When Life Gives You a Break, Take It

As Humbling As It May Be

At my high school, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker was the dance club’s annual tradition. Soon after the school year began, roles were assigned and months of dedicated practice would follow. There were no tryouts, and as I recall, the two teachers who ran the production determined lead roles over a bottle of wine. Furthermore, seniority ruled: As a freshman, I marched in formation with all the other toy soldiers in musty old band uniforms inherited from the local boys’ prep school; in sophomore year most of my classmates were gingerbread men and flutes, so I was lucky to be dancing the Waltz of the Flowers; and in junior year, I ascended to the role of Snow Queen.

By the time our senior year rolled around, we were more than primed to be awarded the coveted lead roles. As a class, we were a good-spirited bunch overall and had patiently endured years of harsh treatment by our “big sisters” who took pleasure in being mean to the underclassmen. Now it was our time. We had waited our turn. Seniority ruled and we were finally seniors. The lead roles were ours! But wait — stop the music. The powers that be decided that they would now assign parts based on talent and not seniority. What an outrage!

I was in bed with a cold the day the assignments were announced. My best friend, Luisa, dialed my number the minute she got home. “You won’t believe what happened.” She then reported that when a junior was given the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, my classmates clamored for justice. They wanted a senior in that role and had put forth my name. Though I might have appreciated the groundswell of endorsement by my peers, I had the uneasy feeling it had more to do with their need for fairness and less to do with my talents as a dancer. Translated, this was their message: We don’t want to go by talent. We want Virginia! Talk about humbling. It’s not exactly the grassroots chant you dream of hearing.

Gina, the junior who based on talent would have been the Sugar Plum Fairy, was a much better dancer. She took private lessons and did piqué turns to perfection. I was better suited for the Arabian dancer role initially reserved for me before my classmates revolted. Yet despite all this, I accepted the lead role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Sometimes, as humbling as it may be, it’s your turn for a big break.

That Would Be Nice

What kind of breaks do we experience in our adult lives? If you’re thinking: Yeah right, if only I could catch a break, remember that sometimes breaks come in strange packages:

  • When Barry, a software engineer complained of being bored at work, he realized that the temporary respite from overdrive gave him just what he needed: time to invest in researching his next career move.

  • Marty, an executive and new mother enjoyed both of these roles but was exhausted all the time. When her husband’s promotion made it necessary to move cross country, Marty was surprised when she was able to land a job within her specialty so quickly. It came with a smaller salary and scope of responsibility, and at first that felt like a step back. Upon further reflection, Marty recognized it as the just the break she needed.

  • Back in 2001 when I was at my corporate job, my plan was to sock away a specific amount of money before leaving to start my coaching business. When I met my husband and became engaged, that allowed me to move up my timeline. Some commented, “That’s nice that you can resign now because you’re getting married. Not everyone can do that.” I briefly checked with my ego and considered whether to stick with my original timeline just to prove I could do it on my own. I decided that wouldn’t be necessary. It felt right to say yes to where life was taking me.

Why is it that often we are more comfortable struggling than accepting the break life is giving us? Perhaps it’s because getting a break can also mean life is daring us to do things differently, reevaluate our priorities, or venture down that unknown path.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Break

Breaks might initially appear as dilemmas. Taking the break may be seen as a step up, down, or sideways. It might feel humbling or require you to stretch in a way you don’t feel completely ready for.

This Week:

  • Is life offering you a break that you hadn’t noticed until now? What would it mean to take it?
  • If you could custom design a break, what would it be? What would you do with it?

Whether your next break is simply a chance to catch your breath and collect yourself, a reminder to tend to something else in your life, or an opportunity for growth, what’s important is how you use it.

When life gives you a break, take it.

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

© 2012, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.

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