How I let go of my identity defined by corporate career

 Daria Rasmussen, Mindfulness, CalmMind

After nearly 20 years, I have decided to say goodbye to the media and communication industry. I have been in this business since my last year at university in Poland. 20 years of ups and downs. 20 years of learning. 20 years of building wonderful and life-lasting human connections. 20 years on one hell of a ride, and fantastic journey.

I feel privileged to live and work on this exciting and chaotic moment in time when technological advancements impact people’s lives and re-shape marketplaces. This opportunity made working with media exciting and also challenging. The majority of my career was spent in a golden age where everything seemed possible, and we have seen a lot of transformative opportunities fuelled by technology and data.

Unfortunately, my passion started to wane lately, and I entered a phase of disillusionment, losing the sense of purpose and drive that fueled my career. I had come to realize that the impact I made at work was close to zero. I had very little autonomy. The entire model was designed to cater to others, with little room for ‘me,’ and what I could achieve. I had limited access to feedback on how I contribute to the bottom line through my work, which I had dedicated myself to whole-heartedly.

I had to shape my experience and mind to cater to other’s egos, while at the mercy of their continuous judgment, which took precedence over the work. I realized that I had not laughed for a very long time. I allowed myself to be swallowed by work and tyranny of power points, with very few moments of intoxicating play and flow. I lost not only my purpose but also the joy of working.

Just knowing I had to go to the office triggered a fight or flight response. My body was in a constant state of stress, and frustration was growing. I felt like an imposter who was doing what needed to be done, cashing a monthly check, but not putting any passion into the work. Anais Nin once wrote, “There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like.” I started to feel this ugliness. Instead of sweeping it under the proverbial carpet and continuing with business as usual, I decided to face what was happening internally, and try to understand what lies beneath.

I spent nearly 20 days in silence, and numerous hours meditating. It became clear that I believed working for a company and climbing the career ladder was the only way to work. It took me a long time to let go. For nearly 20 years, office work was my identity. It was the narrative that allowed work to become more important than the people I cared for, more important than my passions and values. I was jailed by the story I have created myself, and which seemed like the only available route to take. My whole being craved to turn my attention to finding the purpose and doing something else.

I learned to detach myself from this idea of success and this identity. Work started to seem less critical. Yes, it paid the bills, but it wasn’t helping me progress and develop. I needed something else than another power point to thrive.

“Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what you want only to find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.” Alain de Botton

I decided to create the life of my choice, rather than continue to live the one imposed on me. This requires the radical reconstruction of my life, not an incremental change. So here I am today, saying goodbye not only to my current job but also the industry, about to embark on a new adventure. I feel liberated and energized. Everything seems possible. I read once that everything you want is on the other side of fear. I crossed that bridge and found joy and purpose on the other side. There is much unknown on the other side. However, I knew I would regret more not trying and taking this step. I feel like I am not even about to start a new chapter of my life, I am taking myself out of safety net and I am about to write an entirely new book.

I am ready to bring my passion and energy into projects that will positively impact people’s lives, and unlock human mental potential and their relationship with the others and the universe. Here is to the beginning of a beautiful and fascinating journey.