A Chance Conversation Stirs Up Deep Feelings About Passion

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PASSION. When you read, hear or say the word what comes to mind? Do you think of love, sex, food, coffee, work, or even a hobby?

I went to a cocktail party last week and typical to this type of setting, the question of, “What do you do?” came up. Most people shuffle their feet when I say that I manage an IVF clinic. The next question asked is always about the length of time I have been with Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC). Recently the response I have been getting is one that surprises me. When I tell people I have been with BFC for 13 years, the look I get is quizzical and often followed by this standard comment: “How could you possibly be at one place for so long!”

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I know I am a dying breed in a world that glorifies the 5-year plan. People stay in their careers but rarely do they remain this long with one company. At the party, a woman with a special interest in the topic kept probing me. It was almost like I was a phenomena and she needed to get to the root of what had kept me in my job for over a decade.

She asked me about my passion. She was not content to let me just say I loved my job – she wanted the meat, she wanted to know the “why”. She wanted to know what dedicated me to showing up at the same place almost 5,000 days in a row. I quickly started to take stock of what is now almost 40% of my adult life dedicated to one institution. The onion was being peeled back.

My role at BFC is to keep the wheels in the background going. It is here, in this space, that I get to quietly but firmly keep those on the front line going. It is here that I am small but powerful like the rudder of ship, the battery in a car, the heart of a human. If any of these parts go down then everything shuts down. Pressure right?

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My work life and my personal life are mirrored in many ways.  In my personal life I’m a runner. Just as my role is to keep the operations of the clinic going, I am happiest when my legs are doing the same thing, churning and turning over and over in sync. In the past 13 years at BFC, I have seen our company grow and been a part of every aspect of the successes and the challenges.

As I tried to explain to the lady who posed this question I realized for the first time I was staring at a tightly closed box. If I told her, I would be exposing a very vulnerable part of myself but she needed to hear.

My passion is driven by my purpose; my purpose is driven from this box. As time stood still at the cocktail function I realized that I have kept this box very guarded. This box is at my core. This core has been through a lot and this core has been hurt, the kind of hurt that leaves scars.

I told her that I know what it is to show up for life with goodness and integrity only to be unfairly knocked down. I know what it is to hope for something, to pray for it, to give it your all and to still lose it. I know what it is like to learn one of the hardest lessons in life of when to keep trying and when to let go. I know what it is like to make a decision and to have society remind you daily that your decision does not line up with its definition of success. I know what it is to have a faith and lose it. I know these things and many more life lessons all too well. I guess you could say I know pain, like many of the patients I see every day.

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So I also know what it is to set a goal and go after it with all you have. I know what it is to fight through pain and reach the finish line. I know what it is to wipe hot tears and put on the smile to the world and keep going. I know what it is to find faith again. I know what it is to pause and intentionally set where you want to go. I know what it is to have colleagues as friends. I know what it is to have friends who become family. I know what it is to have family fiercely defend you.  I know what it is to learn to pick yourself up and love yourself again. I know what it is to look at the tapestry of my life and see the voluminous threads of love, faith, compassion, kindness, humor, integrity, authenticity, and vulnerability. I know all this and I see it in our patients too.

The lady was still staring at me so I told her some more about our patients. Our patients who embrace every definition of the word brave because they have been touched by the pain of infertility and continue to believe. When they walk into our space feeling bruised, and leave with hope and possibilities, I know we have done our job, and done it well.

It’s that transformation in our patients that pushes us all at BFC to give our best and live our passion. Being the best propels growth. I am part of an extraordinary team that makes the possibility of the other side of a story a reality. Being best is our purpose and there is simply no other way to show up for life.

The woman who wanted to know the “why” perhaps felt she had received her answer. She looked around the room and signaled someone she knew. She moved on but before she did, I caught a glint in her eyes.

Was it admiration? Perhaps. I think she finally got the reason I’ve stayed in the same job for over 13 years. When it comes down to it, it has always been about the people we serve and their faith in us.

– Rachel de Gale

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