Dear Friends and Readers,
Let me tell a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down.
Let me take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bell Air.
Okay, so I’m definitely not the right gender to be a prince, but I do like the song Purple Rain (my favorite band in college did a cover of it and I’ve loved it ever since).
In recent months, my life has been turned upside down. Just substitute Northern Wisconsin for Bell Air.
In March, I made the hardest decision of my life. It is a decision that has proven to be excruciatingly painful.
I decided to leave.
I left my first adult hometown. I left friends and a church I loved. I left a job that I thought I would retire from.
In the years I lived in Indiana, I spent more I my waking life at that Boys & Girls Club than I did outside of it. I poured all of my time, energy and devotion into that place, those kids, that town. Leaving that place felt like splitting myself in half.
I still feel like I left my heart in the hands of those angel babies whom I will always think of as my own.
I moved to another Boys & Girls Club, in my home state, far closer to family. My new organization is a more positive environment, and my new hometown quite wonderful. I have a better work-life balance, and the health problems I experienced in Indiana seem to be subsiding.
I find myself loving new kids and families and staff. I find myself feeling a little bit more whole again with each passing day.
That terrible ache that began when I first applied for my new job is still there, along with the guilt of knowing not all of my kids and staff have transitioned well. But right alongside that pain is a growing feeling of hope, and a slow restoration of joy.
If you need to leave to be healthier, if you need to leave for the sake of you family, if you need to leave to be in a more positive environment, you can.
If the decision to leave is truly the right decision, it will be right for you, for everyone in your life and at your workplace, and for the greater community.
The world needs more whole, qualified, dedicated youth workers who are in it for the long haul. The world does not need more burned out, lonely, in-it-because-they-feel-too-guilty-to-leave youth workers.
If you are where you are supposed to be, stay. Continue to dedicate yourself to your family, your community and your work.
If you are not where you are supposed to be, give yourself permission to leave.
Will Smith started over in SoCal, and it worked out okay for him. I think moving on could work out okay for you and me too.