When I escaped left home to come work as a Chiropractor in Saudi Arabia it was after a financially catastrophic attempt at private practice.  The patients were happy and the staff was family despite being chronically unpaid but… well, one cannot really pay bills with good will or honorable intentions (or an insurance system designed to work against you).  I failed, so I left.

I had an elaborate plan all mapped out when coming here.

#1 – Start working out immediately so as to lose all those stress/cortisol pounds.

I didn’t.

#2 – Write a book or blog about how people with mental illness or other personality ‘disorders’/emotional/learning quirks are generally treated as dysfunctional, behaviorally inappropriate or just plain wrong… disregarding that their perspectives are often right, and their solutions more creative  – about how society should really be supporting their health, recognizing their value and nurturing the perspectives and talents of these kinds of people. In honor of my late sister, and reflecting my own frustrations with what to me are inexplicable double standards of behavior.

Didn’t happen.

#3 – Enjoy and grow from a mentally stimulating, relatively stress-free work environment where I could finally travel the world and not have to worry about when (or if) my next paycheck would come or how much it would be.

Ha ! None of that happened either.

Here’s what I have gained from my time here.

Strength. I battled a 15 year emotional barrier regarding fitness, and defeated it.

Experience.  I started a blog. A bit of a misstep, really, although somewhat on topic. 574551_552133118144173_13097660_n It’s sarcastic, honest, sometimes enlightened, but it didn’t head in a sustainable direction, and time didn’t allow it to be nurtured.  What I needed was a more concrete reason for devoting my criminally brief free time to blogging.

Ha… I lie. What I needed was for it to go somewhere, take me somewhere, instead of just sitting still.

Patience. Being forced to be patient might not be fair but it definitely dulled my intolerance for being inconvenienced by others foolishness.

Reality.  For 20 years or more I’ve always put what tiny extra cash I have into my immediate environment, home and clothing, instead of traveling, experiencing and living – constantly waiting for life and happiness to finally start.  I assumed that my degree and a job would afford me home and travel. I was wrong.  I’m stubborn, and some lessons come hard earned, but I’m learning this one. I’m learning to grudgingly accept that a comfortable home and dream experiences require sacrifices after taxes much greater than my teenage self ever could fathom, and beyond what I was willing to accept in my 30s.  If I’m ever going to be one of those people who has both, something has to change. I have to muster up discipline and self-control…all those punishments traits I never felt I should have to learn.

Realization.  Some things about my academic past and life make sense suddenly. Memorization is my kryptonite.  I’m equally smart, maybe smarter, but in a less generically demonstrable way.  So now instead of being defensive when I feel inadequate by comparison, I recognize the real issue.  I no longer torture myself over what isn’t; now I’m more proud of what I can do that others cannot because I realize that this knowledge gap is larger in my favor than the one I’d imagined wasn’t.

Acceptance.  Of myself.  I’m flawed, but I know my flaws. Sometimes depressed, but always for a valid reason.  I’ve failed people, miserably, but mostly while trying to do the right thing.  I have always been “okay” with me but now I’m relieved and grateful I’m me.  No need to apologize or make excuses for who I am, especially not at my own expense.  I don’t have to be just like you to be a better me.

Lessons.  I must improve how I deal with conflict.  Just because I can be defensive, just because I’ve had subordinates who were automatically defensive, just because the entire culture here is defensive….doesn’t mean it’s best to avoid discussing issues directly with people.  I’ve been a little chicken shit who must grow a spine.

Perspective.  I missed all the signs, from the beginning, that I SHOULD NOT pursue this career. Soooo many signs.  Emotional, physical, financial signs. Unmistakable signs.  And me oblivious to them all, not realizing what they were, shoving myself towards graduation.  I’m buried under $167,000.00 of student loans simply because no time was ever devoted in my childhood to discovering who and what I really should be… what my strengths were.  And because I didn’t know any better I just floated along and allowed life to happen to me as it would.

The only one left to devote that time is me.

My life and my career should be molded around me, instead of me being a square peg shoved into a round hole.  For 40 years I’ve made what in hindsight are incredibly stupid decisions.  I’ve tried to fit a generic job mold, ignoring the strengths I privately valued that made me different.

I am done with that.

I repeatedly banged my head against the world trying to force things to work out well for me, when I should have been seeking the puzzle space where I’d naturally fit.  So here we go!

5 Responses to Background

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    “And because I didn’t know any better I just floated along and allowed life to happen to me as it would.”—I know that feeling!

    I like how you’re taking inventory or your life and your responses to it. Here’s hoping you find your ‘puzzle space.’ 🙂

  2. Andrea says:

    I know you’re definitely someone who can relate. 🙂 And hey, look at you! Published! Hey, did you get my note about not being able to find The Seneca Scourge on goodreads?

    Oh, the inventory-ing gets deeper, even on day one of coaching. 2800 word deeper. eek! chant with me.. puzzle space! puzzle space! puzzle space!

  3. […] Start here by reading Andrea’s first blog entry describing her background. […]

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