Love What You Do
When you come home from work in tears more days than not, maybe what you do isn’t a good fit any more.
That was me in my corporate job. One that really shouldn’t have caused me to break down due to frustration or general unhappiness. When that started happening frequently, I knew I needed a change. Quitting isn't always easy, but just because something's familiar doesn't mean it's always good.
This excerpt is from my essay Build a Foundation, Pull up Your Roots that appeared in the anthology Turning Tiny. To me, its my story about transitioning from a career that wasn't a good fit into something I truly love. The first step is knowing when to walk away.
Act 2: I Quit
“Never look back, unless you’re planning to go that way” – Henry David Thoreau
It was three more years before fear gripped me again. As our home filled out with each trip to the mountain, we were closer and closer to leaving our comfortable lives in Atlanta behind to embrace this new experience. I longed for this freedom more than I had ever wanted anything in my life, but terror flooded every cell in my body.
The house, while very much a real thing, was a symbol of so much more. There are a variety of reasons for building a tiny home. Some want financial freedom and others crave environmental accountability. For most, it’s a combination of reasons we’re unable to articulate. And for me, the three years we spent traveling three hours away from where we lived to build a small home in the mountains was the embodiment of my next steps. With a tiny house, I had the freedom to quit but I wasn’t entirely sure I had the fortitude. Maybe it was a crutch, but maybe not. The only way I would know was to let go.
These feelings pounded through my veins the day I gave my notice.
The angst I hadn’t known since writing bad poetry at age sixteen steamrollered me in bed at night. A racing heart and sleep don’t peacefully coexist. Did you know unexplainable itching is a sign of anxiety? I know now. The anxiety shifted its weight on an early April day while the wind was still sharp and showers prophesized the coming flowers. I quaked in my ergonomic desk chair, afraid that my quick pulse and darting eyes would betray me. I could hear the blood in my veins. “I Quit!” had to be scrawled on my forehead in thick, black sharpie.
I shook uncontrollably as I padded into my boss’s office, my body language timid. I held the envelope out to her and said, my voice faltering, “I need to give you my notice.” She looked at me, wide-eyed, without a word. In the pause, I sat down hard on the chair that faced her desk. “The tiny house is almost done and we’re moving to Asheville.” I felt compelled to fill the silence.
A few moments passed before she added her voice. To my surprise, she was excited for me. It was real now. I would live in my own tiny home. I had said it out loud to the people who would be affected the most by our decision, besides Matt and myself. There was no turning back now.
“Maybe you can work remotely,” she offered with exuberance.
“I would be open to that,” I said. Though I was leaving to start a new life, a safety net sounded less terrifying.
Over the course of the weeks to follow, the idea of working remotely was shot down by my coworkers. To this day I have no idea why. I can only imagine the worst. They couldn’t wrap their minds around why I would quit.
After I left it was apparent that completely pulling up these roots would be the better choice by far.
My last day finally arrived. I spent my final weeks tying up loose ends, leaving no knots untightened. My successor was successfully trained. Eight long years with the same people and the curtain finally fell. “The End” scrolled across the screen. While I was good at what I did, and my coworkers were good people, I spent years suffocated by an invisible fog.
My coworkers gave me a gorgeous potted plant as a gift on my last day. New roots I could plant by the tiny house.
Within a year the plant had died.
Since that time, I have worked for myself. It’s not always easy – freelance work is a constant hustle. But I love what I do, and that makes the hard work worth it. They say when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I don’t know clichés are always true, but loving what you do certainly makes it easier to do the parts that you don’t particularly enjoy.Do you love what you do? If not, how can you make that change in your life? Tell me about it in the comments.