I sit quietly in the setting that has become routine for me — far from home, staring out at the modern marvels of aviation that we take for granted. There’s something different about this dreary day in New York City, there’s a calmness to it. I am winding down my work affairs in preparation for a paid month off from work, a gift from my employer, Edelman for ten years worth of contribution to the firm. It’s a great perk and one that I am fully taking advantage of. But to understand why, let me take a step back…
I graduated from college in the mid 90s, specifically from a prestigious design school. It was a worthy investment from myself and my parents as I landed full time work in my field immediately, as a graphic designer. Turns out that the world of print design was being upended with the advent of digital desktop publishing and Pratt had given me skills where they were needed as the old guard of designers struggled to keep pace with the change. In a way, this getting ahead of the disruption has been a theme in my career life, and it has resulted in my steady employment since that first day out of college — I have had no experience of gaps between employment.
A blessing but also a limited experience in the grand scheme of life…
My personal life has been in many ways a mirror reflection of my professional. Married young by urban standards at 24, a dedicated father at 29, those life and career years prioritized for family, work and on some good days, friends with not much room for anything else — certainly not for self or self reflection in any meaningful sense of the words. Time passed, eventfully and rapidly (emphasis on rapidly).
When the thought of Sabbatical first began percolating in my mind, it felt like yet another thing to make time for and prioritize. I knew I had to do it for myself, but I had client expectations to mange, teams who needed my time and attention as well as my Fiancé who takes top priority as it should be. Me and self, seemed like an afterthought, and like anything in today’s Insta-Life, I felt immediately pressured to plan a “social media sabbatical”… the kind that others in my profession might undertake with the means to do so. A Safari in Africa? A month spent wandering the small towns of Europe?
It’s funny how your mind goes to places of what you think is expected of you vs. what you give yourself permission to actually do.
I landed in a place that couldn’t be farther from any of those. I decided my Sabbatical would be one of self care, self expectations, self reflection and an opportunity to BE with myself. So I did the minimal amount of planning with the exception of a road trip which will largely be improvisational — taking a combination of back roads, highways and Route 66 from Chicago to Arizona, and culminating with a hike of the Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.
I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon and I live in the US. We can’t live in the past, but we can influence the future.
As I wrap up my last duties of the office, with minimal plans in place but a vision and hope for self reflection, pause and rejuvenation — I’m embracing the coming lack of demands of my time and attention. The break from formal work and society’s expectations of myself both in the professional and personal. There’s a calm before the Sabbatical and I’m sipping it like a cup of hot tea — little sips with the feeling of warmth that comes after. It’s a moment worth capturing as the version of myself that emerges after the pause remains a question mark — and I am good with that.