The year is 1995: I have just completed a Masters Degree in English Literature. I have a brand new career and some hefty challenges in life: like how to get high school kids to write complete sentences; and the biggest of all, how to get them to appreciate Shakespearean Sonnets. I have endless papers to correct, lesson plans to write, school-loans to pay off, and I am utterly miserable.
It didn’t take long before I began to hear voices. And it usually happened when I was sitting in a drafty hallway watching out for kids cutting class (that was my teaching duty). At first the voice whispered to me: Is this what six years of college will get you? Then it began to speak up loud and clear: You have to leave.
I’d been hearing this voice for some time, but I had not wanted to turn up the volume. I rationalized:
- Isn’t it normal to sometimes feel utterly miserable in your job?
- Doesn’t everyone at some time experience a profound boredom at work?
- And didn’t wanting to leave my career smack of a downright fickleness and an absence of a stick-with-it-ness?
It’s not easy to listen to the voices in our head, especially when they threaten the secure life we’ve set up for ourselves. After all, there are bills to pay, and the expectations of family and friends. And let’s not forget that regular paycheck and health insurance. Losing all of this terrified me more than anything, but what gave me the shudders was that sinking feeling I got at 6:30am when my alarm screamed: time to go to work!
I felt this way for a whole year, and then something wonderful happened: I got laid off due to budget cuts. The decision was made for me, and I found myself free to explore new career possibilities. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I would have deliberately left of my own accord. You see, I didn’t know back then what I know now—that those voices were steering me towards the life I was meant to live. What I didn’t know was that listening to them would set me free.
You can tell when you’re not listening to the voices in your head. You may feel depressed, nauseated, or just plain numb. Your body gets sick easily, you feel disconnected, and JOY evades you big time. But more than anything, you will feel imprisoned.
Just like the pain in your jaw alerts you to a bad tooth, those voices are there to tell you that you are headed in the wrong direction.
Changing direction is not easy, and indeed to turn back to “the road most traveled” may seem like the easy way out. You may be fooled to go back to your old familiar life. But like an old friend, those voices will come back to remind you, to steer you yet again to your right life. That’s their job.
When you’re on the right path, sure you’ll feel scared and challenged, but you’ll also feel free, unshackled, clean, and ALIVE. Don’t worry if you’re not ready to turn up the volume just yet. There’s no hurry. No pressure. All in your own time. Your right life will always be waiting for you, no matter what.