I Take My Life in My Hands
“When everyone else is going left, you’re going right but you find a way to get the job done.” – My First Boss
I’ve never lived my life out of line of what made sense to me at any given time. In this way I’ve landed myself in a boiling pot of water more than once in my life and I know that I will be in that same pot many more times in the future. I am okay to behave well in so much as I will stand in line, but I may face a different direction. I can get in the flow of your river, but I may be swimming upstream. As much as I was diametrically opposed to the rules and regulations set upon me by my first boss, I do believe he saw me for who I was and in his frustration to have me show up and behave in a certain way he had to concede that I found a way to make it work without his rules. Thus, he finally promoted me.
When I was younger I took pride in being a little goody-two shoes. I didn’t want to participate in any vices such as drinking, smoking, partying, dating, etc. and I held onto that with a sense of self-righteous superiority. I came to realize that how I choose to spend my time isn’t as much about good behaviour as my attitude, opinions and relationships were. I lived in perpetual resistance of authority and timelines in the sense that I wasn’t interested in learning things, completing tasks or fulfilling obligations that didn’t make sense to me. I knew what was of personal value to me and anything outside of that wasn’t worthy of my time. While I could have been an A student I found myself unable to put my energy and effort into anything that, from my perspective, didn’t serve me and so I had a lifelong battle with teachers who saw my potential but were frustrated that I applied it so selectively.
As I moved into the work force I noticed myself developing a pattern: there was value in learning the rules inside and out. It was good to know the process like the back of my hand. It was beneficial to do things as they were designed because once that way of operating was mastered it left room for improvement. Through this I learned to use my voice for what I thought was important: the treatment of staff by management, the wages, the breaks, the amount of shifts required to work, the unspoken expectation to work late and for free, being short staffed consistently and underappreciated for pulling through when shit hit the fan. I wanted to advocate for everyone I worked with who was afraid that there were going to be consequences if they spoke up about their needs. I felt compelled to rock the boat.
These days I am navigating being self-employed and there is a part of me that speaks out in fear and calls me to go back to the corporate work force to make a salary, collect benefits, do my duty to add to someone else’s bank account and try to build my life on someone else’s timeline. I got used to powering through life alone and felt my own path to stability was to continue to climb the corporate ladder so that I could prove to myself and others that I had “made it,” as if my salary meant something to anyone, as if my title have me significance, as if on my deathbed I would somehow be proud that I didn’t share my voice, story, wisdom and art with the world. In a way the meaning of good behaviour has shifted from not having vices to keeping my mouth shut, my head down and fulfilling obligations to suit someone else’s agenda.
In this way I boldly choose to fulfill my goals, ambitions and to keep expanding my dreams as I move forward in my life. I will carve through rock, I will swim through oceans and I will climb mountains. I will not ask permission.
Written by: Sandra Barnhart