I sent the following e-mail to one of my clients: “Belmont pooped. Halia peed. I walked them from 1:30-2:15. See you tomorrow!”
If something fun happens on our walks, I make a note of it. If someone barks or misbehaves on our walks, I inform the parents. That day nothing of any interest happened on our walk and I couldn’t muster anything cutesy to say. All I truly wanted to write was, “I am SO tired of writing this same goddamn e-mail. The thought of having to do it another day leaves a pit in my stomach the size of a cantaloupe.”
I left the dogs, got in the elevator, and barely made it to my car before the tears welled up and I started crying like a 3-year-old who just stubbed her toe for the first time.
I texted MainMan, knowing he was somewhere in the bowels of the science center, and didn’t expect him to see my text until two hours later.
I reached out to my dad with a SOS text and he wrote back instantly, “WOW. I had no idea.”
And he wouldn’t be the first to say this.
I have a tendency to bottle things up inside until they explode. Think Mentos tossed into a Coke bottle. I let things get to a point where I’m blubbering hysterically, barely even able to explain myself, and MainMan or someone unfortunate enough to witness such an episode inevitably asks, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
Call it embarrassment. Call it shame. Call it avoidance. I don’t know. I stopped going to a therapist about a year ago because I couldn’t handle the expense of weekly/bi-monthly conversations. It probably couldn’t hurt to re-evaluate my options.
In any event, I’d hoped to have moved on from dog-walking and pet-sitting when we got married in April. Following our honeymoon and the month I took off from my pet business, I wanted to find something else, but here I am almost three months later and still stuck in a professional rut.
I didn’t want to admit to anyone, much less myself, that I was unhappy. It seemed so silly. After all, I just got married three months ago. Isn’t this supposed to be the happiest time in my life? I started Rascals & Roses for myself to BE happy. To be stress-free. And it’s precisely the stress-free nature of the job that’s making me crazy. I feel like a robot who’s working on autopilot. I am physically on the move all day, but mentally I feel like a smattering of cold mashed potatoes.
The only time I use (a small portion of) my brain is when I attempt to spell a 10+ score in Words With Friends or when I sit down and read the Sunday Times. I miss feeling challenged professionally, I yearn to be challenged creatively and I don’t see either of these being fulfilled by walking more dogs.
So where do I go from here?
My dad gave me terrific advice. He asked:
“If money wasn’t an option, what are three or four things you would be doing? And I don’t mean sitting on a beach drinking Coronas. What would you be doing professionally?”
Now, think about what skills are needed to do any of those things. Do you have those skills or do you need those skills? What are you going to do to acquire said skills?”
I immediately had a couple of ideas, but I’m going to wait until I’ve done a little more soul-searching to share them publicly.
I continued to cry: with a couple of girlfriends, when I talked to MainMan later that night and again when my mom called the next day. I haven’t cried about it since, but I’m remembering what I felt that day and I don’t want to have those same feelings six months, or even a month, from now. I need to make a change and I am grateful I have a loving husband, friends and family to support whatever I end up deciding to do.
My dad reminded me, “You’re not alone, Mon.”
And if the next plan fails? It’s not the end of the world. I need to just get up and keep trying. To be better and to keep searching for what it is that will make me feel like a whole person. As was true during my swimming career, the same is true in business and life: failure is a part of the story. And we can only grow stronger if we learn from it.