Here We Are Poland’s (HWAP) start up meeting and the DISC presentation given by Rebecca Castell at another of HWAP’s workshop offerings were incredibly valuable to me. They gave me reason to thoughtfully consider how I wanted to shape my life. Up until moving to Warsaw, the answers had always come so clearly that I never needed to think about what to do in order to feel needed and purposeful in my life. Additionally, at the time HWAP began, I felt like I was at a crossroads as my children began to thrive in their new school, my husband was focused on his new job and there I was: floating from one thing to the next with no true direction.
The future was looming in a way it never had in the past and a sense of anxiety started to encroach upon me. How would I be able to continue to support my family’s needs and bring in income within the next 5 years? Timing was an important contribution to this anxiousness- in 5 years my husband would be considering retirement at a time when the kids would, hopefully, be going off to college. What would I have to offer an employer when I had given up a regular career in order to raise children, manage the household and support my husband’s career? I didn’t want to be bored doing some job that brought in an income, but left me feeling empty.
How could I honor my own desire to do something challenging and meaningful that would offer me an acceptable income without losing balance? While I could go back to my former career as a teacher, I wasn’t sure that would fulfill my desire to affect change in the educational system. Plus, if we had to move again, it would not be easy to start anew in this field even though teaching positions are always available. Did I want to put my family through 9 + months of being ignored so I could excel in my job? No. I was looking for something more portable that could give me the same charge teaching always had but that offered a chance for more flexibility and spontaneity.
Coming from a place where I’ve always excelled at whatever I wanted to do; a place where I had lots of support with the children, where I had friends and family who were around to spend time with and didn’t travel regularly to this community of which I understood very little, where I virtually had no support with the kids and to where my husband’s working hours had dramatically increased, where few people stayed in town and where the moment I started to become close friends with someone they had to move on was like having to jump a 10 foot hurdle. Life was very different from what I had expected from past experiences living abroad or on military posts because people banded together in those instances in ways that were more difficult to do in the expat community. In the past, I had always felt a sense of close belonging whereas here that sense was fleeting. Initial and continued observations of anxiety from almost everyone I met now affected me too. Persistent concerns regarding future moves like where one would live next and how long one would be placed in Warsaw affected present concerns about making a career for oneself such as how much progress could be made in such a short amount of time and who would be interested in hiring someone who would be leaving within a year or two. In addition, mundane tasks (shopping, making dentist and dr. appts., finding like-minded healthcare professionals, etc.) made it even more challenging to put forth effort toward any meaningful career because processes did not often occur as expected. Between lack of knowledge about daily processes and lack of ability to easily communicate, these boring, but necessary tasks often ended up taking 3 times as long to accomplish.
Friends at home would annoy me when they would innocently ask questions like, “What do you do all day long?” As I was unable to answer in a way that would seem relevant to them, I started to question my own ability to find something unique to offer that felt important to me. Although I volunteered quite a bit, no one seemed to place much value on these very important jobs that helped our children adjust to life in a new country and created a community for others like us. Additionally, it seemed like there were only a select few willing or able to volunteer their precious time. Thus, volunteer work often ended up feeling like a job in which one is overworked and underappreciated. Payment or lack of payment did not seem to be the determining factor in finding purpose. Odd paid jobs failed to provide me the satisfaction of working continually toward a long-term goal and failed to provide me with the acknowledgement, regular challenge and ongoing social interaction I’d had when I’d worked in a career. I felt like a fish out of water and I absorbed a lot of the anxiousness around me. My most cherished values of connection, independent and creative thinking, being true to myself and receiving mutual respect were getting trampled as I chose to do things that kept me engaged in accomplishing tasks to please others in my search to create a sense of community like the one I left at home.
As I looked at my own concerns and the things that mattered most to me (and not someone else), I came across the field of ADHD coaching and saw that it fit my interests of motivating and empowering youth, creating meaningful connection and mutual respect, and promoting independent thinking. Additionally, my strengths of compassion, focus and curiosity are in harmony with the concepts behind coaching. It has been an amazing journey to find the renewed sense of purpose I was looking for. Coupled with a way to be knowledgeable about executive functioning difficulties which affect so many people I know and love, I have found purpose once again. Life coaching embodies the values that give meaning to my life. Although I have only begun my studies, I have started to feel alive once again.
Participating in HWAPs initial meeting made me pause and consider my professional dreams for the first time in many years. Although the idea I came up with then – which was to start my own school- has evolved, being asked to dream without limitation, something I had not done in a meaningful way since my high school years, sparked a long forgotten drive to search for a solution that would provide balance for my professional desires with those of support role to my family. HWAP promoted this thinking and dared us to share our thoughts with the other participants. It was reassuring to know that I was not alone, that I could state my dreams aloud and receive some “feed forward” and that, no matter my age, I could reinvent new possibilities for my life! At HWAPs workshop which presented the DISC model, I learned that I work well with all sorts of personalities although I do tend to identify more with one. I learned how I could use my strengths to work best with others. Rebecca’s presentation caused me to give pause to consider my strengths and to think about how to work with people who may perceive me differently. Because of this, I am better able to advocate for myself, a concept that had been difficult for me due to fears of coming across as self-absorbed. I highly recommend participation in Here We Are Poland to any person serving in a support role to their family who is also looking to take a journey in self-discovery, networking with others, and enhancing their professional capabilities.