Before I write this post, I wanted to mention that I’ve gotten a couple emails from readers recently who want to see more photos of me on the blog. Hm! This surprised me to hear, but I appreciate the feedback. I’m not sure I’m going to start adding a lot of photos of myself as a regular thing, but I’ve saturated this post with them, at least. If you don’t wanna see my face over and over, skip this entry.
Today marks the end of my first week working for myself.
My last day at the desk job was in mid October. And once I was finally free and clear, we had a big ol’ party, and then I took a vacation. It was blissful.
The vacation involved spending an entire week right here in New York doing next to nothing. Naturally, the days still got filled up – I cooked, baked, hung out with friends, saw shows, exercised, grocery shopped in the middle of the day – I didn’t end up doing much lolling around. But it was still time very well spent. I felt relaxed, in control, peaceful, content. And even though I had to constantly remind myself that this wasn’t just a vacation week from my desk job, but actually the beginning of an entire lifestyle change, I was thrilled and grateful every time I remembered.
True to my word, I woke up on Monday morning of this week, the vacation week having ended, and got to work on my own stuff. No more laying around watching TV or drinking beer with friends at 4:30 in the afternoon. (Although if I had a strong urge to do that, I’d probably check with my boss to see if it was okay. And she (me) would probably say, HELL YES.)
This week it was finally time to focus on my own projects and to do what I set out to do when I told my old job that I was quitting: Pursue work I’m passionate about. So far, it’s been interesting. And awesome. And, at times, challenging. But I’m all in all, I’m loving it.
As I mentioned, I have decided, not surprisingly I suppose, that the bakery my girlfriend and I have been working to get off the ground since the spring, can now use some of my more focused attention. Faryn and I began building Fanny & Jane when we were both working full time, and it was hard to fit it all in. We spent lots of late nights and weekends and early mornings organizing our little business.
Before I left my desk job, I wasn’t sure if I’d want to focus some of my energy on the bakery or not. But now that I’m here, it hasn’t taken long for it to dawn on me that the business we’ve been tirelessly setting up for ourselves would be the perfect way for me to spend my time and earn some extra money. Besides, our recipes are burning holes in our desk drawers – why not really go for it and sell some sweets this holiday season! So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
And that’s precisely what most of my week this week has involved.
(This is Faryn and me. Photo by the gifted photographer, Eric Michael.)
I spent a relatively leisurely day on Monday at the computer, emailing with Faryn, working to build our new website, complete with an online shop (which we hope to launch in the next few days!), and generally organizing myself around the idea of spending now until December 20th, more or less, baking and shipping and invoicing and baking. I took a long break in the middle of the day for a run, and I got a lot accomplished. All in all, it was a delightful day “at the office,” where my coworkers are two sleepy cats and the sunshine is right outside my front door.
Heaven. And exactly what I’d wanted and imagined when I daydreamed of quitting my job a year ago.
The rest of the week, however, wasn’t so luxuriously ideal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stuck in an office. And “anything but the office” has been my motto for quite some time.
But I don’t have it all quite figured out yet.
My sleep schedule has been screwy, finding me wide awake at 4am, and having to take a nap here or there in the middle of the day to catch up.
Harvard Sailing Team and Baldwins rehearsals and shows were added back into my life this week, where, miraculously, I didn’t have any rehearsals or shows during my vacation week. That’s something that happens maybe only twice a year – a week without any shows. So those things became part of my schedule again this week – not a big deal, but something to work with.
(This is my good friend Meg and me during one of our Baldwins improv shows. Photo courtesy of the incredibly talented Keith Huang, who is also a good friend.)
(This is me during the Harvard Sailing Team Holiday Special last December, doing a sketch with my friend Adam. This photo is also courtesy of Keith Huang, who has never taken a bad photograph.)
Not to mention, the large amount of baking I’ve gotten done this week – fulfilling several orders from Faryn’s coworkers and our friends and family. This has not been the first week that I’ve had to bake during every free moment this year, and it will not be the last. But it was the first time I was doing it instead of a full time job – baking when I would have otherwise been answering phones at reception or signing for fed ex packages.
