There was a point in my life I realized that I was missing something. I didn’t have any reason to complain, I was successful, had good friends, stability but I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like my job, I joined the military when I had no other options. It was either this or never leaving my hometown and working in a factory. I did well in school but it wasn’t enough to get me into school, I didn’t want to be a slave to debt, slaving to pay back a loan for an education I may not use. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. In fact, throughout my career, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, I didn’t want to wear the uniform forever, but I never knew what I wanted to do. What was my true purpose in this life? What was my calling?
Needless to say, I was already doing it. I was the guy that people could talk to. Didn’t matter about what. I was the guy. I enjoyed it. It replenished me during a long trip at sea. Having my shipmates depend on me in this way.
At that time I didn’t know that it was an option.
Fast forward twenty years. I’m in a job I hate. It’s an atmosphere that didn’t agree with me, it made me sour and petty. What else would I do, that offered a similar lifestyle. I’m sure that is something that a lot of people look for, something, high-paying, benefits where you can invest in the minimal effort? When you think about it- there was nothing else?
I felt myself deep in reflection during night shifts. What’s to come next. I felt a need to start a new chapter, but there was a fear lingering, what other options were there? What could I do, that felt that I could be myself? Shedding this skin of my old life and beginning anew? The fear of failing and coming back to my old life with my tail between my legs, haunted by the idea of peers greeting me with their “I told you so,” - “ you couldn’t make it work” - “ you didn’t last long”.
The fear of failure hit me hard and I was scared. The last three years of my contract were by far the hardest stage. Light at the end of the tunnel, chains are broken and I would feel set free.. and then what? What would I do?
This is what I did:
* I reflected on what passion was for me. What are my dreams and aspirations? What was I good at? To answer that I surrounded myself with my trusted friends and family and asked for their ideas. They might see something I didn’t. In fact, that was when I had my eyes open to what my passion was-
* Is it sustainable? It is one thing to have a dream, talent or passion, it’s another thing to turn it into something I could use to support myself. What exactly would I do and why? Is it something that people would benefit from and would seek me out for?
*How do I achieve this? What do I need to do? Are there classes, schooling I would need to complete? What are the short-term goals I need to achieve my overall goal?
*Do I have enough saved to support myself while in school? Would I need a part-time job? Would I have had the time to devote to both school and my job? Where are my priorities? Would my loved ones support me in my endeavours? Would I be alone in this?
*What are my risks? Is this goal worthwhile? What would it mean for me?
I mentioned I was deep in reflection asking myself these important questions to better understand what I needed and how to gain it. Weigh the foreseeable risks to prepare me for the future. Plan for what I could plan for. Once I understood my own process, my fears went away, and I became more excited. It was no longer something I dreaded, I looked forward to my final days because I had something to look forward to, I found myself putting my ducks in a row, updating a resume that I haven’t touched in twenty years, collecting references, and I sent in an application for a school to become the thing I hoped to become. A counsellor. A person tasked with helping people with their problems and helping them through conflict maybe set their own goals.
It is possible that what worked for me in my own process might not work for all readers, but it is an endeavour that is worthwhile for those looking to take the leap and change their own lives. For the better or worse, those are terms are a matter of perception. It is all so different, change sometimes needs to happen, it is scary because it brings varying degrees of uncertainty. In my journey, this change of lifestyle allowed to the freedom to be myself more openly. That freedom allows me to show up more genuinely for those seeking my assistance, as a counsellor, I don’t think I was ever this happy, taking these steps to begin a new chapter.