On July 7th, 2017, I left my stable, should-be full time office job to do….what? I’m still not sure, exactly.
The truth is I was unhappy where I was. I finished my MFA in Fiction (a really, truly useful degree) and was feeling like I wasn’t meant to be at my job anymore. Well, actually, I had been feeling like that for awhile. So I took a risk, took the plunge, and headed into my boss’s office in June to put in a three-weeks notice. (In retrospect, two week notices are a thing for a reason — learn from my mistakes!)
Risk-taking has not been my path in life. The usual path has been something like: stay where you’re safe, avoid hard decisions. But I’ve done a lot of thinking. A LOT of thinking. I’ve been spending all these years trying to figure out what my career should be before my career becomes being a full-time writer. What’s the point in that? Why should I focus on something when it’s not what I really want? Why shouldn’t I focus on writing if it’s what I want to do? I was short-selling myself. I wasn’t believing that I was good enough to do what I love most in life.
That ends now.
Or, it should’ve ended July 7th. Instead, I found myself wasting quite a lot of time this month.
Things that I wanted to do after I left my job:
- Finish editing and submitting all the short stories I have stockpiled on my computer’s hard drive
- Work on my thesis, which I should now start calling my unfinished novel, I suppose
- Look into freelance writing
- Set up a website to feature all this wonderful writing that will be getting published all over the place
Things I did in July:
- Spent 8 days visiting my Dad in the hospital (all is well, now)
- Went on a ten-day drinking binge on a writing retreat that I promised myself would be about writing and drinking not just drinking (sorry, Mom!)
- Wallowed in self-pity
- Made a vision board! (alternatively, read a few self-help books)
A month full of productivity if I ever saw one.
The thing is, I am the Queen of Beating Myself Up. I convince myself that I suck all the time. So my first instinct today was to look back on the month of July, think “What the FUCK, Mary?!”, and then lay on my couch binge-watching adult cartoons and eating a carton of ice cream all day.
Instead, in a moment of unforeseen clarity, I woke up at 10AM on July 31st, unemployed and out-of-shape, and I ate breakfast. Then I sat down on my bed and made myself a list of monthly goals. Then I leashed up my parent’s dog and we got into my car and went on a two-mile hike. We looked out at the creek and listened to the woods. All is well, all is well.
I came home and finally unpacked the bags full of what had been sitting on my desk at my office. I put much of it in the trash, and packed the rest up in a box in the attic. I’m committing to staying away from permanent desk jobs, for as long as I can.
And then, instead of beating myself up about how I was meant to come out of my job of four years kicking ass right away, I thought, I can do this. This thing. Whatever it’s going to be. Making art and then sharing it in a bunch of different, sometimes weird ways. I can trust the gut feeling that I had inside me that day in June when I walked into my office and thought to myself this is not what I was meant to do.
Knowing that this is the stable ground from which I will build the life I’ve always wanted is comforting. I think I know now that it’s okay to have a few setbacks, it’s okay to sit on my ass for a little while, as long as I commit to always getting back up. And if I ever forget that, all I’ll need to do is go back and read this and remember that once I was brave enough to stand.
On to the next thing, dear reader out in cyberspace, wherever and whoever you are. I’m writing this for you and I’m in this with you and we’re going to do it all together.