It rang clear and true while I sat in the workshops, networked in the exhibit hall, chewed my dinner during the Awards Banquet.
Not This, Not This, Not This.
The concept of “Not This” comes from bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert writes, “Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place.” She goes on to say, “I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.”
This was my moment of realization. This was my Not This.
And it came, as these moments tend to do, at a very inopportune time. I was at a work conference out of state. I was staying at a luxury resort. I was in the process of getting a promotion. I was networking with some of the brightest minds in my industry. Everything about the situation screamed perfection, hinted towards success. This was what I had worked for.
In between workshops, I went back to my hotel room and cried. It’s also worth mentioning that I was eight weeks pregnant at the time. More than ever, I needed this job. I needed this promotion and pay raise. I needed something – anything – to feel secure, confident, grounded.
Once you know a Not This, once you feel it settling in your bones and gnawing at your heart, you cannot unknow it.
I had to make a plan. The only problem was, I had no idea what it would entail. If Not This, then what? I couldn’t picture my life – couldn’t imagine motherhood, couldn’t see my career, couldn’t envision the next step. Everything was dark and murky. All I knew is that I had heard and felt and tasted the proverbial Not This.
We don’t talk about how hard it is to leave a good thing in pursuit of a better one. As hard as it is to leave a bad situation, most people understand and support your decision. Change is encouraged, welcomed, met with open arms. But when you leave something that’s perfectly acceptable, something that most people would consider good, you receive a lot of push back, both internally and externally.
You start to wonder why you think you deserve something better. You question your judgment. You worry that your standards are too high, that happiness will always elude you. You curse yourself for being a seeker.
But I believe – I have to believe – that if you’re feeling a Not This, it’s because there is something else calling your name. It’s because you’re on the wrong path. It’s because there is something else in store for you. The Not This is like a little nudge from God. It’s like a two-by-four He’s handing you, saying, “Knock this one down and start again. You have other things to build.”
Leaving felt impossible. It felt hard and scary and rash and a little foolish.
But I know that I want to teach my children how to trust their heart and follow their instincts. I want them to be brave enough to leave the good in pursuit of something better. To always follow the desires burning in their heart, even if it means they have to say goodbye to the comfort of security. Even if it means change. Even if they have to burn it all down and start again.
I want them to be brave. To be bold. To trust themselves enough to listen to the Not This.
And so, I leapt.
I don’t know if it’ll all work out – if there is a net waiting to catch me. But maybe it’s not about the outcome. Maybe it never was.
Maybe it doesn’t matter where or how I land, only that I finally had the courage to jump.
Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.