Gisele Aubin offers an honest look at what it means to change careers mid-life and how she personally found her own bliss. “In Transit” is not your typical step-by-step guide to success type of book, but rather, it offers a realistic, emotional, and ultimately, messy but satisfying story of how one woman figured out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. And readers will find empathy, hope, and ideas to move forward in their own careers in these pages.
Gisele Aubin is a woman after my own heart. She has known the stress of the corporate world, and when her job came to an end, rather than feel discouraged and unemployed, she saw it as an opportunity to take a sabbatical from working and instead spend the time reinventing herself, trying to figure out whether she wanted to continue in the corporate world or to become self-employed. At first, she didn’t know what she would do if she did become an entrepreneur-what kind of business could she start? And a few times, she felt swayed toward returning to a regular job as different opportunities arose, but each time, she felt her spirit rising up against the idea, so she continued on her transition to self-employment, or as she calls it “you-are-on-your-own-and-good-luck-with-that!”
Anyone who has worked in the corporate world knows the stress it can cause, the demands coming from every direction, and the overall craziness of it all. While I never had a job like Gisele where I had to travel a lot, I could completely relate to her constant frustration of trying to keep up with communicating with people in a world that never stops communicating:
“The long flights are the best. I totally zoom out from the cabin around me, and zoom in on my screen. Those four and a half hours in the air are like eight in the office. Where else do you have the luxury to be shielded from the endless phone calls, emails, instant messaging, and whatever other ways people have to reach you? The day they allow mobile phones and Internet access on all flights is going to be the day I stop commuting, I hope.”
Furthermore, Gisele’s corporate life was so busy and filled with travel that she rarely had time for herself. She admits that she has hardly any personal life or excitement, always keeping sadness at bay with humor, such as when she comments that “You know you are in serious need of a life when excitement is a tossed salad at an airport terminal.” Even her weekends were filled with work:
“I did not ever, ever catch up unless I played alone while nobody else was. The only time to get ahead was the weekend or the middle of the night. Then, of course, I might have won the catch-up game that day, but lost on other fronts such as sleep, relationships, and health just to name a few.”
And then the company she works for suddenly is sold, giving her the choice to stay with the new company or the opportunity to choose unemployment, or rather a one year sabbatical to rediscover herself and transition into self-employment. Choosing the latter, Gisele re-cultivates her relationship with her boyfriend, travels to Europe, takes classes, and remembers what it is simply to have fun again-as when she and her sister surprise her parents by showing up for breakfast in their pajamas-and finally, she figures out just what she wants the rest of her work and personal life to look like.
Watching Gisele go through this transition was fascinating for me. After her years in the corporate world, she was somewhat like an adrenaline junkie, and she constantly refers to the hamster in her brain that will not stop but always needs to be busy, planning, scheduling, figuring out what’s next. She knows she needs to learn to relax and stay in the moment, but as with most of us, that’s easier said than done, and precisely why I and so many others will relate to her story.