coaching.

      I’m so glad everything worked itself out for you, Michelle and now you’re much happier doing what you’re doing! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What if TP *was* your turning point? 😉

    I think you’re right about the first job being like a relationship that you’re not sure you should leave. We don’t know enough about a new experience that we’re often scared and don’t make the best choices the first time around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly… sometimes our hearts tell us it could be better to stay with something you know rather than go into the beyond into something you don’t know…. can be terrifying, especially for someone who hates change like me!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I SO RELATE WITH YOU. I’m sure you already know my corporate world to entrepreneurial journey. Got one of the best paying jobs from my B-school. Started off enthusiastically but I soon came to hate my corporate job. (the difference in our journeys) I hated doing meaningless work, work that had no real impact. I hated just working for money. I also had a year of feeling lost and figuring out what I wanted to do. And now my business is almost a year old! 😀 😀

    PS: I know a lot of people have obligations which makes them unable to do something totally crazy like quit a job they don’t like or enjoy. I also understand that a lot of people don’t have that risk taking gene. And it is okay to just do a 9-5 job and enjoy the rest of your life! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, for sure! One thing I hadn’t mentioned was how lucky I was to be in a position to be able to quit my job without anything to bounce back on… I had the support of my husband (then live-in boyfriend). It definitely took a lot of blind courage but I certainly don’t regret a thing! So glad you found the joy in your journey, too! 🙂

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  8. I wanted to start over in my life and you’re right it wasn’t easy for me either. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and also it’s been the thing that’s brought me the most joy within my life. So I 100% agree. Find your joy because life is short and it’s worth it

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the bigger the risk, the greater the joy! It’s so satisfying knowing what we were scared to do, ended up being the best thing for us! It may have been hard to see at the time but hindsight is 20/20. That, in itself, should provide us all with hope because that means when we go through tough stuff, we may not know it at the time but there’s always a bigger purpose… thanks for reading as always, LaShelle!

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  9. I “lucked” into a career that allowed me to change paths if I wanted to but once I hit my sweet spot I stayed for almost 40 years and loved it every day. I wasn’t sorry to retire from it though as it had taken a toll on my body. Our turning point came as a couple when we decided to give up the easy life in the city and move and restore an old house. We “homesteaded” on a 1/4 section of land and created our own world out here and while it was definitely a ton of work I am so at peace here.
    Dropped over from Ally’s blog roll. Nice to meet another blogger. Bernie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Bernie! So glad to have you here! You’re lucky you found your calling and stayed with it for a joyous 40 years! That’s amazing! And agreed, too much of anything is not always a good thing. At some point we have to call it and make time for ourselves… we should always space for other passions and growth! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  10. I had this quote to comfort me during the (many) changes, including the ones when my friends thought I was (a little?) crazy. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” (Churchill, I believe) I’m still changing directions, and it still takes a lot of courage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh it takes sooo much courage to go against the grain and do what you believe is right or true to who you are! And you know what, we aren’t always perfect but I think the act of making that change is courageous and does so much for our psyche- to know that no matter what, we will be okay! Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

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  11. Oh hell yeah. I’ve switched careers so many times that my entire life almost seems like a turning point, lol. But that’s a story for another time, eh? I just wanted to drop by to say that I enjoy YOUR stories and bravery to make those pivotal decisions in your life. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. After approximately 12 years at a comfortable and secure job, I left for another opportunity. That didn’t work out well. Toxic workplace was off the charts and the VP’s executive assistant had it out for me, because I was a threat to her. The owner of the company, whom she hated, loved me. She made my life miserable. I left after four months, because I knew I wasn’t going to tolerate her hostility and was just about ready to throat punch her. I came right back to my old job. I never looked back. I’m okay with the decisions I made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, I commend your gutsiness (is that a word)! Doing that takes balls. You wanted to see what it would be like jumping ship and you went and you saw and you had no qualms going back! The going back part also takes guts and as long as you’re happy and have no regrets then hey, good for you! I think, in life, fear holds so many of us back from discovering the “what ifs” and it’s a shame to see it when it happens to you or someone you love… because that fear can be so crippling and intense… thanks for sharing 🙂

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  13. You are completely correct; taking that job so many years ago was the beginning of the journey that would eventually lead to her current position in health care. It’s encouraging to realize that you’ll be grateful for that adventure for the rest of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t always feel right in the moment, in fact, it feels scary as heck- but so glad I learned something from that… wouldn’t change it for the world! Thanks for reading!

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