Sometimes You Just Have to Press “Publish.”

July 29, 2014 at 7:51 am | Posted in Career angst, Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy) | 7 Comments

I have three separate drafts sitting in my dashboard right now. All of them are untitled. All of them relate to my last post about how I wish I could quit my job. Which I wrote more than a MONTH ago.

About halfway through writing those posts, I’ve just had to click away. Partly because I can’t deal with thinking and worrying and obsessing any more. Partly because I’m mad at myself that I can’t just walk away from a job which I have spent the past decade trying to talk myself into liking.

I wish it were that easy. I wish I was the kind of person who could just quit, walk away, be happy and free, with the wind blowing in my hair and daisies dancing and fairies flying around me, playing beautiful music.

I wish I was the kind of person who DIDN’T stay awake at night worrying about money.

I wish I could walk away and deal with the reality that in not working, I take resources away from my family; resources that are just as important as my time and energy.

I wish my headspace wasn’t so exhausting.

I wish I didn’t feel like quitting was WRONG.

I wish I knew what the hell I wanted to do with my life.

The thing is. I make 40% of our total family income. Working my dreaded part time hours. And yes, if I subtract out self-employment taxes because I’m a contractor, it’s not nearly as much as it seems on paper. But it’s significant, and we’re still paying for student debt, and I have family that’s strewn about the United States, and already I haven’t seen my sister and brother since March 2013. Oh yeah, and did I mention that I needed a new car imminently because mine had a crack in the head gasket that couldn’t be fixed because the head screws were frozen?

I just can’t justify quitting outright.

And I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so it’s not like I can even plan my exit strategy and ramp up something ELSE in the meantime.

But clearly my work schedule was not working for me anymore. This summer has just been too crazy.

So what I did instead of quitting was email the woman for whom I work and tell her I could only manage 20 hours a week this summer, and that we needed to bring in another resource, because that wasn’t going to cut it with all the changes the auditors wanted the client to make. I told her that things were different this summer because Lucky wasn’t in full day daycare and Charlie wasn’t working from home. And I told her that I couldn’t give her more than 20 hours a week, and that was BEFORE vacation plans, since Lucky and I were just about to head to NC for two weeks to visit my sister and niece and nephew and my brother and new nephew and niece and friends and other family.

And I knew it would not go over well, because she is not the kind of person who handles changes from her expectations without reacting. This was a HUGE change from what we’ve always discussed: that I am the person who is responsible for this project, first and foremost, and I need to be willing to work whatever hours necessary to get the project completed on time.

If I’m being honest, I had kind of hoped, in a faint way you hope for these sorts of things, that she would be pissed enough to replace me altogether.

She was pissed, yes. But she did not replace me.

Instead she made it clear that I needed to cancel my trip to North Carolina and honor my commitment to her and the client by getting our project back on track.

And I caved. I cancelled our trip to North Carolina.

I don’t like disappointing people. I have taken the term responsibility entirely too seriously, for what I’m realizing has been my whole life. I don’t like telling someone who counts on me that I’m not up for the task.

There is so much of this entwined in who I am as a person, I can’t make a decision that, when you step back and look at it on paper, seems like it should be easy.

I can’t quit my job. But I can’t keep working in this situation, either.

In the meantime, I have been formulating my exit strategy. I recently had a meeting with a family therapist – a friend of a friend – about helping her come up with an accounting system for her business. But it’s clear from me from our discussions that it’s not necessarily going to be a profitable endeavor for me. It’ll be money – a little bit. But not exactly what I’m looking to get from investing time into doing more accounting.

I’ve also had coffee with the closer-to-my-house equivalent of the woman for whom I work – a guy who owns his own accounting firm and could always use extra help. He’s not interested in hiring a contractor, would want to hire me as a part time employee, but wouldn’t tie me down to a yearly hours requirement like the woman for whom I work now. He also nodded in agreement when I told him that ideally I’d work mother’s hours three days a week, and mentioned that he and his wife decided when they had their third child that they were going to try and make it work on just his salary. It’s important to be present for your children, he told me. I can’t say I’m excited about the idea of doing what I’m doing for more years – even closer to my house AND on better hours! – but I guess I feel strongly that I cannot walk away from the money without having some idea of what’s next.

That’s where I am right now.

And I haven’t pressed “publish” on any of these posts before now because I’m bitterly disappointed in myself for not having the courage to walk away from something which clearly brings me no joy. I can see it so clearly: it’s my own damn fault that I feel stuck and miserable and tired and joyless. I not only CAN do something about it, but I SHOULD. I have always felt that if you have control over something, and you choose to do nothing, you forfeit the right to complain about it.

I choose to do nothing, therefore I have to deal with the reality the way it is.

So that’s why I haven’t posted in more than a month. I still don’t know what I’m going to do. And I know there are so many of you reading this blog who want to scream at me “JUST QUIT THE FREAKING JOB!” I mean, hell, *I* think that to myself, too. Just quit the job, deal with the fact that we lose 40% of our household income. It’s just money, Serenity. Get out of there.

I wish it were that easy.

It’s not.

(And I’m going to press publish on this one.)



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  1. Okay. I’ve been waiting all day to comment on this so I could do so at my computer and actually say something.

