The Rapidian

Starting Over

A number of losses alters priorities, creating a need for a life change and the beginning of a new chapter
My great grandparents.

My great grandparents.

Hagby Church (Sweden) - topped with the cross reportedly crafted by my ancestor.

Hagby Church (Sweden) - topped with the cross reportedly crafted by my ancestor. /Thomas Hegewald

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst in creating a surge of new beginnings for a large number of people in the workforce. For some, there were layoffs. For others, working from home became the norm. Then came The Great Resignation - where large numbers of workers left employers for better pay, benefits or to even switch careers entirely.

There is no shame in starting over. In fact, it takes a lot of courage and fortitude to face each day as it comes - to do the work, to live in the space you occupy and to gain a new perspective on your life. 

For me, leaving a decades-long position was precipitated by a number of personal losses. Following my resignation, I worked for myself for a time while also seeking employment elsewhere. My search for an entry-level position in an industry completely unrelated to my previous role and experience brought me to my new employer.

I knew starting over would be hard - emotionally, mentally, financially and even physically. Survival instinct does kick in at some point to keep you moving each day. Perhaps that’s what sparked the initial thought of "it’s time to move on" - the basic American dream of pursuing a better life. 

I only had to look to my parents, grandparents and great grandparents to recognize that courage and fortitude are part of my heritage when it comes to starting over. My dad started over not only in moving to the U.S., but also with career paths once he was established here. After raising my siblings and I, my mom earned a Master's degree and returned to the profession she had worked in the years before. When my maternal grandmother became a widow, she had to find a job outside of the home for income - finding an entry level job at the age most people retire. She worked her way up to a position of many responsibilities before retiring 20 years later. Her parents, my great grandparents, set the tone for generations (one coming from Sweden and the other from Denmark) to start a new life here in the United States. They both found employment and each other in this land of opportunity.

I recently traveled to Sweden and Denmark, the countries my great grandparents had left behind, to close the circle. I saw the church that my great grandmother’s grandfather reportedly made the cross for. I photographed the landscape that my great grandparents had grown up on and then looked at one last time before leaving.

In doing so, I recognized the sacrifices and struggles my family members had endured and how I benefitted from their achievements. At my previous position, I had felt for a while that it was time to move on - I just didn’t know what I was supposed to move on to. I spent too much time thinking about what could be and worrying about how to get there. With the passing of my parents, it dawned on me that life is short - too short to stay in a position that didn’t fit me anymore.

What I didn’t realize I’d find (and need) was the healing that comes from starting over. Something happens when forging ahead and blazing a new trail - you focus on what’s ahead, not what’s behind. You strive for something better and it manifests itself internally, in your own attitude and behavior. Life is an adventure, a tragedy, a comedy, a game - all of the above. It was time to experience all of that again, only this time with fresh insight.

My parents never saw me transition to this new chapter. I know they would’ve been delighted in my next step of a new job and celebrated it with me. Because they aren’t here, I delight in assisting senior customers, “seeing” my parents in their faces. I look at this new chapter as an opportunity to develop additional work skills and to grow as a person. Both give me a new perspective on life. Interacting with a diverse group of coworkers and customers, I learn something new every day. In a single day, I can hear a variety of accents from those around me - reminding me of family members starting over. It’s encouraging to realize that there are so many of us experiencing our next chapter.

Each day is a fresh start - a chance to start over with a clean slate and to improve ourselves. Sometimes there are setbacks that throw off the focus, and sometimes the day’s activities flow smoothly and tasks are accomplished efficiently. Life is about mustering the courage to take the next step forward, to move through the pain and to grow from it.



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