Reverie

It’s been not even a month since I’ve quit the law, but I still feel that parts of the law are still with me. Because I started working right away, I haven’t had really a time to sit back and reflect on how my experience has been. Sure, I do it in the get-to-know-you calls with my current colleagues, but I don’t think I’ve truly debriefed what the law is and is not for me.

In truth, I will never know, but there are a few things that stand out. First of all the relentless pace of business to innovate and to succeed are even more pronounced once you get out of the legal world. What kind of stress it is, I do not know, but I do at least know that it feels more internally imposed than an external force I have to obey. And there is still a need to have a high quality of work, only the standards for judging it are different, and they come from you or the manager, not necessarily the client.

I think I would do better talking to more peers like this in the industry, being more honest about how it’s like for life after the law. I imagine that there is a growing period where we are simultaneously shedding our old identity while trying to grow our new selves. That can make the whole experience very jarring and very split. At least that’s how I feel now. On some days I feel the old urges come back, almost like an addiction, of who I was when I was a lawyer. The old ways of being anxious and a perfectionist. But some other days I feel more clear, and I am seeing a new part of myself, one that is more intrinsically motivated, more mindful, and more focused at the task at hand. Actually to think of it, whether or not I have changed at all or whether or not I am simply returning to my old joyful self is an idea that’s up for debate, questioning, or exploration.

We often go through life thinking that there has to be a goal to achieve. Often times I feel this too as I try to finish up an assignment or evaluate how far my projects have come. But then there are the rare moments when I remember to look up from my work and observe myself from a more objective standpoint. In that moment, the dread of the future falls away, the anxiety of the unknown fades, and I’m left with a sense of clarity that I need to do is to exist.

It’s been encouraging after a series of hard starts to finally make some progress on The Mental Arts. I hit a few bumps in the road with critique of my bumpy filming style, but I overcame that faster than I realized and now have a better sense of the standards when it comes to creating good content. Like it or not, my brain strays towards serving others, of seeing how they can benefit from the content. That is often done in sacrifice of myself, something that I need to watch carefully and love wholly.

It would be nice to have the same paycheck and the same amount of time, though I’m almost all the way there to knowing that this cannot be the case. At least, not with some luck and ingenuity along the way. As I have restarted this chapter of my life I get the feeling that I am more youthful than before, almost like the hands on the clock have been turned back though my body does not quite follow.

There are people now that I meet who walk the streets who I used to think we are brave but are now cowards. There are people who I thought were meek that are powerful beyond measure. There are those who I believed were starving who are full of joy and life and mirth; there are those who I believed had everything that in reality, have none. Such is the way my brain has shifted when it has come to perceiving the world. I walk the earth not knowing what is true or false.

 

Checking In: Life After Law

It might be good to write about what people want to hear, but once in a while, you gotta write to yourself.

I recently overhauled my site to make it more navigable for people. But I think in that rehaul I was thinking that more people would read it more. In truth, that has not happened, or so I think.

I’ve been trying to grow my side project, that of creating and doing more in martial arts. I also have a new non-law job, which once I fully feel that I have left the law, will simply be a job. I can’t wait for that day when it will happen.

It’s only been a week since I quit my law job but it might as well be a million years away. There are some old habits that I have yet to let go of like working all the time and letting my brain rest, but I am trying to change my behavior so that my mindset can follow. It’s been good to use tools like Slack and all else to communicate with people, but I also want to try to single task more next week so I can put all of my energy in one place.

I do not miss being an attorney. I do miss being able to walk down the hall and talk to someone, though I admittedly did not do that a ton either at my lawyer job. For the most part it is still to early to tell how I feel in this job, but it feels more right than usual. For that, I can be grateful.

Tomorrow, I’ll have a free weekend to do what I wish. And I won’t work because my brain needs some rest, and that’s within the company culture to rest. It’s going to be new, but it’s going to be nice.

 

Know How

I don’t write how-to articles. I don’t think that I will ever write articles like that, even if those are probably the best ways to get traffic to your site. You’ve seen them–numbered lists and all that.

The truth is that there is no easy way to achieve something. It really is about letting go of control and the need to force a certain outcome. In some ways, that is why I don’t like the practice of law. There is too much of wanting things to be a different way and then getting down about it because you couldn’t achieve a certain result for a client. For some people, this doesn’t bother them. But it bothers me.

That’s why I know I won’t be in the law long term.

I’m at a point in my life when I’m trying to decide what I should do. And sometimes there are days like these when I want to pick up my things immediately and quit. Then I have a moment where I realize that I still have to think a few things through before doing that. Maybe I do need more information on something. Maybe it does make sense to have more savings before I jump ship.

What I do know is that these thoughts are limitations to the true message I can sense in myself, and in my heart. In, as what Kyle Cease would say, whatever is making my heart beat at this time and what is making me alive. No amount of numbers in my bank account can compare to this feeling, which has served me well but has been shunned a little bit too much by me in the past.

