[Awakin Toronto] Opening Reflections

Posted by Thu Nguyen on Aug 12, 2017
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[Below was Dustin's beautiful share from our very first Toronto Awakin Circle in Regent Park while reflecting on pausing]

I just want to share two aspects of my life where pausing has been very...sometimes painful but beneficial.

The first is when I was making presentations at work. So I had this last job where I had to make a lot of talks. I actually hate public speaking with a passion and I had to suffer 11 years. It never got any better, quite frankly. I kind of noticed this pattern when I was making presentations where in the first parts of my preparation I would be focused on making the content from the presentation, I wasn't thinking of the delivery so much and I was so efficient during this time with all this content. And then, at some point I would go into this place of fear I would imagine myself up giving a talk and I would do something super embarrassing and would have to run out of the room or the bigger questions someone might ask me and I couldn't answer. I would just go down this path of fear. And I noticed after a while, I go back and edit my presentation and make all these edits that actually made the presentation worst.

I had to give a pretty important talk 5 years ago. It's probably the biggest talk I've ever given in my career in front of 250 people and so I had this long prep time. I had to review several times with my boss. There was a check in the middle and towards the end when I had to give my presentation. We had sat down at the end and we looked over my revision history and we ended up unwinding...or rewinding all the changes I made before I had gone down this path of fear. You know, half way through more or less I would be done with the presentation. It took me my entire career to identify where that point was for me to pause. Ok Dustin are you really helping deliver content to your audience...are you really make these changes because you need to? or is this out fear? I'm still learning as I go.

The second one is more relevant to me now. I decided to make a pause in my career. 4 months ago I ended the job I had for 11 years, it was the only job I had after undergrad. On paper it was a fantastic job, the salary was good, I had good coworkers and excellent work life balance. All these things were great. I was lucky in my academic career in the sense that when I was younger, I kind of always knew what I was going to do. I was interested in computer science since age 14. All my classes were pretty much pre-determined because I knew what I was going to do. There was no question what classes I'm going to take next. Everything had this track. So when I got this job after college, it was just this next part of the track. Everything on paper was great.

Right in the first month, looking back, I kind of knew something was off. I wasn't quite satisfied with it. It was good on paper but everyday I showed up for work, I just had this voice in the back of my head that said something's not right, you're not going to be fully satisfied. But the brain would kick in or the mind, and tell me to keep moving forward. Sure enough through the 11 years, the voice kept getting louder and louder until at one point, I just couldn't ignore it any longer. I had to make some kind of change in my career, I had to do something different. But my mind kept saying no, this is great. You're doing everything on schedule. So many people are envious of your job, just stick with it.

The universe put this opportunity in place for me 5 months ago where we had an organization change. My company was being transferred into another company within the corporate group, the salary and condition were the same but we need to sign on this offer. We were changing companies and I had to sign this offer saying that I would work for them. It was pretty much a formality that I had to do. I knew in the back of my head, or one can say my heart, that I shouldn't go through this. I talked so many friends, Thu was a part of that. She was super helpful. I said Thu, what do I do? My heart just doesn't want to go through with this but conditions are just so great. I talked to my other friends about this too. I had this deadline where I had to sign this contract. Up to the very last moment I was just agonizing so I called my best friend in Minnesota. It was 1am for her, I was on the west coast. What do I do? I don't think I can go through with it but this opportunity is so great. She said all the right things, she said Dustin every time I asked you about your job, you've never been so passionate about it. You've always these things like, "Its good for what I do" but you've been really been happy. Basically echo-ing all the things my other friends said. I knew I had to not go forward. But I had to write this email to say I'm not going to accept my contract and sign on this new company.

My hands were just shaking because I had to type this email. It was just so hard for me but I did it. I immediately started crying. I finally gotten through my fears to let go of this job. I envisioned doing it for so long that I realized I was gripping to this job and I realized that it was only when I let go that something new could come in. I could imagine all day long what that new thing would be but I had to just let go and basically sit in free fall. And not have a plan, not know what would be next and just sit with that and enjoy it. And before you do it, you go through this place of fear of ending up homeless on the street, or you're going to run out of money and all this negative stuff. But 4 month later, I'm still in free fall. Excellent things have happened, I have grown in so many ways that have been necessary for me that I've envisioned I've wanted to do for a long time. And there's still days now that I sit in free fall and let go. And I don't have anything to do for the day and I just have sit with it. Those are the magic moments where you embrace the free fall where you allow yourself to allow the magic happen. So many times we don't really recognize the magic or envision the magic, we envision the fear. So that's been a significant pause in my life.

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