Feeling Good. That’s one of the new songs I’ve chosen to learn and it has such beautiful lyrics.
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, for me… and I’m feeling good.”
This song, which captures so evocatively the feeling of freedom, could be a theme tune for my career break. Most days.
I can’t recall the last time I felt this free.
When people ask me how I’m going, still on occasion with some hesitation on their part about what my answer might be, I can answer them honestly that I feel happy, light and free.
So free that for a few days earlier this week, I found myself digging through mouse droppings and dodging giant cockroaches to help clean out a badly-neglected house.
That may not be anyone’s idea of a good time, but it says a lot about my new-found freedom.
For the first time since I was at university, and perhaps not even then, I am accountable to no one but myself. (Actually, since starting pinchmyself I do feel accountable to you wonderful people who have taken an interest in my story.)
I’m free to represent only myself, to focus on my personal values and importantly, to spend time doing what feels important to me.
That’s how I came to be dealing with vermin and rubbish as I gave a few days work to help out a good friend. He had to clean up his house in Queensland after rogue tenants neglected and damaged the place, leaving him in a difficult financial position.
Carting rubbish to fill a big skip bin is a million miles from my old job, which in itself is liberating, but how good does it feel to use this freedom to help a friend in need.
“Freedom is mine…and I know how I feel…”
This level of freedom can’t last, which is why I want to do meaningful things with this time. That includes the volunteering that I have coming up in Cambodia, with an agency that works to free people from the horrors of trafficking and exploitation.
When you think about freedom, it’s a value that human beings have fought to achieve and protect in its many forms, including the freedom simply to be who we are.
In the corporate world there is a strong emphasis on compliance, with some good reasons, and there are both rules and expectations that govern how employees speak and behave.
Inevitably then, even for the most frank and fearless member of staff, leaving that environment brings a renewed sense of individual freedom. I’ve definitely felt that.
Of course the immediate reality is that, like a prisoner confronted with the enormity of life on the outside, you’ve suddenly lost the rules and routine that gave you structure and certainty, which is why they say that freedom can be scary. I’ve also felt a little of that.
My career appeared to be mapped out in front of me and now I feel greater freedom to treat the future like a blank page. Again, that’s potentially both daunting and exciting.
But one of my lightest and happiest feelings of freedom is in not having to second-guess myself about the wisdom of taking this career break.
That’s the gift that I spoke about when I first started pinchmyself.
Someone else took the hard decision and gave me the freedom to simply enjoy this break. In that regard, the decision to turn this corner is not mine to regret, but it is up to me to make the most of it.
“And this old world, is a new world and a bold world for… me…”