a journey of self discovery

4 February 2024

Not too long ago, I awoke on a Friday morning to a lingering sense of sadness. It was a frigid winter day, so I was grateful to be snug under my blankets, with my cat snoring softly at the foot of my bed. With heavy eyelids, I looked at the time. Already 8am. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and started my morning routine, preparing for the day ahead. Settling down at my remote workstation with a steaming cup of coffee in hand, I logged into my work laptop and checked my agenda for the day. No meetings today, lucky me. It's the start of 2024, and everyone's easing back into work after the holidays. I sent some emails, tinkered with some Excel files, and haphazardly whipped together a PowerPoint presentation for a few hours before heading to my weekly Zoom therapy session.

The focus of that day's session revolved around significant past and upcoming changes, a topic my therapist and I extensively explored before. I opened up to her, saying, "I woke up feeling sad today." In response, she asked a question that struck a chord with me: "is it because you are saying goodbye to your former self?" Her words lingered in my mind long after the session ended, carrying the weight of profound truth.

In 2023, my life took a turn. After years of believing that I was “just stupid”, I finally got formally diagnosed with ADHD. The flood of emotions that followed—relief, clarity, and validation—ushered in a transformative journey of self-exploration. I began embracing choices that resonated with my authentic identity. It started with small, but meaningful steps. I rekindled connections with old friends, I embraced my creative side (recognizing the immense value of self-expression), and made a personal website (because we are more than our resumes). It also led to bigger decisions. Among them was the difficult choice to sever ties with my dad (it’s a long story). In essence, I started doing what I wanted to do and what made sense to me. And for the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to not live with the weight of intense anxiety. After two long decades of burying my authentic self, I finally allowed it to rise and be seen.

With newfound courage, I decided to pull the final plug. My job. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be more proud and humbled to have collaborated with kind and thoughtful colleagues. But as Neil Gaiman articulated during his inspiring keynote address at The University of the Arts in 2012: “when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain [my goals]. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.” Similarly, I entered the world of finance years ago because it brought me closer to my mountain. However, staying would have meant walking away from it.

A few weeks ago, I put in my resignation notice at work. I wasn’t sure how people would take it after hearing that I didn’t have any plans afterwards. Truthfully, the plan was to not have a plan. Just rest and reflect. I was met with mixed reactions from my colleagues, but it didn’t matter—for the first time in my life, I knew who I was and what was best for me. And this time, bidding farewell was the answer.

Saying goodbye is always hard. It starts with saying goodbye to our parents when we are ready to spread our wings and leave the nest. And then there are times when we have to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues when the sun sets on our shared experiences. And then it happens again when we are ready to say goodbye to our old selves. Each goodbye doesn’t make the next one easier. At least for me. Amidst the bittersweetness, gratitude fills my heart. I'm grateful to have had opportunities in my life. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to walk away from things that no longer align with my path (unfortunately, not everyone has this privilege).

I’m excited and scared for the next chapter titled “The Unknown”. But might as well do it now.

That said, goodbye old me. In the words of Bilbo Baggins, I’m going on an adventure!

© 2024 Uka Battulga