For ten minutes or so, we talked, the conversation approaching a level of intensity that was distracting in the quiet office. I mean, this was important. I had finally worked up the courage to ask if I could move the pretty purple orchid from the uninhabited desk on which it sat to the corner where I worked. Such a move required approval, and approval was contingent on the qualifications of my space–what I could bring to the orchid in its new position.
Orchids are tricky, you know. They need sunlight, but also need to be kept cool. They need to be watered consistently, but not regularly. When they bloom, they’re breathtaking, but they require just as much care in their ugly, dormant phase–then they come back as gorgeous as before, and sometimes with even more blossoms. Not one time in my life has anyone ever asked me if I was in the ideal place to grow.
Not one time in my life has anyone ever asked me if I was in the ideal place to grow.
I wanted this orchid because I needed something to care for at work, something beautiful to look at that made me happy to be at my desk. After a year of working there, I was starting to have violent panic attacks. I would stare at my computer screen, trying to look engaged and calm while my mind raced and my throat closed off. I became a master of getting through the day. I ate constantly. I sifted through my email inbox and made endless to do lists. I cried in the hallway, at lunch, on the way to work. I tried, but I was choking to death at my bright, white desk.
People are much like flowers. Under the right circumstances, they flourish and bloom dramatically. They go through phases where not much seems to be happening, and then they emerge again in full color. But without the right light, water, and soil, not much happens. They don’t take root. They grow limp and sickly yellow. They die.
The Best Worst Thing
I was losing it. And I was hating myself because frankly no one really liked working there, but everyone else seemed to have this ability to suck it up that I didn’t have. What was annoying or troublesome to them felt like anathema to me. I fantasized about getting hit by a truck so I could take a week or two off. My irritation seeped into working hours, and I tried to state my case to my supervisors. I was a tearful mess. My hours were cut to part-time, and then I was cut entirely.
I was so freaking happy.
I miss my desk. I miss my paycheck. I miss my coworkers and the days when work ran right into happy hour. I miss feeling like part of the team and ordering onigiri for lunch. I miss feeling like, by working there, I was worth something. That maybe I had done something right by landing this awesome job. Plants have the good sense not to grow if they can’t thrive.
Plants have the good sense not to grow if they can’t thrive.
The fact is, although I have the skills to work in an office I really shouldn’t. It just doesn’t suit me. I need to move. I need to work in short bursts. I need to set hours that accommodate my family, my side projects and my anxiety. I need the choice of whether to work with people or work independently.
Remembering What I Forgot
Oddly enough, my first love and what I really want to do with myself is teach yoga and Pilates. I’ve been a certified instructor for five years. But I forgot that I was a yoga teacher. I actually forgot. I went and had a baby and then started running low on cash and took the first job that came along and next thing I knew, I forgot that what I was supposed to be doing was living a life that I love.
Plants have the good sense not to grow if they can’t thrive. You won’t catch pineapples growing in New York City because they know that if they can’t have exactly what they want and need, there’s no point in putting down roots. They don’t waste their shot or their potential. They look for exactly what they need, taking it from the environment and settling for nothing less. And once the circumstances are right, they will root so strong that fifty years later, it’ll screw up a whole city sidewalk just because it can’t stop growing, not even for concrete.
We devoted a whole conversation to this orchid, and whether or not it was in the right circumstance to grow. Not one time in my life has anyone ever asked me if I was in the ideal place to grow. I realize I’m not the easiest plant to accommodate. But trying to grow in the wrong environment wasn’t working either. Every day, there are growing pains, but for once, it feels like I’ve got the right amount of sunshine, too.
Every day, there are growing pains, but for once, it feels like I’ve got the right amount of sunshine, too.
Jumping In Head First
After I left that job, I jumped into trying to fill my schedule to teach yoga and Pilates full-time. I signed up for training, set up a tax structure for my business, called every studio I knew, and enrolled in the Self-Employment Assistance Program through the Department of Labor. I’d be lying to you if I told you I don’t miss my paycheck or feel like a complete failure on a fairly regular basis. But working 10-15 hours a week, I now make about two-thirds of what I made on my full-time job. Best of all, it feels right. There’s no wondering where I’ll be in six months. There’s no looking over my shoulder. I still have panic attacks, but going to work actually makes them go away instead of being what caused them in the first place.
It is never easy to learn and accept who you are. I want so badly to be the woman who can rock out a nine-to-five, but I’m not. I will never have a big girl job. And that’s okay–or at least, the sooner I accept that and get to rocking out what I truly love and what allows me to be my best, the sooner it will be. My clients love me. My daughter is fed and I’m proud of myself. I sleep at night again. Every day, there are growing pains, but for once, it feels like I’ve got the right amount of sunshine, too.