    First of all, I would never say to you, JUST QUIT THE FREAKING JOB! I have never thought that one time reading any of your posts about your job. I actually think it’s crazy that YOU think you should just quit the freaking job. The idea of quitting a job just because it makes me unhappy is kind of crazy to me. I don’t think most people do that. They don’t, right? Most people don’t like their jobs and a fair amount really, really dislike them, and the vast majority of those people stay at their jobs because it’s really freaking hard to leave your job. I’m pretty sure that is how it works. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that is how it works.

    That is not to say I don’t think you should work on getting out of your job. I just don’t know how you might go about doing that. And I don’t think you should feel disappointed in yourself for not just quitting your job. I dislike my job quite a bit, but I just don’t think I can ever leave it. I don’t make much but I couldn’t make as much as I do at an entry level position elsewhere. Also, with the way teachers’ retirement works I’d be fairly F*CKED if I left my job now and stopped paying into STRS (where I contribute for retirement) and started paying into Social Security. It would be a financially disastrous move. Maybe some day I could cut down on my teaching hours and do something else that I love more (ahem, writing), but that day is a long way away. I hope to work toward that possibility but I don’t know if it will ever be a reality.

    I don’t mean to talk about myself so I’ll stop. I only bring it up because I know how you feel and I feel similarly stuck and I would NEVER assume you should just quit your job. If you make almost half of the money in your family, I don’t really understand how you even COULD quit your job.

    I also don’t think it’s your fault that you’re in this situation or that you should feel like you can’t speak disparagingly about it because you made choices that brought you here. You didn’t realize this job would make you unhappy. You didn’t request the exact combination of personality traits that makes it hard to say no (I would also have an almost impossible time asking my employer to change an agreement we had made, and I would also cancel my trip if that was asked of me). You are doing the best you can in your specific (and difficult) situation. I think it’s AWESOME that you took any steps at all to improve your situation and I bet, as you move in the direction of those steps, you’ll start seeing a light at the end of tunnel, and eventually it will get bigger and bigger until you know what you need to do and you know how to do it.

    And I will be right here, cheering you (and commiserating) the whole way.

  2. I think you are being entirely too hard on yourself. There is a financial reality your family is dealing, like most Americans, and you are doing your best to meet it and figure out a way to make your situation better. That’s definitely what you should be doing.

    The truth is most of us have to sacrifice our dreams to make ends meet, especially once we become a parent. I worked 90 hours last week. I spent little time with my family. It sucked. I try to justify it through the knowledge that this salary (meager though it is based on effort) is providing a good (and frankly necessary) financial baseline for the family.

    You are a good parent doing the right thing.

  3. Yes, sometimes you do just have to press publish. The longer you go without writing, the harder it is to get back to it. It’s nice to see you posting again.

    And like the others said, of course nobody would expect you to just quit a job that earned 40% of your family’s income! That would be ridiculous! It would be a good idea to do *something*, though, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of “just quit” and “keep on doing what you’re doing.” I actually really liked your sentence “I choose to do nothing, therefore I have to deal with the reality the way it is.” Because choosing to do nothing is, in fact, a choice. And sometimes if you examine why you chose to do nothing, you come up with a lot of positives (part-time hours, good pay, fear of the unknown, etc) and that can at least make you feel a little better about the situation.

    And I’m so upset that you had to cancel your NC trip! Seeing family is important! In reading this post, it sounds like your sister has 2 kids now? Is that true? (also, it sounds like your brother just had a baby, but that is maybe less surprising)

  4. First, friend, I am extending a warm hug to you. I KNOW how hard this is and has been for you. I acknowledge that and it should not be minimized.

    And, I would never say to quit the freaking job. I would say (and believe have said) to orchestrate your departure in a way that is palatable to you and for your family.

    You are SO LUCKY to have a concrete, in demand, marketable skill and I do think you maybe take that for granted more than you should. Whether you love or are thrilled to do accounting work, as far as earning a decent wage goes, you are in the right profession.

    Except to my previously chosen industry, my skills are much softer and, as such, much harder to use to carve a new role for myself. We are still without my income which was 60% of our household income and all I can say to that is that I am glad we saved what we did when we did (and, boy, don’t I wish I’d foregone so much frivolity and saved more, much more).

    So, don’t quit the freaking job. Yet. But DO figure out the best way to.

    And, I am curious, what if you refused to cancel your trip to NC? What, exactly, would have likely happened?

  5. You know, I don’t think you’ve ever said on here before that you earn 40% of your family’s income. You’ve always said things like “we sat down and looked at the numbers and we can get by on Charlie’s salary with a few sacrifices”. I think from that I’d been assuming that he was carrying far more of the financial side.

    Of course you can’t quit your job cold turkey if you’re bringing in almost half of the money.

    But I really do think there is room to wiggle and to explore and to find another option- less commuting time? fewer hours?- that would bring you a better balance. Even if you really don’t like your job, if you can find a way to make it take up less room in your life, then maybe it wouldn’t matter as much. It would just be a job, but a job that lets you do the things in your life that you want to do.

    That’s what I want, ultimately. Obviously I’d love to have a perfect job that makes me excited to go to it in the morning in my life filled with sunshine and rainbows, but when the chips are down, if it comes to a choice between having a fulfilling career and having a job, I want the latter if it means I will be able to be there for my son while also not panicking about the bills.

    It makes me so so so sad that you cancelled your vacation. I think I probably would have done the same thing. I suck at saying ‘no’ to people.

  6. […] Serenity Now! […]

  7. […] Serenity Now! […]

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