May 28, 2004

I find myself at a crossroads today. One stage of my growth is completing and opportunities for the next stage are making themselves known. Where to go from here is now the most important though that fills my days.

Four years ago I made the choice to return to Illinois, the place of my childhood and most of my adult life. Illinois has always been home for me. The two and a half years away from Illinois were filled with wonderful growing experiences. I needed the lessons being away from home for the first time held for me. In talking with Michele the past day or so about my motivations, I have finally come to realize that the whole time we were away from here I was missing home.

Being back here has allowed me to repair the relationship with my brother, and has allowed me to put my parents into an appropriate light. I have come to understand that my struggles with authority figures stems from frustration about my relationship with my father. I have amended my perception of my mother and I have let go of much of the anger I once held for her.

What is becoming clear to me now is that I have three paths to chose from going forward. I can venture out into the world outside Illinois, trusting myself to build community where ever I find myself so that home is an idea or state of emotion rather than a geographic location.

I could stay here and take the seemingly safe path. A path that would require renewed focus on family relationships. In order to be successful it would also require some community building so that my neglected sense of affiliation can blossom.

Or I could take a position that would put me in contact with a former supervisor on a daily basis, only as a peer. I would be able to confront directly a former source of authority that I chaffed against in silent frustration.

Each of these paths has associated with it a job and various plusses and minuses. Up until the reframing of these three employment prospects as opportunities for personal growth I found myself stymied and unable to make a rational choice. I was fighting against leaving home ( Illinois ) without being able to express the reasons why. Having reframed the decision as a choice between three equal ways to further my personal growth removes the fear of making the wrong choice. Any movement towards positive personal growth cannot by definition be wrong.

Emotionally I am finding a new sense of calm and serenity today. Now that I am making a choice about my personal growth and not reacting to outside pressures about having the right job, I find that I am open to all three options. I am excited by the prospect of each of them. Sitting back and allowing one to naturally unfold will be easy, and that will let me know that this is the best next step for me.

Since losing my employment over two months ago I have wanted to find a way to fuse my personal growth and desired lifestyle with my employment. Now that I am seeing my options as equal but varied expressions of my growth, personality, and lifestyle; I have found that fusion. And I have found my power again.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.