“Sometimes I feel just like a hamster, running around and around on his wheel!” I used to really feel this way when I had the day job serving as a government executive. In fact, I often used the hamster wheel metaphor when describing working diligently on a project that started out being important to the powers that be, only to be abandoned when the impulsive topic of the day popped up.
Often what looked at first like progress on a project or task was just another scurry around the circle. These endeavors often took considerable exhausting effort and personal sacrifice with limited returns only for everything to wind up back where it started.
In retrospect, I see that I was really just a misfit for the roles and organizations in which I found myself; roles limited to the bureaucratic, linear, and structured lane of the hamster wheel.
I wore the mask of a dedicated employee almost as good as anyone in my shoes could, focusing on my strengths of technical writing, data analysis, academics, and leadership and management theory. I did my best to punch the tickets to survive at least and get ahead at best within the constraints of my personal moral code.
It wasn’t easy, but the reward for staying on the wheel and coloring within the lines, or at least appearing to, was a slow but relatively steady progression “up the ladder”. It provided a respectable living for me and my family, and for that I am grateful. But the personal cost was high. It took great effort to repress my truth. And wearing a mask for too long makes you risk losing yourself for good.
In reality, after much life experience and deep introspection, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can be a square peg in a round hole, but it sure won’t feel right and does not serve you.
But if you are fortunate, the universe will come back and give you a cosmic kick or two, over and over again, as needed. It took me awhile to figure that out.
A few cosmic kicks later, I’ve realized that I’m definitely more of the square peg variety and that’s not a bad thing. Also, cosmic kicks on the surface may not seem like good things, but they present powerful opportunities for self-awareness, insight, growth, and positive change. So here I go now, casting away the nonsense of disguises and pointless busy-ness. I have jumped off the wheel and am embracing the journey to reconnect with my deeper, authentic self.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are” – C. J. Jung
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