When the Wants Make Themselves Known.

June 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Posted in Career angst, Choosing Happiness., Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy) | 8 Comments

Since my post about not knowing what I want, I’ve gotten a whole lot better about sitting and listening to myself.

And when you listen to something long enough, you inevitably find one.

It’s a doozy.

I think I need to quit my job.

And the idea absolutely, unequivocally terrifies me.

Let me back up and tell you how I got here first.

Ever since I put out there that I wanted to go into business for myself, I’ve been talking with people and telling them that I’m thinking about trying to do something new, to go out on my own. For me, it’s been a way to try in the idea of running my own business and communicating to people that I’m interested in getting business if someone knows someone. Plus, talking about it helps me suss out my own feelings on the whole situation.

This weekend was the end-of-school bash for Lucky’s school. My running friend from town and her husband were there. In one of the first times we ran together, I asked my friend what her husband does. Not being a business person, she told me she wasn’t quite sure, but that he had worked in consulting for a bit and now was working for a company. And he was very, very busy.

So I assumed that he was in sales.

Except I was wrong. Turns out, he’s in the SAME INDUSTRY AS ME. We bonded over shared frustration about where the industry is headed, how we feel like our jobs are spent covering the auditor’s asses instead of creating real value for our companies and clients, and how hard it is to work for the industry right now.

And he told me that he knew a guy close to home who was in the same business who always needed help; he had contracted for him before his kids were born and stays in touch.

It was perfect – I could stay doing that I do, without having to commute! Perfect, right?

I went ahead and requested to connect on LinkedIn on the referral of my friend’s husband, and for a bit, I dreamed about the idea of not having to commute into Boston anymore and still keep money coming in. I mean, really, it couldn’t be more perfect!

I’d still do exactly what I’m doing now, except I wouldn’t have to spend 3+ hours of my day in the car.

And then, Sunday night into Monday morning, I was up most of the night with insomnia.

(The insomnia. Oy, the insomnia. I have had some pretty bad nights since my marathon on Mother’s Day. I might have slept more than 3 hours at a stretch once, maybe twice. Most nights, I pass out at 9, then am up from midnight until 3 or 4am, with some ‘naps’ here and there. It’s awful and torturous and I have done almost everything physically possible to manage it: melatonin, turning off my devices, going to bed when tired, avoiding caffeine, meditation when I DO wake up, white noise, allergy medication.)

I didn’t really make the connection until my therapy appointment yesterday, when my stress levels were through the roof. I sat in my therapist’s office, and, trying not to cry, told her I could barely breathe sometimes when I think about going to work.

My insomnia started right about the time I went back to work after my two month hiatus.

It’s not the commute. It’s not the schedule.

It’s the work itself.

I haven’t LIKED the work in a long time – since before Lucky was born, quite honestly. But see, I don’t HATE it ,either. And I think that’s what gets me: I don’t hate my job. I just don’t care.

And the more I start to focus on the things I want, the more I read about living the kind of life I value, the more I am realizing that there’s something missing as it relates to my work right now.  It’s never more clear when I’m sitting in traffic on the Tobin Bridge; in those moments I have a clear existential crisis, where my entire being is screaming, THIS IS WRONG! THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!!!!

I thought it was the commute. I thought it was maybe the kind of work I’m doing. Or maybe the company. Or maybe it’s just because I’m tired, because, you see, I CANNOT FREAKING SLEEP. I have been telling myself for years now that I can’t leave this job, it’s good and flexible and I don’t hate it and it’s good money, and it’s irresponsible to leave a job and take away resources from my family merely because I don’t CARE about my work. I tell myself to find something else instead – that I can’t leave until I have a good idea of what I want next, because really, it’s money and money is good.

But the thing is, I don’t know what I want to do next. I spend a LOT of my time and energy casting my thoughts around, trying on careers, researching the next steps and realizing that yeah, I don’t have the time or money for more schooling that would be required.

So here I am. Still no clue of what I want to be when I grow up, but realizing that my current situation is fast becoming untenable, emotionally, for me.

Yesterday, my therapist asked me, So what will it take for you to leave your job?

I don’t know. I really, really don’t know. Leaving is terrifying for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I don’t KNOW what that life will look like. I’m scared of the sacrifices I’m going to force on my family if I decide to leave. And man, I feel SO selfish in saying, well, I don’t HATE my job, but I don’t like it, and therefore I’m leaving it.

I mean, really, who gets to do that?

But I can’t keep living like this either. I feel stuck, and anxious, and I consciously have to force myself to breathe when I think of all the work I’m going to have to do in August, while paying a nanny to take care of Lucky because there’s no more camp. Instead of being home with him, getting ready for first grade, I’m going to be juggling commuting into Boston and Charlie’s traveling for his summer meeting and making sure the dog gets enough exercise and all the work I need to get done.

I don’t know if I can do it.

I feel stuck and scared and tired and sad and anxious and I wish I knew what to do, really DO about the whole thing.

I’m hoping that by putting it out there, writing it all out, maybe I’ll figure out some way around it.



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  1. My comment is in the form of a question which is, what are you most afraid of? It seems to me that fear of something is preventing you from doing anything. Being at odds with your work has been a long standing theme as you’ve tried to tease out just what ‘it’ is.

