Photo by Tausha Ann Photography
A year ago I started packing up my office. I visited patients one last time. I rounded through clinic and the hem/onc floor, tying up loose ends and prepping the social worker who would cover my position. I had a month between giving notice and June 30, my last day. I told co-workers and loved ones I was giving myself a year to see what would come of these writing dreams.
Another leap of faith. Another unfurling, as I allowed myself to ask, "what if?"
Everyone wanted to know: was this the end of my social work career? what would I do if writing didn't pan out? was I going to stay in Nashville? To which I answered: I don't know, I don't know, and YES!
The last few weeks I've asked myself the same questions and my answers are still the same.
At times I wanted to say "this is merely a sabbatical." The truth is the truth, though. I really did quit my day job last June and I don't know if I'll ever go back.
While I know my efforts at the Children's Hospital made a difference, I don't miss it. Working there helped me settle a few things about the type of social worker I am and the woman I want to be. Those two roles turned out to be on the mutually-exclusive side.
I am best when I relate to clients one on one and can determine the type of clinical relationship we'll have. I am even better when I use therapeutic techniques within the context of personal relationships. (Please understand I am not acting as a counselor for any of my loved ones. I naturally ask questions and often listen in a way that lends itself to understanding.)
To that end, it's as hard for me to imagine working as a social worker again as it is for me to imagine never working as a social worker again. I am an amazing social worker. I am. I know where my gifts lie. Ideally, if I returned to social work, it would be part-time and likely bereavement-related. There would be no on-call.
But I'm a long way off from exploring that option. For now, it's enough to keep my license active.
My generation likes to explore callings and careers and creativity. We are not tied to one role or a lifelong job. We take risks and see what happens when we follow our dreams.
Which brings us to my purpose for this past year. What do I have to show for my nonconventional life?
That question has taunted me the last month or two, as I realized the anniversary date drew closer. What do I have to show for this year?
I'm tempted to say "nothing."
The pressure to have something to "show" for myself is hard to escape. I've learned to extend grace to myself, while continuing to press forward. And I'm learning to remember this grace and counteract any welling anxiety.
I get caught up in results or the lack thereof. I don't have an agent. I haven't started writing book number two. Some days I'm crushed by the lack of guarantees. I fret I haven't taken advantage of the hours.
Other days, I thank God for such a unique schedule. I nanny for an incredible family. Truly, I cannot sing their praises enough. I write during nap time and live out my calling as a caregiver the rest of the day. I've learned a lot about myself I wouldn't have otherwise learned. I laugh over my imagination's leaps and bounds. I remind myself a little fear shows me I'm on the right path.
I relish the written word. I don't regret my choice to pursue the writerly life.
Is it copping out to say I want another year to free fall? I don't like fixing deadlines for make it or break it decisions. I'm in a good place with a good routine and some pretty amazing things await.
For every self-inflicted taunt, God shows up. He winks at me with reminders of His own. I've received enormously encouraging emails from readers out of the blue. Writers I admire have affirmed my work. Friends ask about my progress. Unexpected opportunities seem to be falling into my lap.
The year's end does not look how I imagined.
The dream remains alive, however. And that's the best place to be.