Truth at the Edge

In high school, I really enjoyed my bioethics class. So much I took it again for another year. Then I pursued both a biology and a philosophy degree in hopes to create a bioethics background by combining the two studies. I had my head down through college and pursued both degree plans. It wasn’t til my last semester of college that I blinked, looked up, and said to myself, “I actually don’t want this.” It took getting very close to graduating undergrad to realize I did not want to get a graduate degree in Medical Ethics.

Some years and two jobs ago, I walked away from a career without a back up plan. I had worked at it for so long with blind abandon. I found it fulfilling. I loved the relationships I was building with my patients as a clinical research coordinator. There was room to grow. But I ignored the gnawing that this wasn’t for me. After I finally was brave enough to acknowledge that three years was a good amount of time to know when something doesn’t feel right, I walked away without a back up plan. I exhaled, jumped, and flailed all the way down.

On my way down from that leap of faith, I grabbed the next job path that came to mind. I reflected that I liked my previous work during college as a program leader for a summer camp for at risk children. I did a great job commanding attention from the kids and thrived. So again, I put my head down, threw down money, and started to get certified to be a teacher in Austin. I studied, went to classes, tested, and got my certification. It wasn’t until then that I looked up and thought, “No, this isn’t it either.”

Sometimes it takes me getting to the very edge of something, my nose nearly touching that goal, before I finally open my eyes and acknowledge an inner truth. This isn’t it. Walk away. I’ve never regretted walking away. I’m not one who walks away lightly when it’s something I’ve actually committed myself to. I put blinders on in my commitments. I suspect it’s a mixture of love and dedication but also the fear of facing a scary truth. I didn’t want to look up during college, because if not bioethics then what? I didn’t want to look up mid-career because if not this career, then what? I didn’t want to leave my last relationship, because if not this man, then whom?

I’ve been hard on myself for not reading the signs in my life until I get to the very edge. But today, I decided to exhale. And be glad that I’ve always managed to walk away before losing myself. Even when it’s scary. Even after all I’ve invested. Maybe it’s okay to get as close as I can to the edge. Maybe that’s when the truth is the clearest.

photo credit: Thomas Chen Photography

  • lisasyarns

    I definitely applaud you for walking away from things that didn’t feel right because I think it’s usually a little easier, at least from a short-term perspective, to continue to go with the flow versus putting on the breaks and making a big change. But it’s hard to make those big changes when you have invested as much time into them. So kudos to you for being so brave.

  • This is such a beautiful post, Linda. I agree with Lisa – it takes so much guts and bravery to realize what you thought you wanted, what you invested your time or effort or money into because you thought it was the right path, isn’t actually what you want, and to move on. I’m very inspired by you. <3

  • Oh. This. A thousand times this. I’ve walked away from some big things and made life changing decisions quite often over the years, including walking away from my job in the liquor industry at the end of last year. It can be scary, but I’ve never regretted leaving something behind if it wasn’t working for me!

  • Melissa Maris

    One man’s edge is another’s beginning, right? At least you didn’t realize you didn’t like it 10 years into doing it for a living! It can be so scary to heed those little voices that steer us, but kudos to you for doing it – even if it felt a little late. Sometimes you have to keep going down one path to double and triple check that the voice is right. Keep listening and you won’t go wrong. :)

  • I watched Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech this morning and he said something that fits here, I think. He talked about making sure you what you love; how you need to keep looking and never settle. Even if you wait til the Edge to decide to keep looking, at least you’re still looking. :)

  • tomfromhr

    Beautiful post, Linda. Stepping away like that is very brave, and you should be proud of yourself for that.

  • San

    I haven’t walked away too many times, but I can definitely relate to your way of thinking…

  • breethethingsweread

    I’m very much so like you, walking away when you’re very deep into something. It’s hard. It takes a lot of thought and bravery. Some people desparately want to have the courage to walk away but only dream and imagine the possibility. It takes a rare breed to actually do it. Good luck. Keep changing and following your instincts.

  • Beautiful post, Linda. And very well said. I’ve dealt with situations like this too, and it’s definitely not easy. But don’t be hard on yourself. It’s better to realize something that’s not right for you at the last minute than to ignore it and have regrets later. <3

  • I’m not the “walking away” type, so I really admire that you do. I think that by waiting until you’re on the edge, you can appreciate more once you’ve made that leap in the other direction. :)

    • I think this a good inference. You may not know what it feels like past that point of calling it quits, but you know enough that you wouldn’t be happy. That saves you time and worry of wondering “what if”.

  • MJ

    I think you are on a good track. Don’t settle until you are happy. At least you tried and know that path is not for you.

  • What an admirable approach. I’m going through the same phase of uncertainty and limbo. The difference between you and me is that you push yourself far enough that something isn’t right. And then you act on changing your career path. Many people, such as myself [guilty as charged!], get complacent and sell out. As I learn more about what I do, I hope I remain honest with myself, so that I could live my life to its fullest without any regrets.

    Again, I commend you.

    Also, yay! A fellow Texan! We’re only ~3 hours away, haha.

  • Ashley J

    I think it takes a lot of practice to learn how to be true to ourselves, especially because we’re brainwashed pretty young to follow the track. Going off track takes guts, even if it’s last minute.

  • Vishy

    Beautiful post, Linda! You are an inspiration in the way you have repeatedly re-invented yourself. I totally loved the last two sentences of your post – “Maybe it’s okay to get as close as I can to the edge. Maybe that’s when the truth is the clearest” – very profound and beautiful.

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