I’m afraid to take the leap, but I must.

 

Into the Unknown

The weird thing about giving advice is after some time, you’ve got to start listening to it yourself. Whether it is to avoid feeling like a hypocrite or simply because it is coming from you, after a certain point all the heehawing about listening to your own heart has got to get you thinking.

That’s a little about how I feel about my future, lately. I have a lot of options before me and so many more thoughts, but it can be hard to get a handle on everything that is going on. And I think explaining it to someone else can be hard as well, because I’m not sure that I even understand it myself.

This blog hasn’t been updated much lately because when I enter into a period of intense transition, when I feel like I’m on the cusp of real change and opportunity, all I want to do right now is to stop and pause and meditate. I’ve been doing that more lately but I think it’s important to write and get my thoughts out onto the page.

I know that change is coming but I don’t know how or what direction it will take. And I’m fighting every impulse to try to rush the situation and to go in when my emotions at a high. There’s nothing wrong with making decisions on an emotional level, but there is something to be said about not reacting immediately to discomfort or an internal stimulus. Only when I feel really calm and centered inside do I think it makes sense to make a decision or leap. Even things like signing up for a tournament with no recent training experience, or going on a weeklong trip to Wyoming without knowing anything about what will happen, or even draining my savings to pay off my debt in one fell swoop at the end–these had reasoned steps to it and some planning involved. To be sure, I’m done with trying to play it safe and play it small, at least at this point in my life. But even bold moves require some prior thinking and reflection before they can happen.

I came to the conclusion last week that there are no right or wrong choices, only choices. That has been the most liberating thing about the whole experience, but also that leaves me with the fact that there are choices to be made. I can’t spend the entire time thinking about what needs to be done when it is a matter of executing on something. When it is a matter of doing, in addition to feeling and thinking.

I feel like sometimes I do too much of feeling when I can be thinking and too much of thinking when I can be feeling. The key is to try to bring those elements into a closer balance and harmony. That to me is the definition of alignment.

What to do now about my career is anyone’s guess. And it’s funny because I don’t really know what will happen in the end. I don’t really know if the opportunities that I’m feeling out are right for me. I feel like I need more information but I’ve gotten all the signs at least that where I’m headed is the next step. Not a right or wrong step, but the next step. Perhaps that’s enough. Perhaps that IS all I need, and I can’t recognize it yet.

You’re Not Alone

It’s been a little over half a year when I decided to take a short leave of absence from work. For Mental Health Awareness month I’m bringing back this entry that I wrote, privately, to myself on Google docs.

“You’re not alone.” If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone confides in you something that they fear or are ashamed of, chances are they want to know that they are not alone. Being alone makes you feel like it is somehow your fault that you are in a situation, but if we can see it as normal and part of being human, it somehow lessens the pain that we feel.

I’ve been in plenty of situations where I’ve had to say that to others, and to myself. I recently took the step of asking for temporary workplace accommodations for a short-term disability related to adjustment disorder. Adjustment disorder is a group of symptoms, such as stress, feeling sad or hopeless, and physical symptoms that can occur after you go through a stressful life event. For me, it’s a bit more than just feeling stressed on an one-off instance, and a little less than post-traumatic stress, but it’s a very treatable condition. For me, getting a new job, moving to a new city, having one of my cats suddenly pass away, getting married, and then working a tough schedule over months would be stressful events for any person on their own, let alone combined in my situation. It all just got to be too much. And so now, I’m looking to rest, adjust, and get a fresher perspective on how to manage stress.

It helped that the people I met along the way all responded with compassion and shared stories of their struggle along the way. And some shared the relief and happiness that came from finally taking steps to take of themselves. If I hadn’t been so lucky, I would have felt like I was all alone. But to have people say small things like they’ve been in therapy before or that they have felt anxiety too, it was good to know that I was not the only one. I am smart. Most people are, and can understand the logic that out of millions of humans, they are probably not the first ones who have had this type of struggle. Yet it is one thing to think about the idea abstractly and quite another to hear someone you respect and trust admit to their vulnerabilities. That is not to say that you must always share parts of yourself, and indeed that is not appropriate sometimes, but for the most part, showing that you too are human means that you are ready to lend that person a helping hand.

I’m always reminded of this story from The West Wing, one of my favorite shows. In this episode, Josh Lyman, struggling clearly with PTS(D) from almost being killed, is confronted by his boss Leo McGarry who sees someone in trouble. Leo tells Josh this story to let him know that he is here for help:

This guy’s walking down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can’t get out.

A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, “Hey you, can you help me out?”

The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up “Father, I’m down in this hole, can you help me out?”

The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a friend walks by.

“Hey Joe, it’s me, can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.”

The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not alone.