As we make our way through the The Lost Girls, I come back to the concept at the core of this blog: “the gray”…and taking action to move beyond it.
If you’re new here, you might be wondering what “the gray” is exactly. Think of it this way: have you ever felt lost, uninspired, unmotivated, unfulfilled, passionless, purposeless, directionless…or something similar? Have you ever wondered if this is all there really is to life? Or felt convinced that you were meant to do something bigger, better, or more meaningful with your time on this planet? If you’ve ever felt any variation of these things, then you too have experienced “the gray.”
For lost girls Jen, Holly and Amanda, their “gray” came in the form of high pressure, cut-throat, thankless media jobs in NYC…from which they quit to travel the world and begin their own “beyond the gray” life transformations.
Reading this book reminds me just how many good, competent people suffer through awful jobs while their calling stirs within them, waiting to be answered. You might say that awful jobs have become sort of a rite of passage, the driving force behind the transition from who you think you’re supposed to be…to who you really are.
Anthropologically speaking, rites of passage have three phases: separation, transition, and re-incorporation. Here’s a brief overview of each (according to an article on Wikipedia):
- In the separation phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. There is often a detachment or ‘cutting away’ from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is ‘cutting away’ the former self – the civilian.
- The transition phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but hasn’t yet entered or joined the next; the person adjust to the new status.
- In the re-incorporation phase, having completed the rite and assumed their ‘new’ identity, one re-enters society with one’s new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation.
So, how does this apply to you? Well, if you’re currently stuck in an awful job but are dying to make a change and follow a dream, you may want to start by dipping your toe in the separation phase. This can involve admitting your dream to a friend or family member, declaring your decision to make a change, creating a financial plan and exit strategy to support your decision, and taking initial steps to put your plan in to motion.
The lost girls followed this evolution by first proclaiming that they wanted to travel around the world together for a year in order to examine the trajectory of their lives and careers. Then they spent a year and a half planning and saving for their trip. When the decided-upon deadline arrived, they tendered their respective resignations and set out for South America on a journey that changed their lives.
If you find yourself in an awful job, well, congratulations. As with a first kiss, the coming of age, marriage, or the birth of a child, your awful job can mark the beginning of brighter days to come.
If you let it.