Lately I’ve been tormented by the feeling I’ve been set back to “square one.” By the pandemic. By divorce. By the increasingly impossible cost of living in my city. By the social consequences of prolonged “bubble” restrictions.
Square one… the words haunt me, and send me spinning into a downward spiral. Maybe if it was just in one thing, but it feels sometimes like it’s in everything. Square one of my career… Square one of relationships… Square one of finances… Square one of friendships.
There’s an appeal to “square one.” The freedom and possibility of a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank page. “But I don’t want to be back at square one!!!” I scream quietly to myself. “Haven’t I been there enough already?!?”
And yet. I also know I’ve come so far, and I refuse to accept that I’m truly at square one again. So I take a stack of white paper and cut out a whole bunch of clean blank squares. And start filling them with recent, pandemic-era proof I’m not at square one.
Here’s what some of them say:
- Completed a Graduate Certificate in Tourism Management
- Camped on top of a mountain (my first backcountry overnight hiking trip)
- Got my Level 2 Kayaking certification (and didn’t drown!)
- Survived a natural disaster with a tour group under my care (again!)
- Kept (most of) my plants alive for over a year
- Got a fish
- Received the “best review ever” from a tour guest which resulted in at least five congratulatory emails from different managers and owners of my tour company
- Rode my motorcycle in a girls group Halloween costume ride to spread joy
- Surpassed the 5-year marriage apocalypse survival mark
- Went on a date in a canoe
- Won the “Cruising and Crushing It” tour guide award at work
- Saw the Northern Lights!
- Started teaching a 6-week training course for new tour driver guides
Today, I’m adding a new square: “Was invited to guest speak at a conference and inspired a new generation of tourism students.” Having myself been to many conferences and events as a student or attendee, it was a pretty exciting honour to be invited to speak and share my experience as a tourism industry professional, and be told how inspiring my words are to the students in attendance.
It was also a powerful reminder of how far I’ve come since I started my New Game Plus a.k.a. the journey of rebuilding, adventure therapy, and becoming a tour guide.
I am not at square one. I’m at least at square fifty seven … and counting.