Going Back to the Start

by Susan Pogorzelski on August 30, 2009 · 20 comments

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard.
I’m going back to the start…

Coldplay, “The Scientist”

the ascent by jena ardell (flickr)

These past two years have been tumultuous, to say the least, although looking back, I don’t think I regret one bit of it. It’s been a roller coaster ride of slow uphill battles and fast declines, filled with anxiety and thrills as I coasted on an uncertain track. Tomorrow, I return to the beginning of the ride as I begin a new full time job at my old place of employment, in my old department, in my old position.

I’ve come full circle.

In 2007, I left my job at a local bank because I was determined to find a job in my field. I was fresh out of college and eager to use my degree in English, eager to return to my love of writing and find that creative outlet that I thought had been lost amid numbers and data-entry.

I was ecstatic to move into a new position with a company’s corporate communications department, a job that, ultimately, had a greater negative affect on me than I had realized at the time. My decision to leave was one I had questioned for months before handing in my letter of resignation, and though the next two years of temp jobs was both exciting and discouraging, it was the right one for all that I had learned, all I had met, and all I had rediscovered within myself since.

These past two months had been difficult, as even temporary work was hard to come by. And while I’ve been a huge advocate for this type of employment, I had recently become discouraged. I craved some type of permanence and stability; I wanted responsibility and a challenge. While being in-between assignments afforded me time for creative projects, I found myself less productive than ever.

I longed for structure, longed for work.

I actually found myself longing for a traditional 9-5.

A friend and ex-colleague told me about an open position at my old job. I hemmed and I hawed and I questioned myself. Could I return to my old job? Was that even possible? Would it seem like I was taking a step back? Would it be a positive decision or would it feel desperate?

The more I thought about it, the more the pros outweighed the cons. I loved my job while I had been there, but I left because I was young and stubborn and ambitious, because that next opportunity had been so enticing and, in many ways, though it ended negatively, it had been a learning experience.

And where I’ve been and who I’ve become since is something I will never, ever regret.

I’ve since realized that the fixed track I’d been following was laid out all along, leading me here: right to this moment, to this experience, to this second chance. Interconnected, it has brought me back to the beginning but with lessons learned, a knowledge more profound, a sense of self better realized.

One thing has led to another, and that has all led to a balance of structure and creativity that I hadn’t even realized I had been seeking, that I never believed was really possible.

Once upon a time, I may have dreaded returning to an old job for fear that it was a step back. Now, instead, I have butterflies of excitement as I think about friendly, familiar colleagues and the challenges and responsibilities that await me, realizing that it’s not so much where you’re going, but where you’ve been and how far you’ve come that makes the difference.

A new ride is about to begin. And for the first time in a long time, I’m excited to see what this one has in store.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristina August 30, 2009

Susan, you are awesome. I have been apart of your journey for only a short time, but to read this and see the circle is amazing. The feeling of things being…complete, sealed, solid…rather than that circle still being open. I am so happy for you and wish you a wonderful first day at your new position!

Goooooo Susan!!!!


Tom August 30, 2009

This reminds me a bit of something that got me interested in a book called “The 4-Hour Work Week.” It was the idea of being in one of those standard social situations where someone asks “What do you do?” and instead of answering with what you did to make money, you answered with what you did with your life, like “I travel, race with bulls, dance in Argentinian tango competitions and do Chinese kickboxing,” or something like that.

I think I just thought of that because I wondered how you’d answer that kind of question now. Would you say “I work at the bank,” or “I’m a writer,” or “I’m a blogger,” or what?

