A friend of mine was a CPA working in the corporate world.
She was making good money and working long hours. And was not happy.
She gave up her apartment, put her purged belongings in
storage, and moved to India for 6 months, studying at an ashram, with no need
for income or work, except inner work.
Then she came back to the States.
You can’t pay your bills with enlightenment.
She found that she had to create a middle-ground, and now, 10
years later, runs a private practice counseling others toward their own
I have a feeling I’m about to embark on a similar journey of
finding my middle-ground between financial independence and creative
Well, I guess I can’t really say embark, when what I mean is
“continue” to simply push the boat out of the harbor. A boat isn’t meant to
stay moored, and you’ll never find out what its strengths or weaknesses are, or
what your skills as a sailor are if you don’t leave the safety of the dock.
To be concrete: I have informed my job that October 31 will
be my last day there.
And the options that I have before me are less than
I’ve known for a while that it’s time to move on. In support
of that notion, earlier this year, I not only put in for my own promotion at my
job, but when I was told, “No resources for that,” I went on an active job search,
engaging the help of friends to revamp my resume, made networking dates, and
went on many interviews.
I was even offered a few jobs. Jobs, that perhaps before, I
would have taken.
But the jobs offered, I came to realize continued marching
me up a ladder and on a path that didn’t feel like where I wanted to go.
Despite my “big realization” many months ago about wanting to
move in the direction of an executive director or program director position… I
began to find out more about what that kind of job and life would mean. And it
would mean more hours of my life than I want a job to be.
I found, through that job search, that I don’t want a bigger title with a mildly bigger salary.
That the trajectory on which I am positioned and was looking to be headed was
not one that ended in work-life balance. In a non-profit, there is rarely such
So, in came the notion of the “fulcrum,” endeavoring toward
a job or jobs that generated more income with fewer hours. Leaving me the time I
need to create.
When was the last time I picked up a paint brush, or even a
pencil? Have I worked on that essay my aunt suggested I submit to publications?
When was the last time I could really call myself a poet, despite my Master’s
degree in it?
Time. I discovered I wanted to literally buy myself time.
And so, I began to vaguely think about career paths or jobs
that would be in that direction. Then came the High Holidays at work… and the
play… and a halt to any developmental thinking.
But, the holidays are nearly over. It was finalized that
there can’t be a different place for me where I’m at, and after too many days
crying at or after or on the way to work, I am making a leap … not of faith,
but of action.
With the faith that my action will lead me to something
For the past 16 years, since I was 16 years old, I’ve been a
secretary. I’ve adjusted more margins and input more data than there are guidos
And so I am doing what conventional wisdom says never to
ever do. I am quitting without a job lined up.
I have had a professional-direction conversation nearly
every day since my decision, am having and have had coffee with people to
bounce ideas off of and to network with. I have closed the browser window when
I find myself looking again at jobs that say “Administrative” anywhere in the
I have been in a rut, and the only way to un-rut yourself is
to lean into the discomfort and the growing edge of change. To watch when I’m
teetering into despair, into habitual job search words, … into a Netflix binge,
and to push myself onto the high ground again.
Another email, a sudden “crazy” idea, a phone call for some
The experience I find most different about this job search
than all my previous “quit with no plan” moves, is that I feel supported by my
current office and all the people I’ve met there. This doesn’t feel impulsive, even though there’s “no plan;”
everyone at my work supports my move, and though they’re sad to see me go, they
have every faith in me that I can do whatever it is that feeds me.
I am reaching out to so many people I’ve met there. This
isn’t a “here’s my two-weeks’ notice” email, as I’ve done a dozen times prior.
This is actually slow and supported in many ways, and I feel it that way.
I am nervous, of course, but I am excited. I feel glad to
notice that my brain is coming up with ideas that might be viable that would
have been totally out of the box, and therefore dismissed, before. I’m not
looking for another 40 hour a week desk job. I am finally willing to look at a
This is my own “move to India” move, though maybe it’s
closer to the center of rational than I know. I’ve never been willing to have a
few jobs and put them together for a living, because I thought it was too hard,
or too undisciplined, or too “artist.”
I’ve been afraid of judgment: my own, my family’s, my peers’.
I’ve been afraid to try to cobble together a living, because that “sounds” so
But for 16 years, I’ve worked the 40 hour job. I’ve had the
regular pay-stub with the paid-time off and the health insurance. I’ve had the
computer log-in and the number to the copy machine guy memorized.
I’ve done “normal.”
But, dears, I’ve never exactly been normal.
Here’s to Voltaire’s Candide-cum-internet meme:
“If we do not find something pleasant, at least we will
find something new.”