In December 2014, I went on maternity leave. In October 2015, I relocated with my family to Eastern Europe and as a consequence left the job I had assumed I would return to in some capacity. I set up my business, let it sit idle for a few months as we settled into our new life, and in January 2016 I started taking tentative steps back into the world of work.
To be completely frank, it’s been daunting. A year feels like a very long time to have been out of the loop, especially when that year has been spent focusing on something so very different. I’d all but abandoned my previously vibrant Twitter account, I’d stopped following the blogs I used to read regularly, I’d missed conferences and events where such valuable conversations happen. I was also still carrying the weight of the loss of confidence I’d suffered (and written about) in the year before going on maternity leave, meaning that the step back in felt like an even greater leap.
Learning Technologies in January was both a perfect opportunity to start stepping back in and a nerve-wracking deep end to jump into. I quickly realised, though, that the intervening year had felt much longer to me than to everyone else. I was welcomed back into the fold of this very special L&D community and immediately started having interesting and promising conversations about new professional opportunities open to me as a freelancer. And with this came another realisation: I have the luxury of choice. While we live in Bulgaria, I am so fortunate that I can spend most of my time with my daughter; there is no pressure for me to do a certain amount of work each month. I know this situation won’t last forever, and I know how lucky I am to be in this situation at this point in my life. So I owe it to myself to make the most of it. To step back and really think about what I love doing, what I’m good at, where I see my career going in future and what I can do now to help make sure it gets there.
I’m discovering that life is just a series of learning curves. Every new phase brings its own challenges – but also its own opportunities. I think I’m getting better and better at taking advantage of those opportunities and using them to spur myself on to rise to the challenges.