Anyway, something to think about. 🙂 Glad to hear you’re feeling good, Susan!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin August 31, 2009

Kris: I’m so, so glad that you’ve been along on this journey with me, no matter how long or how short, I’m just grateful that you’re there. Your support and friendship has been so appreciated, as has everyone’s who’s been along on this ride. It’s funny that you say it’s like a feeling of being complete, because I do very much feel that way — that everything has led to this, and I’m excited to see what this will lead to next. Thanks, Kris!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin August 31, 2009

Tom: Your comment is so interesting! I’ve heard people say that they would rather have someone say “who are you” rather than “what do you do,” because those labels of “banker” and “blogger” or whatever your title is really do end up defining you as a first impression. I love that people answer with what they’ve done — these are the things that really make up the person, these are the experiences that make them an individual, that should be admired and remembered, that are important (especially Chinese kickboxing!) 😉

How would I answer either question? What do I do or who am I? I’m not entirely sure because there’s so much more to a person than a one word summation. But I think the word that can best begin to answer those questions is “writer.” It’s what I do and it’s who I am, at the very core. And yet, there’s so much more.

Such an interesting thought, Tom, and one that I’d like to explore further. But for now, let’s try to open that up here — how would you respond to a question like that? Or how would you pose the question to others? Would you ask them “what do you do” or say, “what have you done, who are you, what do you love?”


Positively Present August 31, 2009

OMG, that song “The Scientist,” makes me cry every time I hear it. But those are great lyrics to pick out of it for your new start. I know what’s it like to have been through some rough years (umm, hello, aren’t those your 20s?!) and to want to return to something familiar. I completely know what you mean about it feeling like a step back, but it’s really not. Trust me. I’ve been there and now I’m years passed that “step back” and don’t regret a second of it. After all, everything I’ve done has led me to where I am today and, personally, I think that’s a pretty good place! 🙂


Matt Cheuvront August 31, 2009

It’s very interesting to hear that you have come full circle and ‘ended up back where you started’ so to speak. I think it shows an amazing amount of bravery that a lot are probably overlooking to walk back into a door you walked out of. As you have said, your time away was well spent – you learned a lot about yourself, and your future experience with your old company will be extremely valuable with your newfound outlook on your personal and professional life. Cheers!


Elisa August 31, 2009

I have to agree with Matt, I think going back to a place that you left (especially with such an amount of time since then) is something to be considered very brave rather than a retreat or starting over. You’ve spent a lot of time in between learning more about yourself, your wants/needs, and growing up a bit in the process. I someow doubt this is the end of your career train, moreso a stop on the journey. 🙂


robin August 31, 2009

Good luck to you in your new endeavors-no shame to knowing when it is time to move to the next thing-even if it seems you have done that thing before.


Tom August 31, 2009

See, I usually respond to the “so what do you do?” question right now by saying “I’m in HR,” even if right now I’m not in my chosen field. And truthfully I do feel like that answer is justified, although I usually follow it up my telling people that I’m not working in my field, and instead have taken some time off to travel.

I feel like eventually, even if I’m working in HR, I’m going to start telling people I’m a freelance travel writer. Because if my life goes the way I’d like it to, I’ll be doing a lot of traveling and a lot of writing.

And I have no doubt my life will go exactly the way I’d like it to. One way or another. 😉


Meghan September 1, 2009


I’m so proud of you for making this decision! It may have been hard but it will pay off in the end. And you’re going to kick butt in the position – any company is fortunate to have you.

On a side note, I see nothing wrong with going full circle; sometimes, you need to run around to figure out exactly where you ought to be. 🙂


Sam September 1, 2009

What a wonderfully reflective post! I am also proud of you for making this decision. I know how difficult it was for you, and something you really struggled with. But, I think this will be a great opportunity for you. You have a fantastic outlook, and the past two years have given you more perspective than you realize. I truly hope that you find the fulfillment you’ve been looking for!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin September 3, 2009

Dani: It’s so funny you say that because I LOVE this song. The first time I heard those lyrics I have above, I was like, “Man! Chris Martin, how did you KNOW that’s exactly what I’m feeling?” A terrific song that just seemed to fit so accurately to many moments in my life, this one in particular.

