Mama Bearings: Walking away to hold on

Summer is here! My kids are out of school for the next two and a half months, our air conditioners are working overtime and we’re at the beginning of Pride month.

This summer I will be transitioning job wise again, a decision that came after a lot of soul searching. I had been laid off during the pandemic, experiencing the financial insecurity so many of us still are, and searched for something for months upon months.

Interviewing for jobs is a skillset some of us struggle with — sharing your charisma, confidence and professional history in sometimes as little as 15 minutes is stressful, to say the least. Job searching is like trying to date on apps without the swipe option on your end; ghosting, poor communication and limited benefits are present in both. So, after months and months of interviewing, doing projects (do not do these, friends), and generally promoting myself nonstop, it seemed like a huge win when I found a full-time job.

My kids are older now and all but one work. I have assisted them with resumes, interviewing and all the things that come with looking for employment. Whether it is a job or a career, I have always told them to be themselves and work to live, not live to work.

I find this advice that I have not taken to heart myself. As eccentric and open-minded as I consider myself to be, I rarely look at my own personal happiness and satisfaction when speaking to work. But I encourage my friends and loved ones to find something where they can be their authentic selves, that they enjoy, and that they feel is aligned with their own beliefs.

I went back to school as an adult to not only further my education, but to achieve personal goals that had been put on the back burner as I focused on my family’s needs. I spent decades living my life within a sort of old school mentality that said working hard would lead to better and bigger things, and I still believe in working hard, but this is more aligned with who I want to be as a person verses the chance your work will be noticed and valued.

Sometimes, or most times in my experience, life gives us lemons and we make lemonade, or so we are taught to. I had become so used to making the best of a bad situation, that looking back on so many years, I was not making choices for myself in any way. I was raising my kids to be independent free thinkers who would find their own happiness, but was sacrificing my own in many instances.

We have all left jobs at this point. But this was the first time I stood up for myself and my beliefs and decided to leave employment over something I was protesting. I am 46 years old and I am starting to realize that my version of self-care involves speaking my mind, advocacy, and being in the environment that supports this for me not only professionally but personally.

For me, authenticity is therapeutic, attractive and mandatory. I am a fiercely supportive friend and parent, and yet I was holding on to the idea that making a choice for my values and my sanity was wrong. In this economy, we all have to pay bills and then some, so I did not take leaving a stable position lightly.

When my son came out as transgender at roughly seven, he taught my entire family and circle about authenticity and bravery. He knew who he was when most of the world was telling him he was something else. His experiences gave me a voice and a way of expressing myself while supporting others within the LGBTQ+ family.

I have always told my kids to be themselves and not to change for people, places or anything else, but I cannot say that I took my own advice to heart. Whether I thought I was being strategic with my finances, or not changing things in the effort to appear stable, I made a lot of choices that did not serve me.

I think in our younger years, society tells us to fit in and we strive to blend in at times because sadly not all attention can be positive. I do not need the spotlight, but I need to be valued. I cannot support people, places and things that do not support me — and yes, I am late in these realizations but I am sharing this because I would hate for anyone to waste their time. I recently lost a person who I considered to be my last parent, and to lose that unconditional love makes you look at your life and your time living it so far. Time is precious.

Speak out even if you are the only one, because it is important. Speak up because someone else who shares your opinions or feelings might not feel empowered to do so.

Stand out because no one is you and you are amazing. Leave the job. End the toxic relationship. Say no to things that drain your energy. Find your own joy.

Life is too short to waste time being unhappy and not being yourself. If my baby boy could do this, I owe it to him and the people I love to walk away from situations that do not serve me. We all do.

Sylvie Trevena is passionate about inclusivity, diversity, mental health and acts of service.. Outside of “mom,” she is most proud of being called a writer.

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