Or: Why believing in yourself is more difficult in practice than theory.
Or: You are in the driver’s seat of your life, and that’s terrifying.
I’m exhilarated to be able to share with you that I quit my job. I don’t have a conventional plan. I’m not immediately re-entering the job market, chasing a career or climbing a ladder. I am going to be a story about a woman who took a (measured) risk and, depending who you ask, it was awesome or idiotic. But I’m at peace and I’m ready to wander.
It was a year ago that I recognized what I should do. Still, I finished the contract I was working on, applied for a promotion, got the promotion and was neck-deep in a new role before I had realized that I had hijacked my own plans. I re-made, re-assessed and re-affirmed the decision nearly every day for the past three months. Despite arriving at the same decision countless times, I kept spinning on my heels. It was an absurd, ungraceful showing of how difficult it is to find resolve when you are breaking away from an established storyline. I was decided and resolved, and still I was abutting the appropriate, “two weeks notice” margin before I could bring myself to say those words out loud. I found it incredibly difficult. Impossible, even. I would imagine myself saying those words to the manager who I respected wholly, and I simply couldn’t find the right moment or way or time.
But there was another reason I found it difficult to quit. The reality was that I was embarrassed. I would have to tell the world that I was going to quit a budding career to pursue my artistic goals. I even made up a lie that I could tell people instead, to squirrel away my secret dreams. I had to relocate. My partner got a job in Ottawa. La la, oh my. How funny to think about that, now. I was so scared to “come out of the closet”, so to speak. Ultimately, I didn’t want to prop up a lie to keep hiding behind. The truth or nothing.
I’ve tried to balance all my passions with this career; the career that was a rock after a turbulent post-grad experience. The career that I clung to when I didn’t have the confidence and resolve to do what I felt strongly was the best thing little me could offer this world. The career that made it easy to define myself. Easy to buy clothes and bobbles and trinkets.
The career that was incredibly satisfying. I loved to work with writers to help bring their books to market. Alas, my own book(s) sat woefully neglected, me, not willing to cram in just 1000 words tonight, just write, just anything.
Briefly: That didn’t work.
I was embarrassed that I wasn’t more independently productive. I heard once that Robertson Davies woke up early every day to write before he went to work. Why couldn’t I be more like Robertson Davies? I don’t actually know what his career was, or the balance he was able to personally strike, or etc. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others. A friend of mine told me of my struggle to consistently write in the mornings, “It’s not like brushing your teeth.”
It’s not like brushing your teeth.
I need to give this vocation a chance. Just as others easily do what I do every day–this corporate ladder is perhaps their art–I need to find the life that is easy for me to live. The one that makes the most sense.
And that’s what it’s all about, after all. I believe I am a free, autonomous human being and the things that I value…well, I’m allowed to value them. And if I value them, that’s where I should be putting my time and my energy. I imagine it as a bit of the Butterfly Effect. By living in alignment with my core beliefs, even a little bit more than right now, the Whole Wide World will re-align to make more room for people like me who think that telling stories is tremendously valuable.
The caveat is, of course, that this may all be a funny mistake. Even then, this is a mistake that I am happy to make. I’ve set the course and off I go.