It’s also funny that you say so casually that your 20s is a rough time. I’m finding so many people who are older commenting to me, saying that they wouldn’t be a 20something again for all the money in the world, which is interesting, to say the least. It’s supposed to be a time of great freedom, but really it has turned into a time of immense uncertainty — at least, for many. Stuck in between adulthood and childhood, well, you’re just stuck. I think the important thing I need to remember is that I’m not stuck anymore, and that I am moving forward, even though it may not have felt like it, especially considering this decision.

I love your thought that everything you’ve done has led you to where you are today. I believe that. I believe that so much. Every move, every decision, every moment builds upon another to make up your own, individual life, to make up who you are. I love that, I need to remember that. Who knows where this will take me next?

I just wrote a blog post to you in this reply, Dani, but your comment was so great and offered a lot to think about. Thanks! 🙂


Susan Pogorzelski - admin September 3, 2009

Matt: I appreciate your considering the decision brave, as I hadn’t thought of it in that capacity at all. Rather, I thought of it more like swallowing my pride and ceasing to be stubborn, truth be told. It’s true I’ve walked back in a door I once walked out of (I love that image!), but walking back in, I realize just how much things have changed, how much I have changed. The scenery doesn’t look the same, and though it may be familiar, I have a very strong feeling that it’s another door entirely, leading to the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be. It feels a bit like a second chance…I wonder how many people would take that second chance if it came around for them? Interesting. Makes you wonder Thanks for the comment, Matt!

Elisa: I love your encouragement! As I said to Matt above, I hadn’t thought of it as something brave, but rather as a positive decision in the face of a lot of recent discouragement and negativity. I think I have learned enough, changed enough, to bring all of that with me. Already, four days in, I see a difference in myself and the work that I do. Maybe that’s what makes the difference? And I’m hoping it’s opening up a new chapter in my life…Excited to see where it may lead 🙂 Thanks, as always, for everything, Elisa!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin September 3, 2009

Robin: I really appreciate you stopping by, as well as sharing your thoughts! A part of your comment that struck me was “even if it seems you’ve done it before.” It does seem that way, and yet I’m finding that it’s very much different at the same time. I love that, it gives me hope, helps me realize how far I’ve really come, makes me realize how we all change with time, though we may return to something that feels familiar. Thanks so much for the comment and well wishes…Wishing the best to you as well!

Tom: LOVE this: “And I have no doubt my life will go exactly the way I’d like it to. One way or another.” Now THAT is the power of positive thinking! 😉 You really sparked some thoughts in your comments that I’ll have to think about and explore further…Do you tell people what you do now? Do you tell people what you hope to be doing? Interesting thoughts…Love that you spawned those ideas! Thanks, Tom! 🙂


Susan Pogorzelski - admin September 3, 2009

Meghan: Thanks for coming by! And I have to say, your enthusiasm is infectious (and so appreciated!). I like how you say it helps to run around to figure out where you’re going…I feel like that’s exactly where I am now…Something brought me here, led me to this. I couldn’t pass the opportunity up, couldn’t let my fears of returning, fears I had failed, prevent this move. Because I haven’t failed. I look at where I was then, look at where I am now, and I see it all as an opportunity. Every decision leads to something…As I said above, I’m excited to see what this new adventure has in store. Thanks for the comment! I keep forgetting how close we are in location — we’ll have to plan a meet-up sometime! 🙂 Hope you’re well!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin September 3, 2009

Sam: I can’t tell you how much your friendship, encouragement, and support has meant as I thought about this decision. You were one of two people I spoke with, from whom I sought advice, and I appreciate all of it. It’s true that the past two years have provided that much-needed perspective…And, honestly, I’ve grown up a lot since I was there. I hope to take everything I’ve learned — both professionally and personally — and apply it to this position. As I said before, who knows where it will lead, but I have every faith that it’s leading *somewhere*. And that feels pretty darn good 🙂 Love your comments, Sam — appreciate your friendship even more. Thanks!


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