“In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes.” – snagged from this Wikipedia entry.
When leaving a private slack channel, should you always say goodbye? How exactly do you say goodbye particularly when it’s not always clear if you’ll ever interact again? I’ve spent the last few hours agonizing over “slack etiquette” as I properly began leaving channels and winding down my work. I can feel such a need to have closure — to say goodbye and to say thank you. I type and retype messages continually failing to find the words particularly on such a low functioning brain right now after 7 days of non stop human interaction. Oh my poor introverted brain.
Tomorrow, I start a paid three month sabbatical from work. I sometimes fear if I speak of it too loudly, I’ll wake myself up from whatever dream I must be having where this “sabbatical” exists. I’m curious to meet Sabbatical Anne. What got me to this point in my life will likely work against me during this time and I’m curious to see what wins out. I can feel a third person point of view hovering over amused by the entire situation.
For now though, I can feel myself stuck in the liminal space — disconnected from the slack channels but emotionally still so very connected to the work at hand. I love it. There’s a part of me that’s thrilled at this idea of rediscovering who I am without work. I know the power of it partially because of previous experiences where certain stable identities were rattled. Nomading has prepared me quite well for this and it feels like emotional game time.
When I was 19, I blew out my knee. My ACL and both meniscuses were torn. The day before surgery I walked around. I felt my knee. I looked at my knee. I took a picture of it. I walked on my two legs knowing I would never walk exactly the same way. While I expected the physical changes, I didn’t expect the mental/emotional. It was strangely during this time period that my direction likely turned towards my future at Automattic. In having my identity as a high level athlete rattled, I found myself emptied and sought out expanding my view of myself. Through some horribly depressive months, my grip on my athlete identity faded and I began to realize other talents. While I still play soccer now and love being active, I’m not tied to it to feel good about myself and to find a way to show up in the world.
As I head to bed tonight, I ponder my relationship with work and wonder how this sabbatical experience will shape my identity going forward. We shall see. My initial thoughts are that I’m too attached and that I’m excited to discover who I am when that attachment is lifted.
For now, a related quote:
“You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch. Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy. You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like. If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way. Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference. Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.”- Julien Smith, The Flinch
P.S. I stopped drinking coffee on September 7th and haven’t touched it since. Time will tell if my caffeine identity shall survive this great fire.