A few days ago I published a letter announcing my departure from AM and Bon Agroindustrial, as a result of their merger with Agua Planeta Azul, entitled "It's time. I flow, I reinvent myself, I fly =)" (you can read it here).
In this piece I say that "From now on and for the first time in my adult life I have a completely blank canvas in front of me"; and therefore I have decided to tell you about my experience filling up this canvas.
This is not a diary of joys and sorrows, nor an operational status report; It is not an empty attempt to win followers, likes or comments, nor is it a call to the job market. This is a space where, with great transparency and using all the colors of the emotional rainbow that a process of change like this implies, I will tell you about my experience, seen from the humble lens of my own change.
I hope that one or two see themselves reflected in these lines, and that they find light, reflection and joy that leads them to think, to grow and even to laugh a little.
Here we go...
When you have such a long professional career at such a young age, it's usually the result of having assumed responsibility roles at a very young age (too early, some might argue). At 18 you should be getting to know yourself, discovering what you want, what you don't want, what you are passionate about, what bores you and so on. You must be exploring the world, changing social circles, making silly mistakes, forming your identity, building purpose. At 18 years old, your decision map normally includes things like where to study, whether to travel or not, whether to go to "Shots" or "Zambra" after classes. At least that's what i'm told a "normal" life of an 18 years old is like.
When, on the other hand, the decisions you have to make involve whether or not a person keeps their job, whether to introduce a new product or eliminate an existing one that is not working, then the bet suddenly gets significantly higher. You're risking your identity, and you don't even know it.
When you add to this equation the fact that the "net" results of your decisions are positive, and the business grows...and grows...and grows, and you do it well for more than 10 years sustained, you have a circle of satisfaction and growth that feeds itself and runs on its own. You value your achievements...you come to believe that you are your achievements.
But when at 33 years old, for the first time in your adult life, you hand over the company that has been your creative playground for over a decade; when the stage of expression of your "genius zone" ceases to exist and that circle of achievement stops ... well, what you end up facing is a major identity crisis. Who you think you are, who you have been, is no more.
Reinventing yourself sounds cool and fascinating, but there is also a side to this process that hardly anyone exposes: in order to reinvent yourself, there is a part of you that has to stop being; by definition, to reinvent yourself, there is a part of you that must die.
When you are single and get married, your single version dies to make way for your married version; when you get divorced you have to move on to a totally different version of yourself than when you're married; when you have children, when you move to another country, when you change jobs, when someone close to you dies, these are all moments in life that invite us to stop being caterpillars and become butterflies. But make no mistake, in the midst of the process, when the caterpillar builds its little house and shuts itself up for weeks to transform itself, it has to trust its process, it has to believe that what will be is better than it was, it has to trust that It will be a butterfly in the midst of such darkness.
In my case, I have days where creativity is buzzing, I have ideas, I feel great, I learn new things that I never thought I would learn, these are days when I'm totally convinced that I'm the next Steve Jobs (female and latina). There are also days when someone asks me: "so...now what?" With a cynical tone and my ideas start getting a little out of order, I stop thinking about the colors of my butterfly wings and want to go home to a bucket of ice cream and watch Bridgerton on Netflix. I am human, I have the ability to be sad and totally optimistic at the same time.
The important thing here is not if it affects me or not, if there are more days of one type than another, or if I answer stupid questions assertively. The important thing here is that there is beauty in this process, there is beauty in being a caterpillar, in locking ourselves up for a while to decide who we want to be aside from our achievements, our roles, our awards and salaries.
This canvas is being filled with the entire spectrum of colors, there are bright yellows of joy, as well as greens of hope; there are also blacks of sadness and reds of frustration. Each color shows me what I value about myself and others, each color is my compass to find the next right space.
Being able to stop, with the curiosity of an 8-year-old girl and the maturity of a 33-year-old woman, to discover the purpose of this next chapter in my life is a privilege that I am not taking lightly. With its peaks and its valleys, it's a process from which I will come out wiser, more human... more alive.
I hope, in your own moments of change, you are able to extend before you a blank canvas, and that you embrace the colors you have at hand to fill it, because they are all a mirror of your values, your passions and your fears.
Be curious, be playful, be human.