“Everything is changing and I’m about to fire the majority of people in my life.”
I mumble a variation of the above sentence three times in one day. The first is loaded with frustration. In the second, sarcasm is wedged between each word. On the third, the phrase slips past my lips, peppered with amusement.
It’s a statement I’ve thought long and hard about before finally uttering.
The sentiment behind the outburst has been festering for a good four months—induced by relationship discord in all parts of my life. I’ve had my share of character clashes in the last two years, sure, but these days, I’m undergoing an all-out assault. If it could speak, I’m pretty sure 2018 would have said the following on January 1st,
Hey JoAnna! Guess what? There’s going to be a lot of professional upheaval in your life. You’ll feel discomfort regarding some deeply personal choices because you’ve been sitting on the fence too long. Jump off and stop stalling. There’s no time to delay. Also, it’s in your best interest to don your chain mail, pull up the drawbridges, and unsheathe your sword.
Because I’m about to throw a ton of relationship strife your way.”
Everything changes. Nothing stands still.*
With regards to work, I constantly field emails and spend entire mornings on Skype trying to understand what is requested. I seek clarification here. I offer advice there. I try to figure out thoughts, needs, as well as agendas. Yet, time and again I hit the adjoining walls of confusion and irritation. A lot of people are out to lunch, don’t know how to use their words, or are purposely deceptive. It’s to the point where I reach the end of the day ready to send my fist through a wall.
There is nothing permanent except change.
Someone I haven’t heard from in years sends an email asking for a favour. They don’t preempt the request with a “Hey! How are you?” or “It’s been a long time! What’s going on?” Similar things happen with a former colleague on Facebook and acquaintance via Instagram. A surprising, unwanted, message arrives on my phone from someone I’d prefer to never hear from again. (How did he get my number?)
I make time for the honest appeals and bookmark the others, feeling a touch of guilt about sidelining the rest. Eventually, I get over the remorse—I’m not Shiva after all.
All entities move and nothing stands still.
Sweat pours from my face as a boxing coach I know (but don’t work with regularly) wraps my hands and starts torturing me, rigorously, with the punch mitts. He tells me I’m not tired. I curse him in my head. He says, “One more round” as I gasp for air.
Swinging hard and fast, I yell so loud my battle cry echoes off the mirrors. It bounces off the wall, floor, and suede canvas of the ring. At that moment, it occurs to me I am throwing a controlled, adult tantrum.
And it feels like the best goddamned thing.
The outburst was a long time coming. I had arrived early at the gym to work with someone who didn’t show. And while it was the first time such an oversight happened regarding that person I still heard the snap of the straw when it broke across the camel’s back. The butterfly effect isn’t fiction.
Nothing stays and everything flows.
I haven’t always been so indulgent and accommodating but, hey, what can I say? Holding grudges is tiring, as is shouldering drama. I’d rather see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff. It’s hard to make progress if you cling to bitterness, trauma, and hatred.
It took me a long time to get here though—a place where I vibrate on the level. There’s plenty of miscommunication and it is exhaustive to adapt or yield to the whims and beliefs of others who are unable to recognize your value or aren’t interested in investing in your future. The thing is, while I know I can get a lot done in a vacuum I prefer having an army when going into battle.
It is possible to connect intimately with others (and give/receive support) even if we don’t share the same goals or final destinations.
Change. Every single thing has a season: success and failure, careers and money, happiness and grief, love and relationships too. Transitioning and taking a leap—regardless of how large or small—involves surrendering to the reality in the moment and overriding the fear of advancing into the unknown.
And letting go is hardest, I know it is, when it comes to people—there are emotional attachments to untangle and narratives about ourselves to rewrite. But if we hope to one day be aligned with better allies we have to make room and place heads on the chopping block. Orchestrate the culling.
There is a time for everything. No one else is going to do the heavy lifting.
The only constant is change.