Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Quitting My Job

I quit my day job and began working for myself from home in mid March. It’s been almost two months and I still haven’t quite figured out how to talk about it because it was all of a sudden and very planned at the same time.  But today I’m going to try.

At the end of last year, Daniel and I slowly came to the decision that I’d probably leave my job as a Social Media Communications Specialist with the school district after this school year ended.  He supported me in pursuing my creative goals full time, and although it scared both of us, we thought seven or eight months to get things figured out sounded doable.

I’m not one to go online and share specific negative details about other people or organizations, so I’m not going to say much about what happened.  Also, quitting in general is an embarrassing topic for me—I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter.  But with the support of my husband, my dad, and our small group, I realized what a toll my job was taking on me emotionally, spiritually and physically—I felt underappreciated and unable to really pursue something that gave me purpose because I didn’t have time outside of my 40 hour work week, Daniel and I were arguing a lot because I was pretty much in survival mode throughout the week and only excited about life on the weekends, and I wasn’t sleeping because I dreaded waking up for work.  I planned on wading through all of this and making the best of it until July or August, but once the baby was added to the mix and my doctor asked if there were any sources of prolonged stress in my life, we began re-evaluating our plan.

Honestly, I was terrified to quit.  I hated the thought of not being able to contribute—we just bought a house! And we definitely didn’t do so with the intention of immediately dropping down to only one steady income.  But we also didn’t know we were pregnant when we found out our offer was accepted, so plans change.  So when things got really weird and particularly awful for me at work one day, Daniel decided that was it.  We would make it work, he said.

And that is what we’ve been doing the past two months—making it work.  Have I been so overwhelmingly busy with photo sessions that we wonder why I didn’t quit sooner? Definitely not.  The week before I quit I turned down a couple of weekday shoots because I had no idea I was about to free up all of my time.  I didn’t have a lot lined up because I thought I’d be working at a desk in an office for another six months. 

And quitting didn’t mean Daniel and I suddenly stopped arguing, either.  First off, I think disagreements come with the territory of two humans living, breathing, eating, and sleeping in the same space.  But they also come with big transitions, and we were suddenly trying to navigate what it meant for Daniel to be the sole breadwinner of the house (with the exception of the few weekend photo gigs I had set up).  That meant me learning to do the one thing I thought I’d never do—rely completely on a man to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for me.  I was raised to earn my keep, so the whole thing made me feel kind of paralyzed with shame.  I didn’t tell my closest friends I quit for several weeks.  I wanted to get some things figured out so I didn’t just look like a lazy mooch who got married and stopped working a few short months later.

So, although my first trimester definitely slowed me down a little bit, I’ve been working toward getting to a place where I’m contributing financially on a regular basis again, and although it’s a slow process, it’s been an exciting one for both of us.  We get to celebrate every time I book a shoot because it not only means my dreams are coming true, but also that we can relax a little more in our new roles and trust we’ll be able to provide for our little one, no problem.

This whole one income transition came at the worst time in a lot of ways, but it also came at the best time because it forced us to step back and evaluate what we really needed in a time of temptation to just buy all the things for our new house.  There are a lot of house things out there, you guys—A LOT.

It’s also a blessing because I won’t be diving into full time self-employment completely blind after the baby is born—I’ll have work to get back to rather than a new job to invent.  I’d probably be pretty slow to get things rolling if I was starting from scratch with a little one in my arms (sidenote: I can’t wait for all of the sweet distractions our babe will present when he or she joins me in working from home this fall! I’m going to have the best business partner/mini model!). 

I don’t know that this post has any sort of point or message aside from sharing where I am with you guys.  I’m not encouraging anyone to stand up and yell I QUIT! spontaneously in the middle of the work day (or ever) because you’re unhappy or bored at work.  Quitting is a big, scary decision that I’ve found myself reading up on and riding both sides of the fence in the past year—there are lots of blog posts out there with titles like, “Ten Reasons You Should Quit Your Day Job,” and just as many asking you to do the opposite.  Quitting allows you to follow your dreams, but quitting teaches you to give up.  Finding and accepting the right reasons and timing was a really confusing process for me, and I still question whether or not I should have stuck it out.  Was waking up to go to work painful for me because I wasn’t supposed to be there, or was it hard because I had something to learn from it?

I discussed the whole dilemma with a few friends a while back, and ultimately decided that in my particular situation—one where I didn’t have the opportunity to interact with a single person most days, and when I did, it often left me feeling unappreciated and pointless—I had done all I would be allowed to do in the realm of making the organization better than when I’d gotten there.  I wasn’t helping or inspiring anyone.  I had stayed my welcome, and continuing to sit at my desk daydreaming about the people I could be meeting and the other ways I could be serving was only hurting me.  

So as of today, I’m a full-time wife working on putting together our new house, a full-time expectant mommy anxiously anticipating each appointment we get to hear/see our first little, and a full-time hustler for more photo gigs.  My job is to love and support my husband as he gets up to go to work each morning, to nest in our new home and make it a happy place for Daniel to return to, to take care of our babe by taking care of myself as well as I possibly can, and to serve others by treating my clients like family and taking photos that will make them realize how beautiful they are and how wonderful life is.  What a stinkin’ fantastic job! :)


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