Spending a Year To Myself

Alone Time

Oh my gosh! I just realized it’s been just over a year that, for a lot of reasons, I simply decided to step away from the world I once knew. It is a moment in time that I will never forget.

A day when all of my societal conditioning went up in smoke. A loving relationship with my mom that slipped away from me as she drew her last breath. A sense of family, immediately severed by a jealous father and brother. A sense of history, destroyed as my father tossed my mother’s cherished items into a pile out in the yard she loved. A sense of peace shattered by not being told where her cremated remains were buried.

A few days later, a sense of belonging to another, in a relationship with someone who I truly cared about for many years, slipped over the side of the mountain as well.

The one thing I still had was my job, but there were industry storms blowing through.

It was all just too much. And I walked away. I didn’t really have a choice. Where did I go?

Well, I didn’t have a friend with benefits on-hand. Fortunately, I suppose, I had a friend with issues that appeared and offered one of the most important human offerings, which is friendship. The kind that says, “If you are going down in flames, I’ll tag along too.”

After moving to a new place, I continued to do the basics. Try and eat right, get enough sleep, and force myself to have a little fun, even when I didn’t want to. I scoured Netflix, catching-up on all of the movies I had always wanted to see when I was far too busy in the old life. I also discovered just how cool National Geographic Channel really is with Life Below Zero and One Strange Rock.

How about the career front? I mean, the job still going strong through most of the storms of last year, to some extent. Well, not so fast. The industry has been facing some tough headwinds for a number of years. The playing field today is very different from 2011. I have seen so many people, especially the good management team members I worked with forced into early retirement or pushed out of the door. Their replacements are painfully insecure, lacking experience, interpersonal skills and in many cases, absent of any ethical standards.

This year, following the deeply personal experiences of the previous one, things are much different. Life is much different. I am different. My most recent fortune cookie said, “Keep the Focus.” I have a few goals in mind and the people and jobs of the past are no longer a part of the picture moving forward.

Life can present tough challenges. They are never much fun when they first appear. Sometimes, they seem to linger. I have learned they can be your best friend. In the end, you might come to realize (as I have), they can be some of the greatest gifts you ever receive. Learn from them. Become stronger. Allow yourself to grow.

Author: James Patton

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