As a young man preparing to go off to college, my father asked me what was my calling in life. I told him that I was thinking about three different courses of study. One was
psychology, the others were art and theater. He informed me that it would be hard to make a living to support a family with art or theater and that neither would be family-friendly. I felt the shame for my interest in the arts; as being "unmanly" and not “real” work. So, I chose to study psychology and slowly buried my love of the arts.
As a result of some life circumstances, I never professionally pursued a career in psychology. I became an entrepreneur. In 10 years, I started three businesses and experienced three business failures. I developed a philosophy of "if you are going to pay the tuition, you had better go to class." Searching for "lessons learned," I entered the corporate world of work. I realized that all that I possess in the corporate world is time and knowledge. I would be trading these assets for money. With this in mind, I aimed to gain the most return on this trade. Financially it took me fifteen years to recover from the three business failures with a supportive wife and three children. I had traded time for money. Yet, at a cost to my soul. Had I “sold out” the values and ideals that I held as that young man entering college?
Having found more financial stability, as I advanced into the corporate world, I focused on building the wealth that I missed during my fifteen years of recovery. I struggled with the inherited notion that money can corrupt people. The more that I accumulated, the less secure I felt. I worked with the question of "when is enough, enough?” During this time, I became acutely aware that I was trading my time for money in the corporate culture that was toxic to my soul. I was working in a culture driven by hyper-masculine energy, spiked with dysfunctional testosterone. This environment led to struggles with a work-life imbalance that contributed to my feeling "stuck," which surfaced with depression.
Last week, I decided that I must take back control of my life and soul. I submitted my letter of resignation to the corporate world. I aimed to overcome the fear and anxiety that I chose to keep me "stuck" in a toxic work environment. I grant that this is counter-intuitive to many people. Over the next year, I am challenging myself with a "stretch" of sharing my transition with others. I feel fear of sharing this with others who may question my sanity and masculinity. By taking the risk of vulnerability, I hope to share this transition with other men who find themselves in similar situations; I hope to become a spark that can lead to light.