BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”
I have always considered myself to be a pretty goal-oriented person. I am always orchestrating my next move, pondering my next big idea, investing in personal development, etc. I don’t do stillness well, at least when it comes to my career. Currently, I am professionally idle. My career compass is broken, and I am freaking the fuck out.
The main reason for my freak out is I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Over the past few years, I have done so much work on “me” personally, that I refuse to settle for anything that doesn’t ignite the fire within. I am a believer in “life’s too short to be unhappy”. But the reality is, “life’s expensive and Mama has a mouth to feed”. So sometimes discontent pays the bills.
There’s also another obstacle at play here: my age. My skillset lies in studying human behavior and forecasting macro-futures. The fuckery that is Corporate America views someone that does what I do at my age, as old, passé and incapable of progressive thinking. Unfortunately, 40 isn’t the new 20 in Corporate America. Whereas I keep myself looking fresh and up to date, and my spirit is young and open, you don’t experience that energy in a resume. Companies look at the year you graduated from college and do the math. I had heard women speak about getting to this place in their career. Now I am one of those women…and it’s frightening.
This whole ageism thing snuck up on me. It wasn’t until I started seeking out new opportunities when I realized, “Shit. This is real, and this is happening.” So, what was I to do? I spoke to women in my age camp and— get this—it turns out that women my age and older start “gaming the system.” What is that, you ask? Gaming the system is leaving out dates on your resume so an employer cannot track how old you are. This is a thing folks, and it makes me incredibly sad. We’re hiding our age in shame when we should be celebrating all the accomplishments that come with it. I felt like I was back in the online dating game, where women would hide their age so they weren’t overlooked by potential suitors.
Pretending to be younger than we are is bad for us, because it becomes about denial and shame. Denying something that should not be shameful. Denying something that should be a source of pride and pleasure. It’s not good for us because it gives a pass to the discrimination that makes these behaviors necessary, and it’s got to stop. As long as we surrender to this norm, and as long as we are not calling it out, we don’t change the system. We need to advocate for larger systemic change. This isn’t just a women’s issue (although more women face it than men), this is a human rights issue.
*Whoa, this blog just took a totally different turn. That’s the thing, though: when you write from the heart, you’re never really in control over where the narrative takes you.*
While aging in my industry concerns me, the real worry here is that I lack direction. I’ve lost my true north. Believe me, I am trying to find my way, but it’s harder than it’s ever been. I have immersed myself in countless conversations with friends, family and industry players for the past few months, and the question that continues to surface is the one I struggle with the most.
“What do you want to do next?”
The old me would have had a monologue prepared, with specific examples and a road map of how I plan to get there. The current me? Well, after an awkward moment of silence, I spew something that sounds like, “Bullshit, bullshit, I have no fucking clue. I am scared, lost and directionless. Please help.”
I am obviously struggling. I am uncomfortable with inertia. My anxiety is overriding any potential ideas that stretch me beyond my comfort zone. I am simply, but ever so complicatedly, stuck.
So, what does a flailing goal-digger, future-thinker, obsessive planner, do? What I always do: open my journal and write. I found myself writing about times in my career when I felt fulfilled, happy and on my A-game. Times when I created from my heart. Times when I felt like I was making a difference. Times when I was surrounded with creatives that encouraged me to level up. And as I wrote, the room became illuminated. The north star, which I had lost sight of, showed up and shined down bright upon me. It was in that moment when I realized why I lost focus: I was thinking so much about what I would do next, that I forgot to feel. I had gotten too much in my head and neglected my heart. I needed to FEEL my way through this time of uncertainty.
I wrote down this question: “How do I want to FEEL in this new role, at this new place, with these new people, making new things?”
This process is very familiar to me, because I spent the past year implementing something like it as it pertains to my next relationship, and I have journal entries to prove it. I used to think about relationships the same way I thought about my career: everything was very logical and well-planned (and yet I wondered why it never worked out – lol). I wasn’t feeling my way to my next love and that’s why he wasn’t showing up. The relationship couldn’t only be about who I wanted to be with, I had to focus more on what I wanted to feel like with the person, and how I wanted to show up in that relationship. By feeling my way into the next relationship, I’ll recognize it when it shows up because of how it feels. I needed to work through that same process for my career.
Whereas I am nowhere near done, I am off to a good start! I am getting unstuck. This 47-year-old human behaviorist, researcher, and futurist-for-hire? Well, she’s going to be alright. I can feel it.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.
Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.