By: Shannon Ralph
I am sucker for an inspirational quote. Perhaps it is the girlie girl in me. Or maybe the sentimental idiot. Regardless, I am a huge fan of inspiration. Oprah is my spiritual guide. Dr. Phil is my pontiff. Yes, I am one of those people. While perusing a magazine yesterday, I came across this doozy:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Had I been actively searching, I could not have found a better quote to describe my current life situation. At this moment, my entire livelihood is up in the air. With three young children to care for, Ruanita and I both recently quit our jobs. Before you think we’ve lost our minds, I have another job that I will be starting on October 10th. Ruanita is taking some time off. We are calling it her sabbatical.
Years ago, when Ruanita and I first met, she was in graduate school in Kentucky, pursuing a Master’s degree in mental health counseling. Her goal was to be a therapist. Being taken in by my undeniable charms, she left school and moved to Minnesota to be with me almost fourteen years ago. Since that time, she has finished her Master’s degree. However, for reasons that probably have a lot to do with me and the three children living in my house, she never got her therapist’s license. Fourteen years later, she has yet to fulfill her dream of being a licensed therapist. That is about to change.
Just when you get comfortable with your life —with your routine— you get thrown for a loop. I am a firm believer that these life-altering loops almost always result in a better situation. A happier life than the one that you were so comfortably living.
After six years of Ruanita and I working opposite shifts, she was informed a few months ago that her position at her company was being phased out. Her entire team was being phased out. Perhaps in a month, perhaps in a year. There was no real way of knowing. There were other positions she could apply for within the company, but most of them did not interest her. The few that did required that she be a licensed therapist. Rather than waiting around to be laid off at some indeterminate time in the very near or moderately far-off future, Ruanita quit her job.
Of course we discussed her decision at length in advance of her quitting. Being lesbians, we processed the hell out of the situation. In the end, we decided that we could afford for her to take off work for a year to study for the National Counselor’s Exam —it has been ten years since she opened a graduate school book— and hopefully ace it on the first try. She would then be in a much better position to go back to her company or another company as a licensed therapist. She could even open her own private practice if she so chose.
Our only concern was insurance coverage while she was off work. I had been working part-time for a small company with no benefits since my twins were born. I decided to go to my employer and ask them to hire me full-time. They were short-staffed, but were strapped for cash to hire an additional full-time employee. I thought hiring me full-time, since I already worked 30 hours a week, would be a win-win situation. I was wrong. They refused to hire me full-time, saying there was no money in the budget for another full-time position. So…I was screwed.
Against my will, and against everything that I was comfortable doing, I went about the task of looking for a full-time job. I had not worked a full-time job in six years. I had not typed up a resume. I had not been on an interview. I had been out of my field of expertise for six years. How in the hell was I going to find a decent paying job?
As is often the case, when I step outside of my comfort zone and allow life to take its course, miraculous things happen. Through contact with a previous coworker, I was turned on to a job that I would never have known about otherwise. I applied for the job with the encouragement of my coworker. To my utter amazement, I was offered the position with a wonderful company being paid considerably more than I was making when I left work to have my twins.
The position is a leadership position. Stepping onto a team in the midst of an overhaul. The manager wants “new blood”. New leadership. Someone with a positive attitude. Someone innovative. The expectations are higher than I would normally feel comfortable with. It’s going to be challenging. This position will force me to step far outside of my comfort zone. Am I scared? Yes. Am I freaking terrified? Yes. Do I doubt my abilities? Yes. At the same time, however, I am exhilarated and thrilled and thoroughly excited. How do I know what I am capable of doing if I don’t step outside of my comfort zone?
This is a new chapter in my family’s life. Everything has changed within the course of the last couple of weeks. Ruanita and I are no longer working opposite shifts. For the next two weeks, we aren’t working at all. We are slowly getting used to one another again. Invading one another’s shifts. Intruding on one another’s routines. Acclimating ourselves to parenting as a team again, rather than de facto single parents five days a week. I have to say, it has been amazing.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
And it’s a pretty damn fabulous life.