This post is a reflection of the post I made on October 9, 2022, which you can find here: Throwing the Bowl
I spend a lot of time looking at this post trying to figure out how to reconcile my decision to “throw the bowl” with a TikTok account that held a lot of promise for a while but petered out due to other priorities.
Then I remembered that the post was never really about TikTok: it was about deciding to leave a twenty-seven-year career at Starcom for what I thought would be a temporary role launching Working with Cancer, before it was an initiative and while we were thinking it would just be a campaign.
Just a month or two earlier, I had been making plans to go part-time; I was slowly coming to terms with knowing I could not continue my former pace of work if I wanted to stay well. But Working with Cancer required full-time focus. Juggling the new project with pitching wasn’t sustainable, and for a while, I figured it didn’t need to be, since the campaign was only intended to be a short-term gig.
In spite of this, it wasn’t long before I was asked to choose between one and the other. The choice itself was terrifying: the safety and stability of my current role versus a purpose-driven project on which I felt I was fumbling, and which held no certain future. So, I tried not to make it.
On Friday afternoon I was fighting to hold on; by Monday morning I was ready to let go, in part because I couldn’t shake the feeling that my choice had been made for me. By Tuesday, I heard about the candidate who was interviewing for my prior role. And by the end of the week, I was already feeling the confidence afforded by a new ability to focus versus trying to cover it all.
These days, when I think about my job, I pinch myself: years of pitching and encouraging prospects, teams, and individuals to pursue their potential—plus a few brutal years of working with cancer myself—prepared me for a role that today seems inevitable.
In retrospect, I can hardly believe how hard I fought against the perfect opportunity being dropped (quite literally, via email) into my lap.
But despite the clear alignment it offered, I didn’t know what would happen next—and, whether I would have a job at the end of the project; so instead of being open to it, I clung to my current life in the mistaken belief it would keep me in control.
Thank goodness it ultimately didn’t work.
Today, I am trying to make peace with the fact that I am now personally where I was a year ago professionally. The stress I am starting to feel as my five-year anniversary approaches is making it clear: I expected to be ending Strive for Five with some grand flourish—an announcement of all I have learned and what’s next.
I feel like I still have so much left to learn. And while I do have ideas—too many in fact—I am wary of making the commitment that comes with stating them: and I’m caught in the conundrum that both sharing prematurely or deciding not to share at all bear the risk of letting others down.
My coach points out that I have reached the point where I may be able to manage my feelings of personal failure, but disappointing others still triggers the pleaser in me. Even though I recognize it as a barrier to living my best and most authentic life.
“Being human requires so much ongoing work, patience, and evolution,” points out a friend and colleague.
She’s right. Being human is a chronic condition.
So, I’m back to throwing the bowl: acknowledging I don’t know what’s next—and what’s more, I don’t have control over it. As it was just one year ago, my future will find me. And I can only hope to have another year that has been as revealing and rewarding as this one.
Throw the bowl!