Nina and Joe after the Run Charlie Run 5K.
I’m standing by Joe’s Jeep in an open parking lot, covered in sweat. We just finished the Run Charlie Run 5K race at The Joe (the local nickname for Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley, Jr. ballpark). We have an hour before the minor league Charleston Riverdogs take on the Augusta Greenjackets.
Do I stay in my clammy running togs or swap into dry t-shirt and shorts? House rules: I can’t bring a large bag with fresh clothes into the ballpark. But there’s no privacy by the Jeep. Not even a port-a-potty for seclusion.
I hesitate … and then strip down.
I change out in the open.
Seems a minor thing to fret over. But not too long ago, it would have been unthinkable for me. “What will people say?” controlled how I lived my life and ran my business.
Expose my body? Never.
Reveal myself – what I really think and believe? No way.
What will colleagues say when I tell them I’ve retired? Will they think I’m a quitter? Couldn’t hack the entrepreneurial grind? How do I “spin” my desire to leave solo law practice … for the unknown … so it comes across as a powerful, positive choice?
Turns out, that was wasted energy. The contacts I had tried so feverishly to cultivate over the years…? Couldn’t have cared less.
I was fungible. Replaceable. Forgettable. They’ve already found another business attorney to refer clients to.
Like the passers-by on the way to the ballgame, they’re caught up in their own world. Their own thoughts. Their own agendas. They’re not looking at me.
It’s like being back in high school when I felt invisible …
… but it’s also really liberating.
Because I’m now free. Free from what do other people think? Free to explore what it means to live the next half of my life “out loud.” Unafraid to express my opinions. Try on new ideas. Play new roles. Try new activities.
As for the friends and colleagues who are excited about my new path … well, like my husband Joe, they’re wriggling into fresh clothes right alongside me.
We’re changing out in the open together.