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Casually Challenged


To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
Winston Churchill

As many of you know, I relocated due to a change in employment. Within all the adjustments that come from such an endeavor, you expect to deal with many other changes as you handle the challenges of relocation, the new surroundings, and even dealing with a new work team. Yet it was one thing alone that caught me off balance, something I never considered as it seemed so inconsequential that I never really put any thought into it. It was something that most of you will actually think is absolutely trivial, but honestly, was the one thing that took the longest to get used too.

I no longer wore a suit to work.

I know this sounds dumb, and even as I write it, I realize that it reads even dumber, but let me elaborate.

For the last decade I have been defining who I am and who I wanted to be as a professional. I reflect this with my attitude, my habits, and even my wardrobe choices, so my closet pretty is pretty much a reflection of this. As I am now the kind of professional I sought to become, suddenly all of this changed, and in a way it broke my "sacred" morning routine that helped me focus into what the day held in store. As I got dressed in the morning, I realized that my closet was either suits or overly casual stay home t-shirt and jeans. I realized how something as simple as making a tie knot or putting on cufflinks were more of a meditation to me than getting dressed, as my suits become a comfortable shield and armor with which I faced the work ay. Sure, I got some new work clothing to compensate, but something about not suiting up in the morning kept bugging me. I just couldn’t figure out I couldn't yet carve out a new routine with this more casual look. That was till I had a conversation with a gent later on that week.

The gentleman in question was someone who after 20 years of military was about to retire. His personal challenge was that he had no idea how to handle a civilian life or, worse yet, I life where he no longer had any pressing financial or professional obligations while still being young enough to have his whole life ahead of him. My answer was pretty simple. “Think of it as an extended weekend were you do whatever makes you happy.” His response made me understand my own situation.

“You spend your entire life trying to figure out what works for you. When you finally figure it out, it doesn't work for you any more because you’re no longer that same man.”

That’s when I got it. I spent so many years working to become the man that I wanted to be. Yet when I became that man, my life had changed enough that the image I had created no longer fit me. We often work so hard to become something that we stop striving or adapting when we get there. We see it with anyone whose life changes, yet they want to keep doing the same things they did before. The college man who keeps prolonging his graduation, the retiree who never wants to retire, the married man who keeps holding on to his single life's habits, or the father who refused to accept his role as a dad.They worked so hard to become good at a certain stage of life that they have trouble moving forward into a new stage in life.

So as I start now a new stage , I am tasked into walking forward and adapting who I am, again setting myself on the path to become the man I was meant to be, yet this time I start this path with the eyes of a man who’s mature enough to know that he must change and grow in the same way life changes. Sometimes we define who we want to become, yet do so from the perspective of where we are in a specific moment in life. As we grow, change, and evolve, so should the man we strive to become. That man we are meant to be should never be static image created within a particular moment in our lives, but rather one that changes and evolved with us.