In May I quit my job. That management job I had. The one that I was really good at and paid me really well. The job that afforded us the funds for our big dream Disneyland vacation. The job that had been my first foray into the "working mom life". The job that I had been wanting to quit since Christmas. I quit that job, and I'm really happy that I did. It took me months to be able to say that. I have felt that I've been living as a walking cliche for months. I've lived the "look before you leap" and the "hindsight is 20/20" life since last June. I've also been able to live the "silver lining life" too, and that is what this story is about. This is my story how I lived one cliche after another to get back to happy. To get back to me. To get back to life.
For starters, I'm not the kind of person who just quits a job. I'm loyal to my employers, almost to a fault, but more that than, I'm cautions. Extremely cautious. I knew that this important retail job was a necessity for my family. That I needed to help out financially after years of being at home. I took the job knowing that I may never love it. That I may never love working outside the home. What I didn't anticipate is that it would teach me so many things about my life and how I live it.
If I'm honest with you and myself, I didn't entirely hate my job as an Assistant Manager. The truth is that I just hated the hours. I loved the people I worked with, I loved the environment, and I really loved the job itself. If the store had the operating hours of 10 am to 6pm everyday, it's possible that I would have never left. Anyone who works in retail will tell you that those hours are a dream scenario. A retail colleague of mine once posted on Facebook that Motherhood and Retail are strange bedfellows, and I understood whole heatedly. Retail is almost a 24/7 job, much like motherhood.
Being away from home and working weekends slowly made me bitter and unhappy. I can admit that now. I can understand if you think it makes me sound like I'm a spoiled brat. I'll accept that. In a sense I am. I was spoiled by a good economy and a husband with a very good job. I was spoiled by five years without car payments and adjustable rate mortgages. I was spoiled entirely by my naive belief that my days as a stay at home mother and aspiring writer would never end. I was spoiled and then fell in love with pancake breakfast Sundays and Christmas Eve mani/pedis with my mom. And "spoiled" me didn't like her job that took her away from such things so much of the time.
My bitterness seeped into every aspect of my life. I was a bitter and angry wife. I was a bitter and impatient mother. I was unhappy and bitter here on this blog. Still I did nothing but complain about it. I felt like there was nothing I could do. I was so unhappy with my circumstances, the financial responsibility I felt I owed, the need to hold up my end of this marriage bargain. I couldn't just quit my job, what kind of message would that send to my kids and my husband? So I kept chugging along, swallowing all that bitterness, trying to keep up the facade of good and fine. Always thinking of ways to get out of a situation that made me incredibly unhappy.
I realize now that the bitterness and anger were the child of another feeling. I was lonely. I missed my family so much. I missed "mommy" Megan who liked to bake and craft and volunteer at school functions. I co-lead a Girl Scout troop and that just seemed like another chore on my to do list. I hated feeling that way about things I used to find joy in. Who wants to feel that way? Who wants to dread every extra curricular event with their kids? No one wants to feel that way.
No matter what emotion I was feeling and for what reasons I was feeling it, I was still too scared to change. Fear was my true guiding emotion when it came to doing something about my job. I couldn't just walk away. I couldn't just tell my Husband and my family, "Well Mommy is super unhappy and spoiled rotten so she's quitting this really good job, and we can figure out the details later". How could I? Who quits a job that pays well? Who quits a job with nothing lined up? I have never been the kind of person to make a drastic change. I hate change. It scares me and gives me anxiety. So I just stayed bitter and unhappy.
Until April. In April an old friend approached me about leaving my current job and coming to manage her small business. It was a retail environment but in a very non traditional sense. She needed someone to come in and manage people, manage some business aspects, and bring fresh ideas to her small business. Her business had lots of potential as far as social media and special events were concerned. It was also an opportunity for me to finally be a manager. At this point since graduating from college fifteen years earlier, I had always been an Assistant, never a Manager. The job itself was everything I had dreamed of as an early graduate all those years before. A small boutique business that I could mold into something of my own, within reason of course. The idea that I could really put things in motion for this small business lit a fire inside my creative heart. The best part of this new endeavor was that the hours were closer to the dream of 10 to 6. They were closed on Sundays and Mondays. The opportunity of having the same two days off in a row consistently were enough to make me say yes, but I hesitated. Was this job the answer I was looking for?
I thought about this new opportunity for two weeks. I called everyone I knew. I emailed peers. I needed everyone to be a sounding board. The more I thought about this new job, the scarier the idea of quitting my steady job became. How do you just jump? How do you just dive into the great unknown. I spoke with my friend multiple times about coming to work for her, and every time I left with more questions. I'm sure everyone I knew was sick of talking to me about it, and I'm sure they were sick of saying "Just take the job!". Just to be sure, I called my best friend and asked, "How do I just quit and change everything when I'm so scared?", she said, "You just jump. It's called a Leap of Faith". Was faith enough?
Sure I was miserable at my current job, and I was unhappy with the circumstance, but did I have the courage or the gumption to go against all the signs in my mind that pointed to staying and just leave? Was I brave enough to tell all those voices in my head to shut up? And what about my obligations? What if this "dream job" this last chance opportunity to do something I had always dreamed of since college didn't work out?
Then again my family also needed a happy me. A happy, functioning, participating me, stripped of any and all bitterness.
Was this really about taking the chance on a job or taking a chance on me? Could I be the kind of person who demanded happiness? Could I be the kind of person who changed her circumstances?
I decided I could. I decided to take the leap, because this new job, this opportunity, was exactly the thing I had been praying about at night since Christmas. This job was a chance to make a change in my life that I felt I needed, a change that I knew my family needed. I was scared, I second guessed myself every step of the way, and I was so worried that it wouldn't work out. Still I took that leap of faith, because while all the voices of self doubt were screaming, "What if it doesn't work out?", I kept whispering to myself, "But what if it does?".
I've never been the kind of gal to take a leap of faith. Anytime I've made a change in my life or left a job, it's been after serious consideration and with lots of safety nets to fall back on. I'm famous for playing it safe, but for the first time, at thirty seven years old, I was about to gamble. I was going to leap before looking.
Stay tuned for part two:
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride or Hindsight is 20/20 it's to be determined.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride or Hindsight is 20/20 it's to be determined.