Recently, the actress/producer/CEO Reese Witherspoon shared her thoughts on failure. In an honest and, frankly, comforting post, Witherspoon wrote about how, early on in her career, after going on multiple auditions and callbacks she wouldn't get parts, often being told she was "too" something or other. Saying, "I'm not gonna lie, sometimes all the rejection would hurt my feelings, I would take it personally. I definitely cried in the shower a lot in my 20’s. What I didn’t know then was : rejection teaches you perseverance and how to get tough. And you also learn ... not every path is right for you." I know that feeling of failure so well. And while we have all been there early on in our careers, rejection at 20 is one thing. Rejection at 40 and above however, is something completely different. When my time at CNN came to an end I wondered what my next chapter would be. I thought I would take some time off and then would have my pick of jobs to return to. I know, arrogant right? At the time, I didn't think I was being arrogant. I thought I had worked hard for 20 years and had accumulated so much experience and expertise that finding a new job would be easy, that the phone would ring with people wanting to work with me, after all, I had built a name for myself (or so I thought) and all that hard work would count for something right? Wrong. What I learned is that life doesn't pan out the way we assume it will. What I learned is that life takes a different route, a path that while seemingly painful, is actually the path towards the destination that is best for us. The reality was, in the immediate aftermath of my departure, I wasn't in any shape to find work. I was burnt out. And that is the energy I was emitting. I did ask the universe what my next step should be. I remember specifically asking "who am I now?" Two months after leaving my job I got married, and then a few months later I got a response from the universe about my next role: I found out I was pregnant. I was 41. To me, it was monumental. Getting married and having a family of my own was something I had wanted for so long but just didn't seem able to get. There was always so much drama in my life whether it was a relationship or work. For me, the family thing just didn't happen. Until it did. I now look at those events as the universe giving me what I wanted and needed at the right time. I just had to do the work on myself, to be self-aware, to deal with whatever "stuff" I had going on mentally and emotionally to really understand and appreciate the flow of life. It's the same with work. What felt like a failure of not having my contract renewed or not having those job offers come my way, was actually a gift. A gift of time. Time to focus on those things that I had so desperately wanted for so long and finally got. And truth be told, in the two years leading up to my departure, I was already feeling the angst of wanting more in my life, that the job that I had loved for a long time, just wasn't for me anymore. I felt I had grown as much as I could have in that job. I was comfortable. Perhaps too comfortable and afraid to move on. My contract ending was the push I needed to really figure out what I wanted out of life. The time had come for me to get get out of that comfort zone. My son is now almost 4 years old (that's him in the photo above). In that time we have moved countries and completely overhauled our lifestyle, focusing on him and each other. We live in the countryside where nature and Netflix are our entertainment. We have made great friends who feel like family and who appreciate us for who we are, not for where we work or title on our business cards. That's a real life lesson too by the way. Knowing who is there for you even when you don't work at a fancy company with a fancy title. It is real life for us. Real because it feels right. And it wouldn't have happened if what felt like rejection at the time didn't happen, both personally and professionally. Today, I am finding my feet again work-wise. And it's different this time around as I have learned from my lessons from when I was in my 20s and 30s. Lessons, which looking back at it all, were fun, exhilarating, heartbreaking, and stressful all at the same time. Just how it is meant to be in our youth. My priority now is my family and time together. My priority is also wanting to work in ways that are aligned with who I am today. Not climbing any ladders or running in any rat races. For me, that redefinition has come, in part, with The Citrine Room and the joys of bringing you all the great insights I discover while doing my daily search for stories and inspiration. And the blog where I explore all the aspects of what it means to be human, fallible and wonderful at the same time. I will end this with a few more of Witherspoon's words in that social media post from this week. She says, "My friend Kerry Washington always says “Rejection is God’s protection”. You are on a path that is made for YOU. Sometimes the universe is protecting you from a bad job or a toxic relationship. So remember next time you fail at something or someone leaves you heartbroken.... let yourself be sad, grieve what didn’t happen for a minute but move ON. Better things are waiting for you." I can't tell you how true those words are. It may not feel like it at the time, and there are times I wobble and worry, like really wobble and worry, tears and all. But if I can take my own life up till now as my personal sat nav then the detours and the disappointments are leading me somewhere great. After all, they already have.
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