I grew up in a conservative and frugal household and community. Although I am so thankful that I learned the true definition of work ethic and loyalty, I’m not sure how I feel about also learning that you should always have a job, you should always play it safe, and don’t ever make a move without having things well thought out with a back up plan. And always have a job.
As I take a snapshot of my work history, I have come to realize that I have ALWAYS had a job. Actually, I have always had multiple jobs. Come to think of it, 2013 will be the first year of my life that I record only one W-2 when I file. You name it, I have done it; Agriculture, Retail, Tax Assembly, the list goes on. My craziest years of multiple jobs took place at multiple Malls (yes, MALLS) that involved a lot of weekends and holidays behind a cash wrap (the place where you get rung up for your over priced goods while simultaneously agreeing to purchase “add-ons” that will enhance your experience or increase your savings). Thanks to the Corporate Retail world, I can sell anything to anyone and that’s not a bad thing; until I sold myself on quitting my job and chasing my dreams.
Yes, I quit my job. I do not have anything lined up except for a prototype and a How-To book. Oh wait, I also have half of a business plan and a lot of passion. I should be okay, right? RIGHT? Oh please someone tell me that they have been in this boat.
Several months ago I began to struggle with my work. Keep in mind at this point I had only been at my current job for just over a year. Although I was thriving professionally and financially (beating budgets and raking in commissions), internally I was drowning. No one can prepare you for the emotional train wreck that is the passing of a parent. I take pride in being pretty “tough” but after the dust settled from family time, sympathy cards, and the occasional visit, I very quickly became (by self diagnosis I assume) a combination of depressed and anxious. I didn’t like my attitude, so therefore I became withdrawn. I didn’t want to be out in public or meet new people because I felt that I was at my lowest and had nothing to offer anyone new. I didn’t want someone to meet Mediocre Karen, so I decided to keep to myself until Magnificent Karen returned to form.
Weeks went by, months went by, it got worse. I became very isolated at work, and very anxious when I thought about having to be in crowds. I only felt safe at home, in my bed, or at a familiar place; a ballgame, a road trip to Disneyland, or at immediate family’s homes. I began to think that this was just a rite of passage, that the older you get, the more content you are with keeping to yourself. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized the root of my unhappiness (besides my grief and mourning for Mom). My work was no longer fulfilling. I worked hard and it still wasn’t quite enough. I reached out to my co-workers, asking for help in the areas that I knew I was struggling and was met with little support. In hindsight, I don’t blame them, I was in a constant state of “poor me” syndrome. I effortlessly developed great working relationships with bright eyed Brides and eager to play golf Grooms, only to get an occasional Thank You note expressing their gratitude for making their dreams come true. It sucked.
I began to search high and low for a different job. I diligently perused Craigslist, Cal Opps, and other sites that offer change. The more I searched for what I was eligible or qualified for, the more anxious I became. The darker the road seemed. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my current situation for greener pastures, only to realize six months later that the water bill is higher on that greener, grassier side. I couldn’t stomach the thought of being trapped in a job that didn’t fulfill me, the anxiety was at an all time high.
Then a blessing came along. Sure it was ugly and disguised as a formal write-up at work forcing me into a probationary period, but damn, was it the best worst day of my life. After being told that my performance was slipping and that my attitude was affecting the team, I immediately knew that it was time to part ways with the root of my anxiety. I don’t mean to blame the particular place I worked at, there are some great people there, but my role did not leave me feeling accomplished at the end of each day, it only left me distressed to go to sleep each night, knowing that I had wasted yet another day doing something that was slowly killing me. A small circle of friends told me this was okay, but I didn’t believe them. Thanks to those who listened and also to those who let me be quiet.
So here I am, with a few weeks of vacation accrued, and no game plan for what to do when the severance runs out. I am now the opposite of anxious and depressed; I am feeling more free than I ever have in my life (except for maybe the days of recess, those days were pretty awesome). No longer will my dreams be a cocktail conversation or a journal entry. As of now, my dreams are my full time job. The next few months will be devoted to educating myself, meeting people that can influence me, and taking some risks. And the Happiest Road Trip on Earth, of course.
The way I see it, what’s the worse that could happen? My invention will flop, no one will like my Children’s Book, and I will make some mistakes that cost me my Deli Start-Up Capital. So what? I’d rather be trying to do what I love and fail, than be trying to do something that I don’t enjoy yielding the same result.
Anne Frank said “No one ever became poor by giving” and I can’t wait to start giving back. Not only to my family, but also to my friends, my awesome fella, this incredible community, and even to myself. Wish me luck, should I fall short, run out of money and come knocking at your door, I promise to only ask for a couch and a smile. And maybe a connection to a job that yields a W-2.