Of course, I loved that. That, again, is why I quit. Because I imagined myself doing things like baking all day, instead of filing paperwork or sending faxes. But getting organized and staying within a baking schedule was something new and sometimes difficult.
(That’s me standing in my mom’s kitchen in Illinois in the spring, in the middle of a long day baking sweets for my aunt’s surprise birthday party.)
A common struggle I’ve heard from people who’ve left their jobs for one reason or another is that you imagine you’ll have all this time. And then the days pass and they get filled right up and suddenly you’re busier than you’ve ever been, even though you’re no longer going to an office for 9 hours every day. I’ve had the exact same experience this week. Where did the time go!?
And I’m choosing to find a way to make peace with it all. Because I didn’t quit my job to be all stressed out and upset over how many fun, easy, cool things I now get to do all day long. Fitting them all in takes finesse, but the rewards are great and I will learn.
Forgive me if I’m repeating myself from earlier posts this week. I just needed to reiterate this for myself.
Financially, I’ve done pretty well for myself this week, which is excellent. It’s only week one, but it’s a good feeling to know that money is still coming into my life, even when I’m not a salaried employee.
I’ve learned that I need to be gentle with myself. Just because I have many more available hours in my day now doesn’t mean that I can and should pack them full and expect to accomplish everything under the sun. I cannot make promises to people that I can’t keep in terms of my time just because I’m no longer working a desk job. I cannot create a To Do list that is ten miles long and then feel disappointed, rushed, and stressed when it doesn’t get completed. I cannot be unrealistic with how much I can fit into a day. And I cannot start shoving aside the very things that I require to feel whole – like exercise, yoga, sleep, eating healthy food – in order to make everything fit into its place. I skipped a couple workouts this week and I don’t have the “I’m so busy with this stupid desk job!” excuse any more. The only excuse I have now is that I chose not to make the time for myself. It’s eye-opening to realize that the desk job wasn’t the only thing – and maybe not even the main thing – keeping me from spending my time how I wanted to.
I’ve also been reminded this week that nothing is perfect – that even this time, which is, in theory, one of the most exciting times of my life, will still have unpleasant aspects. I will still be running late to things sometimes, and I will still have to break promises sometimes, and I will still oversleep and be upset with myself for half of the day over it sometimes, and I will still overeat sometimes, and I will still not do things perfectly sometimes. It’s life.
(Me, just after waking up, in Charleston, SC on a trip last year with Harvard Sailing Team.)
Beyond those challenges though, this has also been an amazing week, and the net result of all this is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my adult life.
I realize that might sound like a grand statement, but it’s true. My life from ages 17-21 sucked, to be blunt. And then, as I improved things slowly but surely, I had to swallow the bitter pills of young adulthood that we’re all faced with: working jobs I hate, living in apartments that are crappy, living paycheck to paycheck. And as earnestly as I tried to find happiness within those unpleasant experiences, it’s not until now that I’ve finally found myself in a place where I can take matters into my own hands, where money doesn’t dictate what I do day in and day out, where I finally feel all the pieces falling into place in ways that I only dreamed of when I was 21 years old and despondent over the mess I’d made of my life.
Things are so good right now. This is all so good. I’m spending my days and nights baking sweets, taking photos, rehearsing comedy, exercising, cooking, and commuting around New York City. And I’m not broke and I’m not overweight and I’m not unhappy and I’m not uninspired and I am about to turn 29. And it’s just so incredibly good.
(Kevin and me in Florida last year.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up my apartment and start making a huge feast of veggie lasagna, chopped salad and garlic parmesan bread – some of my very best friends are coming over tonight for our first monthly Western Brooklyn Supper Club (which is basically just the members of Biggest Loser Club getting together to eat dinner, instead of getting together to watch Biggest Loser). I can’t wait to hang out with my friends on this HallowsEve!
Thank you again to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive and kind toward me throughout the experience of leaving my job and starting a new life. I cannot thank you all enough for your readership and for your cheerleading. I could not do this without you. And I would not be where I am right now without the experiences and friendships that writing this blog has brought into my life. So, thank you.