DEAR NATALIE: I’ve been working as a photo editor for a media outlet that’s full of Boomers with outdated sensibilities and inappropriate ways of treating people. I don’t make as much money as I believe I should, and I’m tired of being talked down to just because I haven’t worked in the industry for 40 years. As if the industry isn’t completely different than it was 40 years ago! I’m ready to make a change in my career and step into my power. I’m tired of associating with a brand I don’t believe in and want my work to feel more impactful. I’m ready to work for myself, even though I don’t know what that looks like. I feel my creativity being stifled and I’m losing touch with why I even came to love this work in the first place. How do I know when I’m ready to make the leap and leave this job? The landscape of my industry doesn’t make me feel secure enough to think that “the net will appear” – but I don’t know what push I’m waiting for, or how miserable I can stand to be before it’s time to start seriously looking at what it would like to work somewhere else, or start working for smaller businesses I feel more ethically aligned with. –NEED A PUSH
DEAR NEED A PUSH: The reality is that there is never a good time to make a leap. I left a job (with health benefits) right before the pandemic hit in 2020 because of horrific verbal abuse I experienced during a meeting from a manager. I thought, “I can’t do this anymore,” went home, had a panic attack and quit shortly after. No safety net. No idea of what was next. I have always had a plan and taking the leap to bet on myself was totally worth it. I’m now building two businesses and working with people I respect and value who also respect and value me. I completely know where you are coming from and encourage you to work on a plan. What would it look like if you left? I was able to make the transition because I had worked on side projects for many years and was able to cushion my jump. Let me be clear, it was enough to keep the lights on at the time – I wasn’t making a ton of money or anything, but it was enough to leave an abusive and toxic environment. There will always be a reason to stay. It is really scary to trust yourself. And maybe you have asked yourself… “What if I fail?” Instead I encourage you to try, “What if I succeed?” Make a plan. Network with businesses you want to align yourself with. Get it in action. Give yourself a timeline, stick to it and then just leap. Life is too short to be miserable.
DEAR NATALIE: I’ve been single for about a year and am loving it. No dating, no drama, lots of time to reconnect with myself and learn more about who I am and what I’m looking for in someone else. I’m taking my work and creative projects more seriously, and also am still pretty COVID-conscious, so I don’t mind being home a lot. In this time, most of my friends have entered serious relationships – even the ones who have always been “the single friend.” So I’ve been spending a lot more time alone, which I’m actually enjoying. I’m not isolating, but I know that a lot of my friends are less available than they used to be. But part of me worries that I’m losing my social life, or that one day I’ll wonder what happened to all of my friends. Part of me also feels left behind, like I’m being skipped over as my friends spend most of their time with a partner. Again, I’m not lonely, but I guess there’s some fear that one day I may wake up and feel differently. Am I worrying where I shouldn’t be? How can I stay connected to my friends, and still trust the place of anti-socialness that I’m in? – WANTS CONNECTION
DEAR WANTS CONNECTION: Do the people around you know how you feel? Have you expressed to your friends or colleagues, “Hey, I’ve been feeling a little lonely and isolated lately. Would you want to hang out?” I know it can be scary to be vulnerable, but the reality is that most people are going through their daily motions and aren’t cognizant of how time passes. Friendships are so important. Love is, too, but the most impactful relationship is the one we cultivate with ourselves. I’m proud of you for not being afraid to get to know yourself and what you want. Now that you have taken that time, it is natural to want to share life with others. Reach out. Plan friend dates. Make a point to do things where you feel safe – like outdoor activities or small groups in homes – while COVID rages on. As people age, they go through different phases, but you are allowed to be where you are. No one else’s timeline is yours and comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Fill your cup with what brings you joy – and if that includes more time with friends – let them know what’s on your heart. I assure you that they will want to spend time with you!
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