A sense of agency in life comes from having opportunity and choices.
Some opportunities you happen across just as you are wandering along through life. It pays to have your eyes and ears open so you don’t miss these ones. They can be small, dull and easily passed over.
Other opportunities come from hard slog, from always turning up and giving whatever it is your best shot, reflecting on your achievements, and failures, and figuring out how to get to the next level.
Opportunities are funny things. Some are thrust in front of you in an almost aggressive way that makes people like me want to run screaming in the other direction. These are the opportunities that take us by suprise, those we have not been seeking or expecting and for which we feel ill prepared. Opportunities like these will always teach you something. Usually that you are capable of so much more than you think you are. And sometimes that you have a whole lot more to learn.
In contrast there are those for which we seek and hunger. The opportunities that lurk in the strangest hidden places, the rare four leafed variety. We check under bushes, kick over a stone every so often in case we might, by sheer chance, stumble across one.
There are those that come by way of nurture and back breaking hard work. The opportunities we work towards, till the fields for, that we will be ready to harvest as soon as they are ripe. These ones are usually more my speed.
And lastly there are those opportunities which we just happen across by virtue of just being there, that right place, that right time, that moment of looking left not right, of down not up. The magic of those opportunities lies in the recognition.
Last year’s Big Distraction has been a restructure at work – that thing known as ‘The Day Job’.
I know this is an experience lots of people can relate to at the moment, and like many others the process seemed to be going on forever. That meant a year filled with anxiety and uncertainty about the future, both for me and all the colleagues around me.
The good news is the workplace uncertainty is behind me now, because the workplace is now behind me. After much agonising and number crunching, and thoughts about what it is I want to be doing next, I asked for, and got a redundancy. Now redundancy is not good news for everyone, but for me, at this moment in time, it seems like an opportunity with a capital O.
I should note that I genuinely loved the job I had for the last few years. My web development role ticked all the boxes of creativity, problem solving, user interaction, project management, business analysis and some geeky tech stuff. All with a nice dose of autonomy. I could have happily carried on with that for a while yet. I’m not naturally a big risk taker. I have a contentious if not entirely conservative nature. I believe in research, planning, practice and hard work. Right now is the moment for me to take a big old step outside my comfort zone.
When talking to people about taking this step I’ve described it as a gap year, as my mid life crisis. Everyone then asks me when there fancy car is, or the motorbike and go on to tell me I’m not doing a mid-life crisis right. And that may well be true.
What I am doing is going back to school.
Many moons ago I decided to go and study IT because I knew enough to know I didn’t know enough. I find myself in that hat same spot with my photography these days. So as of next Thursday I’m going to be a full time student for a year, studying for a Diploma of Photography and Photoimaging at TAFE.
There are going to be a number of challenges in that I’m sure. Some I can anticipate as I’ll be going in as a mature age, if not over-ripe, student alongside school leavers less than ( or should that be more than?) than half my age. I think that particular challenge has some advantages as well. I’ll be drawing on my life time of experiences, personal and professional.
Time will tell. If I come out of this experience with nothing more than greater resilience, it will have been a chance worth taking.