Today I am proudly celebrating my retirement as a Federal employee. For the last 25 years, I have worn the badge of a member of the Intelligence Community yet, last Wednesday, January 31st, about midday, I turned in my badge and any other credentials and was escorted out of the building as a “regular” person. Kind of anti-climactic, actually. Throughout the morning as I visited who I could for the last time to say my goodbyes, I felt the emotion of the day building but I held it in, not wanting to break down in that space. The woman that walked me out (yes, I required an escort) asked me how I was feeling and though my feelings were mixed, I knew that excitement was definitely at the top of the list. I had finally come to the culmination of YEARS of feeling misplaced, DISPLACED, locked up and just down right unfulfilled. Don’t get me wrong. I arrived at the realization at some point that working for the Government was probably one of the best things that could have happened to a “multi-interested,” at times indecisive and much too easily bored personality like mine. I was able to do some exciting things, learn quite a lot (the Government offers AMAZING training opportunities!), travel and have overall great exposure to things I otherwise would not have been exposed to. I’ve taken a few of days to let things sink in — get some rest after spending an average of 12-13 hours a day commuting between Maryland and Virginia for work — and just try to get my head on straight as I stand on the threshold of the future that’s now open before me.
To address my lack of professional fulfillment, I realized recently that with all the things I’ve done and jobs I held, I never really built a career. For various reasons, often when I was able to identify a path that I wanted to pursue, it wouldn’t work out for one reason or another. Reasons such as someone else had been identified for a position, the organization was going in another direction or changed in some way, making my choice(s) unavailable. Working for the Government, the Intelligence Community in particular, was a lot like working in the military where leadership pretty much controls the movement of the workforce and removes the “freedom” that I would have needed to find the satisfaction that alluded me. As a result, I moved from job to job, some better than others, but none were ever ideal. Admittedly, I can’t put the blame completely elsewhere because organizations do what they are intended to do. The Intelligence Community has the very specific role of protecting the national security interests of America and everything that it does is in pursuit of that mission. I personally just was not the best fit for it in terms of my own natural skills and abilities, interests and passions. I learned over the years that people are my strength and, though I was always counseling, mentoring, advising and even scolding, it was never in an official capacity and therefore never anything that I was paid to do.
No More Imposterization!
What am I saying? It’s SOOO important to know one’s self. What you’re good at, what you’re willing to accept, the right environments to nurture your instincts and abilities. I cannot state that enough! Far too often, we all do what we have to do to get a paycheck and earn a living and our real selves get buried under years of filling the roles and expectations of other people. Can we say imposters, boys and girls??? As I was just being myself, I realized after too many years that the help that I provided to others was something that I could have made a career out of. The responsibilities of being a wife and mother, combined with full-time employment and all of my other obligations made the thought of completing a master’s degree more than I wanted to tackle, or pay for, honestly! I am so blessed to be in a position now, however, to peel back the layers of all the years of acting and being someone other than my true God-created self and I am diving head first into the person and purpose that He intended for me. I have to say that there has been some safety in doing what was expected of me and not having to figure out all the details and the idea of doing so now is a little daunting. I will, however, as I’ve heard someone say “do it scared” and figure things out along the way as I gain the clarity that I need to take one step after another. I have adopted a motto for myself that I encourage anyone else to adopt as well: “NO MORE IMPOSTERIZATION!” Yes, I made up a word but it so perfectly captures my feelings on this particular subject which for me has been an ongoing and active state of being that has literally caused me to feel like parts of me have been dying along the way. I am so aware of time these days, certainly as a result of getting a little older. There is so much that I want to see and accomplish, lives that I want to impact and time is not a promise! I encourage everyone that reads this to find your passion and then pursue it with everything that you have. Go all in this year clear goals ahead of you to keep you on your path knowing that your purpose is on the other side, wherever and whatever that may be, waiting for you to arrive. I heard an awesome description recently of the difference between being buried and being planted. Though they initially look very much the same, being buried is a permanent state while being planted is the beginning of something new. After the darkness of planting, with the proper care and tending, a seed eventually becomes the full potential of everything that was contained within it to produce something beautiful, fragrant, fruitful or maybe all of those things. Don’t let your dreams die because you fail to feed and water them. Someone else is waiting for you to produce what’s in you so that they can live and your fulfillment is in the realization of those dreams!