Change is natural, it happens all the time. From the moment we are born to our last breath, we are changing. One day we are in diapers, the next we are graduating from college and paying our bills. So, yes, although it happens all the time, there’s still something about it that doesn’t sit well sometimes. The thing is that you have change and then you have reinvention. The latter sounds very daunting, but sometimes it happens to us out of the will of the universe.
I myself am going through a reinvention phase in my life. After 15 years in the museum field, I’m looking at what the next 15 years might look like. It’s scary because I got used to waking up every morning, getting dressed and heading in the same direction I thought I might head in for another 20 years…but then that changed and I had to make a decision for myself.
Initially, change is scary, it’s nerve-wrecking, it’s anxiety-ridden, it’s bad. But then, the dust settles, and you realize that this might be the best thing to have happened to you. At first, people might say cliché things to make you feel empowered like, “You’re so talented, anything you do will be great” but as cliché as it might be, it’s true! We are our own toughest critics, it’s good to listen to what others have to say. It takes a little bit of time to see what they see sometimes, but eventually it’s true, you discover that you are talented, that there are people out there who want you on their team, even if it’s not a team you thought you wanted to be on. And that’s just part of the equation.
“Initially, change is scary, it’s nerve-wrecking, it’s anxiety-ridden, it’s bad. But then, the dust settles, and you realize that this might be the best thing to have happened to you.”
A few days after my decision, I was sitting in a friend’s living room and he said to me: “It’s time to curate your own career.” Those words have stayed with me, because I realize that even if I get back on the saddle of familiarity, I have the capacity to get on the saddle I want. I don’t have to get back on the first saddle that comes my way. I also have realized that sometimes comfortable isn’t the best option. I’m keeping an open mind and heart to the opportunity of trying something new and challenging that will push me to continue to grow as a person and as a professional.
So what is the best route of action to take during a time of reinvention? Well, I’ve found that talking to as many friends who you trust and respect as possible is a great starting point. Mentors are also extremely valuable at this time. A good friend told me: “Make a list of the 10 people you respect the most and go talk to them first.” I took this to heart and did that right off the bat. The other thing to do is to look at your resume, what does it say about you? Is it full of professional but no personal accomplishments? I’m not talking about, “walked into Target and only spend $75” type of accomplishments, but meaningful ones. Have you volunteered your time and talents to a cause? Have you been on a panel? Have you moderated any conversations? Have you written your own blog? These are all really important things that tell the story of you. After all that’s done, you have to do some real, deep and meaningful soul-searching. What makes you happy? What inspires you? What would you do if money were no object? Answer those questions honestly and you’ll find your path.
I had a small voice in my heart and head that had been questioning things for years, but I ignored it out of responsibility. Today, I have the opportunity not to shut that little voice out, but to have a conversation with it. That voice is my intuition, it’s there to guide us and help us curate our own lives. I know that no one can really tell me what is going to happen, but I know that I can steer my own ship. I know that I can be happy and accomplished while still being responsible.
In the end, when you talk to successful and happy people, they will probably tell you that they really enjoy the work that they do. So, go ahead, make that list of people you respect and admire, look at the story your resume tells, and listen to that voice inside of you. Reinvention is an exciting and powerful thing — if you do it consciously and from within. I, for one, am welcoming the challenge with open arms — and an open mind.