You know, the one with great benefits, a pension, and total job security. Quit. Done. Goodbye commute. See ya later boss. Hasta la vista parking garage. Sayonara stable pay check. Seriously–yesterday was my last day.
Is this the right move? I’m not sure. But I’m ready to find out (also…I’m terrified to find out).
I’ve always had a traditional day job. To be honest, being a “worker” is a structural part of my identity. I’ve always taken pride in the work I do, and it’s been diverse over the years; vet tech, retail, teacher, government, program specialist. In fact, there was a time where I worked my full-time government job, took night classes in a masters’ program, and taught a College Freshman English course all at the same time. I was spread thin and exhausted, but I took pride in all 3 of those things. My husband was working equally as hard, so we didn’t see much of each other but we were totally killing it (and ourselves, a little) at work. My point is, I work hard. And I love it.
Babies change everything, don’t they?
And so when I got pregnant and gave birth to our daughter in 2012, I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Up until that point, my identity was wrapped up so tightly with being a “worker” that when I looked into her quiet eyes moments after she was born, feeling like I would die if I had to leave her sight for more than a minute, the thought of going back to work was enough to conquer everything I ever thought I was.
That’s where the seed was planted.
Could I quit my job? Could we make it financially? Could I retain my sanity if I lost that part of my identity?
That seed had a really long germination period. Somehow, I made it back to work after my daughter was born. We made a rudimentary plan to quit my job after our second child. But after our son was born in 2014, I looked into his eyes knowing we wouldn’t make it financially if I quit. And so my heart went cold every morning that I left for work and left my babies behind.
I don’t mean to be dramatic. I actually had it pretty good at work; I only had to go into the office 2 days a week. I did the rest of my work from home with 2 little ones running around my feet.
Identity is Complicated
Another part of my identity is a creative part. I’m happiest when I’m creating something. I’m at my best when I’m working on some sort of project. Our kids provided me with some direction for my (usually untamed) need to create. When I was pregnant with our daughter, I started to draw things for her. I drew some jungle animals for her nursery. When I look at them now, they’re absolutely terrible, btw.
For our son, I drew some woodland animals. By this point, I had practiced and learned a lot and I was able to produce things that were actually kind of cute, maybe even a little bit marketable. So in September 2014, one month before I went back to work after maternity leave with our son, I took my drawings to a print shop to scan them. I put the images into a Word document (yes—a Word document) to do some editing (if you can even call it that), printed them up on cardstock with my (terrible) photo printer, took some (terrible) pictures and posted them for sale on Etsy. That’s where MeganHStudio started. I would love to tell you that the rest is history, I was an instant success, and quit my day job the next day. I’m sure you can figure out that’s not actually how it happened.
But in 2018, pregnant with our 3rd child, I knew we could do it. We could do it. I could quit my day job. With a lot of hard work, MeganHStudio had grown to a point where it was consistently making good money. Plus, I had the full support of my husband and my parents all along. They had been telling me “you can do it” for years.
Now, I knew I could.
So I told my boss I was coming back after maternity leave when in fact, I had no intention of coming back. It’s not because I’m a liar. It’s because I didn’t want to cut ties until the very end just in case it didn’t work out.
My older kids ask me sometimes if I ever have to go back to “the office that’s far away,” and I get to tell them “no.” And when our youngest daughter was born in July 2018 I looked into her eyes with a kind of calm I’ve never felt, knowing I won’t have to leave her with a nanny all day long while I commute, work, travel, and then come home too exhausted to enjoy my kids.
Taking the Leap
I’ve gotten to a point where I’m comfortable letting go of the part of my identity that needed a day job. I’ve come to terms with that while I’ve been on maternity leave for the last few months. The hardest thing to let go of is the STABILITY of my day job. A guaranteed salary. Sick days. Vacation time. Weekends and holidays off. Other people to blame if something isn’t done right (wink). But if I got to the end of this life without taking this big step to find out if it will work, I would regret it.
And life, in many ways, is about limiting regretability: going for it; jumping in (because the water’s fine…hopefully), taking risks, trying something new.
6 years ago, I would have never guessed that we’d be paying the mortgage with fingerprint trees…but here we are. I’m scared. But I’d rather do it scared than not at all, so #HereGoesNothing!
^^ we don’t live at the beach, but we go to one every chance we get ^^ 🙂