I’m no longer a diplomat. Nor a civil servant. As of today, I’m just myself. No job, no income, no title. I cut very thick old ties that, in a not so distant past, I sometimes felt I’d never be able to cut. But I did.
If you asked me how, I’m not actually sure. Six years back just the mere thought of leaving my job – that seemed so noble and safe and achieved – would throw me into a fit of panic with hot streams of angst bubbling through my nerves and veins.
And now? There still is a bit of fear, occasionally. But I look at it like a fish from further down in the lake, from where the impact of a disturbed surface doesn’t reach. It took me years and years of introspection and searching and an ever growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. Eventually it became so unbearable that at some point in time I finally found it harder to stomach the thought of staying than that of leaving. I had reached a tipping point.
In a way my career change, or more correctly career suicide (as I don’t have a new career yet), reminds me of a realization during my material decluttering project: The most difficult part of decluttering is not the living without something but the preceding inner process of deciding to let it go. Once the decision of letting something go is taken the actual living without is just an after-fact, the natural external expression of an internal truth long found and integrated.
Turns out this also applies to career suicide: The process of deciding to leave a career is way more difficult and taxing than the actual parting with it. It’s ironic in a sense, because while I was in the deciding phase I always thought that the most difficult step was still ahead of me. I know now that I was in the most difficult phase right there and then, and what lay ahead of me actually was the easier phase of the two: A big relief, really. A liberation. The long-due throwing out of old garbage.
I have decided, as a first step, to gift myself with a sabbatical, a thought that I had been nurturing for quite some time without finding the courage to act on it. Part of the reason, a big part obviously, was the financial side of it. How should I pay for it?
Ironically, while I was deflating my lifestyle in order to prepare for my dream of one day living in a tiny house, I had also unknowingly created the perfect conditions for a sabbatical. I had cut down my belongings, moved to a smaller apartment to save on rent and continually reduced my living expenses to save an ever larger part of my income.
Eventually I had saved up enough to actually finance a tiny house. Or, as it turns out, a sabbatical (with some funds left for a much less fancy tiny home). I had a created a financial buffer, a security base, that opened a window of opportunity I previously didn’t have. The only bitter pill to swallow, really, is my having to postpone buying a tiny house for now. Then again, it’s not something I could currently realize anyhow as I’m still missing a major prerequisite: a piece of land. It’s not trivial if you want to live in a tiny house legally and safely, as anybody who has done the research will know.
So, as of today I’m living entirely off of my savings for a while, benefiting from a lot of unconscious preparatory work, internal and external. I’m going to use this precious time to restore myself, recharge my batteries, regroup and learn. I have a direction in mind. My polar star. My compass. It’s too early to tell. Suffice to say for now that I have discovered a new passion and interest a while back that’s exerting an irresistible attraction on me. It’s still pretty nebulous and vague. But that’s what have to work with.
In the meantime my only plan is to have no plan at all, except for simply treasuring my regained freedom and to live every precious day with only one objective: to do what my body and soul want to do, right here and now, and to follow the thread of my curiosity and energy to where they want to take me.
Instead of getting in life’s way I’ll let myself be swept away in it’s natural flow.