Finding Your Sunrise
In 2013 I decided to take the plunge. I had been working for the same company for years, in the same location, and I had capped out on my growth. Unless my manager decided to move or suddenly keeled over, there was nowhere for me to go in that office in Kentucky. I was single, I had savings, and I was ready for the next adventure. So I turned in ample notice to my manager and used that as a deadline to pressure myself to find a new job in Virginia. June 2013 was it. I moved to Richmond, VA.
I didn't actually resign from SAIC. Instead I was asked to spend a few weeks in DC helping out with a struggling contract. My townhouse in Richmond sat vacant for three weeks while I did this, and in July of 2013 I moved to Alexandria, VA, after being offered a permanent placement on the contract I had helped. I was excited. I had taken a challenge, turned it around so well in three weeks that I was offered a job. It was one of the hardest interviews I never knew I had. My spirits soared and for a while I more positive about my future than ever before.
Whether it was the constant improvement that was never good enough for the client; the humdrum of a routine that had grown entirely too familiar (after all, it was seeking new challenges that brought me here); or the constant churn of the contract world, I began to wear down. After a little over two years I took on my next challenge. And it, too, eventually lost its luster.
By 2015 I was living in Stafford and driving to DC every morning. I would wake up at 4:00 am, leave my house by 5:00 am, and walk in to the office by 6:00. I hate 4:00 am. It's a time that no one should experience. I missed my days in Kentucky when I would wake up at 6:00, take a jog, come home and get ready and not be in the office until 9:00 am. My grumpy, non-morning-person self told me I was not going to wake up at 3:00 am to take that same jog now. I began to grow miserable and let things bother me when they didn't need to.
A 5:00 am drive is good for two things, I found out. The first I already knew: you could beat most traffic and make it to work in an hour, instead of 3. The second was for thinking, for 5:00 am epiphanies. When I lived in Alexandria my commute was 30 minutes by metro and I'd spend it reading a book, checking emails, keeping myself distracted. Now I spend my commute driving, arguing with Pandora (really, Bob Marley does not belong on my Seether-inspired rock station!) and paying attention to the streams of traffic. 5:00 am is a time for reflection.
It's Summer of 2017 and I've been making this drive for 2 years. Each morning I cross Memorial Bridge. In the Summer it's beautiful: the sun is rising, leaving the sky in shades of fading night and glowing pink. The trees and grasses are green. I watch the Lincoln Memorial grow closer as I drive over the bridge. I watch the top of the Jefferson memorial fade behind the treeline, and the Washington Monument disappear to my right. I park my car and begin my six block walk to work. I move around the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; I walk around the border of Ethiopia. I get an experience that I never thought I would, growing up as I did in rural Kentucky.
5:00 am epiphanies have reminded me that while others have an impact on our morale, the greatest impact is ourselves. We can make ourselves miserable or happy. We can allow life to grow prosaic, or we can find the romance and mystery in the every day. Find your own sunrise and let it make your life beautiful for you. Remember it when you feel like you're being ground down.
Leave a comment and let me know what you do to keep your morale high