Life can be a real bitch at times, despite all the things you have to be grateful for. You think you’re doing your best work, learning new skills all the time and creating copious amounts of tangible value, but events overtake you and you find yourself in the position of having to start your career path again, from square one. Often, this can be for the shittiest of reasons. Usually it is.
All the work you’ve done and all the things you’ve learned are scattered to the wind and you must rebuild. You no longer have access to your art or the resources you were previously enjoying to create your work. You lose contact with friends and collaborators, as you are cast out of your situation and into another.
Usually, this is a period of high stress. You may lose your income stream and not a little of your self-confidence. Resilience is required. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and reinvent yourself.
Rather than seeing this as an unmitigated disaster, seeing it as an opportunity can be far more positively productive. That’s hard to do, when you’re still smarting from the insult to your happy plans, processing how it came to this and trying hard to stop caring about a situation you were previously passionately committed to. Dwelling on it is wasted time, however. What feels better is immersion into imaginative, innovative new approaches to your life and work, without the nagging, niggling issues you have left behind, albeit involuntarily.
Yes, you’re grieving, but keeping your grief in perspective is a good thing to do. It’s self-preservation. You can take stock of what you wished you had known, to have avoided the situation you’re now in, and can set about learning those missing skills. Sometimes, the skill you lacked was how to conduct an emotionally-charged, crucial conversation so that you get the outcome you wanted. In other cases, it could be a lack of empowerment you felt, due to not having specific technical skills that would have allowed you to create your own destiny, with your own two hands, without reliance on anybody else. You might simply realise that your guts were right all along and the culture you were joining was anathema to everything you hold dear.
Instead of wringing your hands and regretting what caused you to have to rebuild, it’s better to embark on a programme of learning and self-development, to overcome the deficiencies you perceive may have lead to the present unplanned and undesirable outcomes. Reinvention is healing. It also equips you with additional shields against the same thing ever happening to you again. Skills build increased protection, though you can never have enough to avoid every unfortunate happenstance.
The exciting thing is that, rather than being overwhelmed by the mountain you have to climb to get to where you used to be (or further along), you can plan to do the things you love to do best. Motivation is usually hard to rekindle, after a shock to your path, but creating a disciplined work plan, where you eat your frogs first thing in the morning and eat the elephant by taking consistent, small bites, is the best way forward. Face and complete the odious tasks while you’re fresh and break up huge projects into doable pieces. The reward is getting to do things you always wanted to do, but lacked the time or energy. Now you have the time. Summoning the energy is your only real challenge.
Right now, I am in a period of intense up-skilling. I’m learning new things. I’m trying to overcome things that I felt were obstacles. For example, I’ve embraced creating digital art with my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I’m learning both electronic and mechanical CAD. I’m writing a series of articles for a different audience. I’m creating the sort of culture I would wish to see in a company, by personal example and I am learning to programme all over again, but to create mobile phone applications and distributed ethereum applications, this time. This is a chance to progress my music production and to design fun products. Armed with these new super-powers, adding these to my already quite broad portfolio of skills, I’ll be better able to realise my ideas, innovations and dreams. I won’t need anybody else’s permission and approval and I can choose myself for success.
Reading is another important activity. Filling your head with new perspectives, approaches and ideas can be the rocket fuel that drives your reinvention. It can also help you feel less alone and singled out. What you begin to see is that you’re just the latest person playing out particular dramas and that there is good advice available. You don’t have to figure it all out yourself. There are people that wrote down their learning and it’s easily available in books. That’s like getting a helping hand.
Walking into a situation identical to the one that caused me such grief, simply to get a fast income stream, doesn’t seem wise to me. Repeating a mistake shows you learned nothing from it. It dooms you to repeat the pain. If I can avoid it, I’d like to do that. Ideally, to feel safe and secure again, you’d like to do everything all at once and take the fast track to success, but you’re human. You can’t. All you can do is fill your day with enjoyable, forward progress toward purposeful, meaningful goals and hope the rest will fall into place. There are some things you can control and some you can’t. Learning how to handle to difference is crucial.
Yes, it’s terrifying. Yes, there are people depending on me. That weight is enough to crush anybody, but you can’t let it stop you. The only viable option is to build a better future. Fortunately, better is always possible.
If you find yourself having to start again, take heart because nothing stays the same forever. Change is inevitable. You might surprise yourself at the good things to come. Sometimes, being denied what you wished for most fervently is the greatest stroke of luck you could ever receive. It’s just very hard to see that in the moment.
There are some very good resources here to help you get your act together: https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2017/07/22/adhd-survival-guide/amp/
The best antidote to pain is to try to have some fun and enjoy the process of reinventing yourself. Focusing on things you love to do is a pretty good way to accomplish that. It replaces the gloom with hope. You have choices to make and more freedom than before to make them. Grasp that gift.