Walking Out Over and Over Again

July 12, 2011 0 Comments

Originally shared at walkoutwalkon.net

We often become walkouts long before we call ourselves walkouts. We make choices to walk out of systems, lifestyles, and beliefs that no longer serve us long before we understand ourselves as walkouts or find our new community. We do what we need to do unconsciously at first, not realizing the self-preserving choices we’ve made until later. Good choices happen just like bad choices—while we’re busy living our lives, sometimes without us noticing and almost always without us fully comprehending. At least this has been my experience.

When I think about how and when I became a walkout, I realize I’ve walked out of many things. I stopped placing value in my academic identity three semesters prior graduating from college. In my early 20s, I left a stable, in many ways great, job that didn’t engage me in order to start working on what I really cared about. Over time—and this is what’s been most meaningful—I’ve walked out of the idea of a traditional career path for a 20-something American woman with my general upbringing and background in the United States.

In a recent blog, Deborah Frieze wrote about how walking out isn’t about abandoning institutions, it’s about abandoning beliefs. These are the beliefs I’ve walked on to. Knowing what they are has required confronting old beliefs and simply getting clear about other beliefs I’ve always held, but haven’t always had the courage to speak.

  • I don’t believe people need to aspire to one primary career, following a career path that looks like a single rising trajectory–college, then maybe graduate school, then a full-time 9-5 gig. I believe people can/should have a few different careers over time if they feel called to do so.
  • I don’t believe young people have little to nothing to offer the world in terms of ideas and solutions until they’ve gone to school and received advanced degrees.
  • I no longer believe business is almost always a bad thing. I believe money can be a force for good when, like any other resource, it is used wisely.
  • I believe people of all ages and backgrounds have knowledge and insights to offer their community and the world.
  • I believe everyone has a right to a living wage, healthcare, and access to learning communities and institutions should they wish to join them.
  • I believe women have unique skills and talents to offer the world and are essential to healing our world and creating new, smarter systems across all fields.
  • I believe a person’s connection to their work and community directly relates to their health. I believe organizations and businesses have the potential to increase our individual and collective health.
  • I believe our greatest wounds as individuals and as a society also hold within them our greatest strengths and opportunities.

Living from our new beliefs is the challenge. To make it easier, I try to remember the following:

1) The world needs walkouts who walk on. When we make a choice to walk out of what no longer serves us (or the people and planet we care about), we embolden others to do the same.

2) Walking out isn’t something that happens just once in one area of our lives. For me, being a walk out who walks on means accepting the fact that, as I work to make a contribution to the world and collaborate with others in doing so, I’ll need to walk out many times over the course of my life. Accepting this doesn’t mean I won’t ever commit to things; all it means is that I accept the fact that like everything else, those things change, and I am willing to work with change—that change (and the discomfort and possibility it brings) is the norm rather than the exception. This is much easier said than done, but it’s the most powerful belief I’m walking on to. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but walking on either way.


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