A few weeks ago, I spent some time in Philadelphia. It has definitely kicked up some dust in my life. But it was exactly what my soul needed.
Some background information - in 2011, I moved to South Jersey and began working in Philadelphia. It was the “right career move” at the time. I poured myself in to my job, often making little to no time for anything else in my life. Sleep and numbing out were the norm for me, but in my mind, It was all normal. “This is what advancing in your career looks like.”
I had zero control. Through 2014, I desperately wanted a change, and had no idea how to create the change, or even spark a change. It was also in this year that all my bad habits really culminated - It was a numb year, a year where I needed to be the priority in my own life, but I had no idea how to do It. There was a lot of frustration, and not a lot of compassion for myself.
In 2015, I got the opportunity to move to North Jersey, the place I hadn’t been since I was a teenager. And this move wasn’t a career move, at all, but very much a personal move. This move set the stage for my personal growth, my spiritual grounding, and the exploration and curiosity I have now when It comes to living my best life.
The move has served me well. But I really compartmentalized my pain from Philadelphia. Even though I did a lot of work on my self, I still felt like there was this pain left behind, and I kept It 100 miles away from me.
In the middle of May, I knew I’d be going to Philadelphia to work with a business coach. As The Universe would have It, my schedule at work cleared, and I got to spend the weekend down there. I took advantage of the time, and planned to immerse myself in the city.
During my time there, I spent time just being a tourist - something I never did. I also really focused on the present day me, in the back drop of the city that was once so painful for me.
They say hindsight is 20/20. And here’s what I observed during this weekend -
The years I worked in Philly, I was doing the best I knew how to at the time. In the past, I felt i was stupid for not doing more to feel more joy. The truth is, I didn’t know how. And that’s ok. In the pain, I didn’t know how to extend myself compassion.
Grace was a word I didn’t have a comprehension of in the past. And true change comes with grace - grace actually proceeds the change. Things don’t shift overnight. In the peak of my unhappiness in the past, I just wanted to feel relief. And I wasn’t comfortable with making mistakes - but grace allows space for the change, and I didn’t get It right even once I moved. I had to keep trying, and give myself grace.
And this may be the biggest thing of all - a person, a place, or a thing isn’t the source of our pain. For years I thought It was my job and Philadelphia and South Jersey that fueled my pain. It wasn’t. My pain was in the perception I had of everything in my life and how often I willingly gave my power to external factors. My move to North Jersey didn’t miraculously create joy in my life - my willingness to shift the way I saw and approached things was the source of the changes. To be cliche, but also truthful, in North Jersey I took my power back, and that’s what has paved the way for change and expansion in my life.
Looking back now, I see that I could have lived the life I am living now in South Jersey/Philadelphia, if I was willing to see things differently. This is is definitely something I am still processing through. And this thought offers me freedom, but to be honest, It also is something that I am actively trying to embrace. The truth is our circumstances do not define us, it’s our willingness to change our perception, and that is where the work was. It’s where the work still is. And it’s where the work will always be.