    And, it is not as frivolous as “I don’t hate my job but don’t like it so I’m going to quit”, please, as if. This is about your quality of life, your contribution to society, you being a mom and coveting that role and wanting to protect it.

    The way I see it (and you know I am direct but only because of time constraints and not to me harsh), inertia is killing your soul. Do something, anything, to make a change. You are so well thought out, Serenity, so in need of a plan and maybe just this once the plan is to not have one. NOTHING is forever. So, you quit with nothing to fall back on. So, what? Or, you quit and try the consulting thing and fail (fail in that you don’t have enough business to make a living)? So what? In your line of work there will ALWAYS be a demand, you can return to industry. But what if, what if quitting propels you in another direction? What if you find, in the quiet solitude of leaving the grind, a way to something else? Or not, but at least you’ll know more than you will in staying the same.

    Oh, if we could only see ourselves as the capable competent strong fierce women that others see us as, what would we do with ourselves?

    My favorite quote at times like these are, “What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?”

  2. I was watching a TED talk recently- and I wish I could find it!- that talked about how it is more natural of human nature to go along with your life, then hit a period of restlessness, and reinvent yourself multiple times over. It really hit a nerve with me, as I have had multiple reinventions already at 36, and am in the process of doing so once again. I thought of a snake shedding its skin every so often. Does this time seem like that? Like you have outgrown your skin just enough to be made uncomfortable by it, and are thrashing and scratching a bit to get yourself out of it?

  3. Quitting a pretty good, but not good enough job is HARD. So many people are dying for jobs. To walk away from one feels wrong.

    But at the same time. TAKE A CHANCE. There are no decisions that you can make related to work that you can’t unmake. You can find a new job if it really ends up being untenable.

    I just quit my good, not terrible job. Because I didn’t love it. Because it didn’t truly use my best attributes. And, I’ve been sitting in that job for the past 6-7 years knowing that it wasn’t the best fit. I was scared to leave. Scared of the unknown. Scared to not define myself by that job. But, I can’t imagine spending another day pretending to be someone I am not.

    If you never let go of this image of who you are supposed to be, you will never truly find who you are. Imagine it like climbing on monkey bars. You have to let go of the bar behind you to move to the bar in front of you.

  4. The first and second commenters really sum it all up well. We can waste lifetimes in limbo because of lack of action and truly, it is never a bad time to reinvent ourselves. If I were in your shoes I would attempt a leave of absence wherein I would do everyday stuff that is productive and makes me and my family happy, and see how that feels then make some more choices once the leave was up. If they won’t grant a leave then quit. It’s possible the threat of you quitting forces them into giving you a leave. Otherwise you will find something else if you decide to return. Youre smart and qualified, you’ll do fine.

    You seem to see leaving your job as taking this huge risk, but, it appears the opposite is true. The real risk is living more time with these uncertainties and ongoing trauma– it will demolish your life and leave a painful recovery in its wake. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, this supposition comes from my own personal turmoil and experience. Take a break, a big one. I don’t think you will look back 30 years from now and say “I just really regret that time I left that job that was driving me crazy and spent some time enjoying my family and life.” Besides, even if you did, give yourself the space to regret something! It’ll make a funny story later on?mGood luck to you.

  5. I am going to sound harsh, so I haven’t commented, not sure how to phrase my words so I don’t come across as an ass. But you don’t know me, so maybe you will think that anyway and maybe harsh is the only way I know how to be. So …here…(from a place of concern truly because I have been there) – but gonna come out mean… Just quit the fucking job. Millions of families adjust and work around and figure it out and budget and it all works out. It will all work out! I have quit many a fucking job. Just take a deep breath and walk out the damn door, and then take another deeper breath and realize how great you feel. It is just A JOB. Another job will come along. Maybe one you like better, maybe not. But sitting around moaning for another minute in a job you clearly dislike, don’t give a crap about, are getting nothing out of – is a waste of your energy. Life is short. If there is one thing I have learned in this crazy world, life is short. You will not be lying on your death bed regretting a job you quit. You will be regretting all the damn time and energy you have spent ruminating over and over and backwards and sideways about if you should quit or not quit or when to quit or what to do next and what it all means. Jesus! It’s exhausting! JUST QUIT THE FUCKING JOB! Pshew, that felt good. HAHA! But seriously. You need to give yourself a damn break. Your head space must wipe you out. Quit the job.

  6. I wish I had some awesome advice…however, I’ve been MIA from blogs for a while, and I am just glad you are writing. Lots of love from Ohio.

  7. So do not tell your boss, but tell yourself and any partner, you have quit the job. Then look at what that does to your life and time and finances. How will you solve those problems? Then either find a new job or live a new lifestyle or reframe your current employment. After you figure that part out you can share or not share to your boss that you have quit. Once you have fired yourself things do get clearer……

  8. I am just getting caught up on things.

    Here is what I am wondering: Do you equate (even subconsciously) quitting your job with failing?

    Because I know you cannot allow yourself to fail at anything. And I wonder if somehow this is what is holding you back.

    You are not failing if you quit this job. You have built a successful career in your field. You want something else. You want something more.

    You deserve to be happy.

    Quit the job. If the alternatives are not what you need/want, you can always, always find something else. That is the blessing of your field.

    I think you would be amazing working for yourself, with small business clients, and more time to spend with your family. I really do.


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