For some people curves are a two way street. They go backward or forward. But for me, it has never worked that way, not successfully anyway. Whenever I’ve attempted to put my life in reverse, I’ve run into roadblocks that have forced me to stop, reevaluate, and ultimately, put the car in drive again. (It only took me a few times to learn this, I swear.)
This happened in 2009. I was 6 years into my business and I thought things were going pretty well. I had a small but reliable group of client regulars and steady copywriting work. Life was a-okay.
Oh, a quick thing about me… I’m intentionally tunnel visioned about most current events or what used to harmlessly be called “the news” when I was growing up. Unfortunately “the news” has evolved over the years into toxic propaganda and honestly, I have better things to do with my attention. But sometimes my selective attention toward the outside world backfires.
Back in 2009, with economic embers raining down from the sky in an epic national forest fire, with no mortgage nor a 401K, I was blissfully unaware.
All I knew was that my business had ground to a halt and I had no idea why.
I panicked. And panic makes you grab for the most familiar, stable object you can find. I needed to piece together a living outside my writing business. Looking forward to something new and untested felt too risky. So I looked backward in my life to the most secure way I’d ever made a living – before office work, before temping, before waitressing. I hit the rewind button and held it all the way back to where my adult career life had been born 12 years earlier – nursing.
I was drowning and returning to nursing seemed like the most reliable life preserver.
In short order, I enrolled in an RN re-certification program at the local community college, bought the textbooks with all the familiar names, powered through hundreds-of-pages-long reading assignments, nursing care plans, and classes.
Just like I’d always done as “the good student” growing up, I set my sights fully on the goal at hand – be a nurse again so I wouldn’t starve and be homeless. In this mode, self-awareness, introspective questions, and pondering went right out the window. When a goal was in my cross hairs, there was no time for thinking – only action. This approach was usually quite effective for me.
Except this time, something wasn’t right.
It felt like I’d stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone, where everything seems the same at first but then the person realizes it’s a parallel world and they have absolutely no business being there. It hit me one day in class when the instructor said, “Now, when you’re a nurse on the floor, you’ll encounter situations like this…”
Something snapped in my head as I realized – “But I KNOW this! I’ve already BEEN a nurse on the floor!”
Followed a second later by, “… and I HATED it!”
Sitting there in that classroom I felt like a grown-up trying to squeeze into a baby swing. I was trying to relive a part of my past that was long gone. I felt silly.
On the next break, I got up and left and never looked back.
It’s up to you to figure out the rules of your own life curves. But for me, curves only run in one direction – forward.
PS: My memoir The Power of the Curve is now available in paperback & Kindle formats – get your copy!