“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
About a year ago I found myself in a dilemma that challenged me more than I ever thought possible. I had realized some major red flags in an organization that I had poured myself into for the last decade. To say that I was emotionally and professionally invested in this place would be an understatement. What’s worse is, I recognized my own part in the injustice. This ate at my core.
Lying on the floor of my proverbial “rock bottom” I found myself incapable of making a decision that wouldn’t end in devastation. Do I stay tight lipped and keep my friends and (safe to say) family, or do I speak up and potentially loose relationships that were pivotal to my identity? At the time I remember thinking, “if my life were a movie, this would surely be my climax.”
I was stuck.
I stayed in limbo for quite a while, secretly hoping that someone would tell me what to do, hiding from the reality that I was the one who was in the driver’s seat. Weighing the facts became a constant game I’d play with myself and depending on the day (and tea leaf reading), I flip flopped. Never able to find my footing in the happy place I call “The Nice Zone”. “The Nice Zone” is that warm and comfy place where we’re pleased with ourselves for making nice with everyone we care about. “The Nice Zone” was a place I was well accustomed with. I practically lived there.
Ironically (or perhaps exactly as planned), I found my footing from a sign that hung in the very organization I was dwelling over. Hanging on the wall in the room that I helped create, for a program that I so believed in, hung a sign (that I made) reading:
“The wrong thing is still the wrong thing, even if everyone’s doing it
The right thing is still the right thing, even if nobody’s doing it”
As if it were a blanket wrapped around me, the feeling of warm and comfy rushed back. Only this time I was not in “The Nice Zone”. Yet to be named, this place is one of personal integrity. My understanding was clear, my mind unclouded: on my standards based on my unique life views I was no longer willing to participate in this organization. That’s all. Just me and my decision. No radical sweeping changes were made, no town hall meeting to announce my decision. I drifted out and stepped back into the unknown with a profound sense of calm.
Personal integrity is just that – personal. When we guide our decisions with our own moral compass we loose the need for validation from others, because their “true north” is uniquely their’s. I had foolishly and perhaps boastfully taken the responsibility to whistle blow on issues that for a multitude of reasons, were clear as mud. Not only did I let go of the need to please others, I let go of the need to change their minds to match mine.
When we step into the drivers seat of our own lives we can see that we’re all coming from, and going to, different places. Our job is to determine our definition of what’s right and wrong and move through life accordingly.
If I had to go back I wouldn’t change a thing. I am who I am from where I’ve come from and I am deeply grateful for the time I spent with this organization. I still take visits to “The Nice Zone” as my sense of self-confidence peaks and valleys, but I never lost the sense of calm I established when I decided to rely on myself. Now I know that if my life were a movie, this is only the beginning.
With Love & Happiness,