Blog post by Dr Zibah Nwako School of Education, University of Bristol
Having recently completed my studies during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about managing life within these confines and how it affects my career aspirations. It’s one thing to shut one door and try to open another one in normal circumstances, but given the pressures of today’s uncertain world, these endings and beginnings are an entirely different challenge.
Whether it’s to do with our work, relationships, health, finances – some of us may have been standing at a crossroads for a while, seeking answers, wondering which direction to turn or even grasping at what we believe to be opportunities but are not quite in tune with what we desired or envisaged. This can be quite an uncomfortable, even painful, in-between place to be. If you are in this space, please know that you are not alone.
Shall we set up a support group of confused in-betweeners?
Shall we struggle on, hoping and praying that the mist clears soon?
Shall we grab any and every opportunity that comes along, anticipating that it may well turn out to be the “right” one for us?
Shall we step back for a bit and let things flow naturally?
Or shall we resign ourselves to the fact that “what will be, will be”?
A serendipitous discussion
For me, I have experienced two forms of “breakthrough” since my painful ending. One was when I set up this website because the preparation process was helpful to the achievement, and it was something that I had wanted to accomplish for a long time. I also really appreciate all the contributors for keeping it going thus far.
The second happened more recently when I had a meeting with a new business contact as we explored working together on potential projects. In what I can only describe as a serendipitous discussion, it turned out that she was looking for mentees to work with as part of a course that she is currently undertaking, and suddenly I realised that I also had unconsciously been seeking a mentor… a professional guide, if you like. Of course I jumped at the chance!
Serendipitous [adj.] – occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way
Although I’ve been honoured and privileged to act as a mentor to a number of young people, I am aware that I myself have never been a mentee (at least not officially). You can therefore imagine my excitement at this particular opportunity! And because of the huge respect that I have for my new mentor, her ideas, time and resources, I am committed to ensuring that the outcomes of the relationship are beneficial to both of us and that I will learn so much more to be a better mentor to others.
Even more so, I hope that I can find some clarity and direction to enable me to move forward with my professional aspirations and/or to find any hidden leads that I may have missed as I continue on my career journey. I am grateful for this chance and if you are also searching, I hope that you will find yours soon. Given the year that we’ve had, we do need to keep hope alive for a better 2021!
As this quote (attributed to Lao Tzu) affirms:
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings”
Blog originally published: Painful Endings, New Beginnings – Zibah Nwako, PhD
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