Lesson Learned: Money Isn’t Everything

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jobI am a corporate dropout. There, I said it.

I don’t necessarily say this proudly, but I also don’t say it with regret.

I don’t say this eagerly, yet I also feel a wave of relief.

I don’t admit defeat; I declare transparency.

I surrender to what I feel in my heart. I embrace being comfortable with being uncomfortable about transitioning out of a role that left me feeling unfulfilled. Yes, it was a scary decision to make, but that reinforced I needed to do it. In life, we should not feel guilty for doing what is best for us, right? Right.

I revel in the idea of being a more present parent, of alleviating stress, of pursuing my true passions and releasing the pursuit of perfection in a corporate role that demands you to be imperfectly perfect. Maybe one day I will climb the corporate ladder again, but for now, I love the chance to focus on living life outside the corporate box, and to be a better mom.

Sometimes things just are not the right fit. That’s why they have a return window, right? I had never really viewed jobs or careers as having a return window, yet, it seems appropriate. Y’all, if we pick up something off the rack, or order something online, and it looks amazing and soft and cute and ridiculously fashionable, that’s GREAT! Yet, once we try it on at home, perhaps it’s kind of itchy, and it doesn’t quite conform to our body the right way, and the polka dots aren’t as cute as they seemed, and it’s just not something we want in our rotation, then it’s time to take it back. Maybe it was meant for someone else.

Now, granted, a career change is a big deal, and is not the same as returning an item to a store. Yet, follow me here, don’t we spend a HUGE amount of our time with our job? With co-workers? With work tasks and obligations? I think we can all agree resoundingly the answer is YES. If you truly examined it, if you work full time, you probably spend more time with your job, your co-workers, your work to-do list, than you do with your family and friends. Ouch, right? But it’s often the case. So in reality, if something is off, and the fit is not right, this kind of a “return” is far more worthy of consideration and validation than any item from a store, right? Right.

I know I am not alone when I say our happiness matters; it just does. Money is nice, of course, but it certainly does not create happiness. I have battled some guilt because the company I left was a great one, and financially rewarding; the resignation and departure were beyond amicable. I had interviewed with them for a WHOLE year! I breathed this opportunity. Ultimately, when they said they wanted me on board, I cried. I was so excited, so proud of my perseverance throughout such a grueling process. I believed in this company, and I believed in me with this company for the long haul.

But at some point, as days and weeks went by, I felt off. I felt drained. I felt sad. I felt alone. I felt like my mind and body were out of alignment. The harder I worked at my job, the more work that got added; and it wasn’t work that “called” to me or incited my passion. The lengthy days sometimes spanning 12 hours, the non-stop back-to-back-to-back virtual meetings, the strain on my personal time, the perpetual “mom guilt” for having to do work as soon as I got my son off the bus or for being constantly distracted or for being too tired to do much at night, the endless work text strings and e-mail exchanges, the lack of personal interaction (thanks, COVID!), the working late at night and on the weekends to keep up with tasks and projects…over time, it all just ate at me. Chomped and chomped.

Unfortunately, those initial tears of joy for my job transformed into tears of angst, and at random times. Wednesday at 1 p.m…SURE, go ahead and start crying ugly tears, Andee. Monday at 11 a.m., go for it, Andee, you baby! I was perpetually beating myself up and fighting thoughts I was weak when in reality, I was just stressed and unhappy with how I was spending a hefty amount of my time. I knew I could always get another job, but I couldn’t get this time back with my son. Side note: Crying can help alleviate stress.

I was also losing sleep; I would wake up sweating with anxiety. The role just did not align with my passion. I so badly wanted to not be miserable, and it frustrated me I could not fix this. I had to fix this, I thought. But it was like I kept trying to jam the wrong piece of a puzzle into a spot it would never fit. Sigh.

The pandemic changed a lot of industries, including mine. I was trying to stay afloat amidst a sea of virtual avenues, but I was drowning with displeasure. I craved more: More interaction, more balance, more possibilities, more validations of purpose. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and it ate at me I did not feel I was accomplishing that.

Ultimately, in life, there are some things we just cannot change, but as I often proclaim, we can always control two things no matter what is going on around us: Our attitude and our effort. So, I chose to channel my energy and skillsets in a different direction; I want to be the best version of myself. I know I deserve that, and it will make me better to those around me.

I am going to share some very relevant cliches now because they truly apply to my story and illuminate the importance of following your heart: We live and we learn. Life is short. Invest in those who invest in you. In times of darkness, we recognize what truly matters. Your kids grow up so fast. Money is not everything. We are never promised tomorrow.

Quitting a job is scary, yes…but what’s even scarier is the thought of wasting precious time, of looking back on your life, and having regrets. For anyone out there experiencing what I experienced, I’m going to add one more mantra…Keep. Going. Find your passion, do what’s best for YOU, and find your balance in this ONE, crazy, beautiful life: You deserve it.

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