the first month

Jen 1457

Yesterday, I happened upon an old post of mine, entitled “do what makes you happy (?)“, which I wrote back in May when I was still very much at the desk job. I knew I desperately wanted to leave but I didn’t see when or how I’d be able to make it happen any time in the immediate future. I’d been writing follow my bliss for almost six months.

I remember that particular day quite well, in fact. It was a beautiful day, one of the first very warm and summery ones of the season and I was absolutely beside myself at having to be inside sitting at a desk. Not being able to enjoy amazing-weather days was one of the reasons I had decided, back at the beginning of that year, that I couldn’t work in an office any more. I wanted to be able to enjoy the world and not let my youth pass me by. Maybe it sounded frivolous and childish to some, but yes, I wanted to be out in the sunshine.

I was so frustrated that morning. I’d been good about being positive and hopeful and working toward my goals. I’d felt proud of how I’d stayed focused on making progress and not wallowing in the discontent of my present circumstances, but I woke up that morning just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to gripe and moan.

I wrote:

It’s rewarding to be working toward the small business venture and other personal goals. But I’m feeling down today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I want to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant. I want to have left this job, be baking and selling sweets, be freelance writing, be taking yoga class every single day. I want an instant lifestyle makeover. I know that’s a lot to ask for.

I had to stop and reread that paragraph two or three times yesterday. I know that I set out to leave my job and do things that made me happier, which is why I’m where I am today. And I know that I started a bakery with a friend so that I could bake and sell sweet treats. But it was still strange – and thrilling – to read what I’d wanted out of my life six months ago, what I’d daydreamed about and felt like I might never achieve.

AND HERE I AM! AHHH!

I have to tell you that it was a personally awesome moment for me when I read that paragraph, took a look around and found myself having finally made my wish into reality. How amazing.

It was akin to remembering the middle of my journey to lose 115 pounds. There were times when it was easy, when the pounds melted off. But there were also times when it was hard as hell. When I wanted french fries, nachos, eleven slices of pizza and every cookie in the box. And I just wished and hoped and prayed that losing all the weight would one day become real. And then, one day, it did. Making progress is so fulfilling.

Another thing that struck me about that particular paragraph was that I’d said I wanted to bake and sell sweets. And I also said that I wanted to be taking yoga class every day. And that I wanted to be writing.

Now, I know those things about myself – that I love to write and take yoga class. But it’s very easy to make excuses for not doing things that I love to do, even now. I’m too busy, the bakery needs my attention, I’m too tired, I have nothing to write about, I don’t need to do yoga every day, I don’t need to do yoga every other day, I’m still finding out who I am and what I want. Going to yoga class costs money, it’s not going to earn me any money. Sitting down to write takes time, it’s not my focus right now.

All those things might be true. But it’s also true that there was a time when my vision for my perfect life included a few simple things. And sure, that vision will always be morphing and changing, but those are such easy things to add into my life! There was a time when I wanted more yoga and more writing, and I still want more of those things. And there’s no reason I can’t have them today. In that sense, it was enlightening to check back in with who I was when this reality was just a dream. And I owe it to the girl who sat at that desk every day for years and years to make sure I’m now really doing the things I set out to do. I am reminded of how much I craved this time back them. I am reminded of how desperately I wanted and needed to have a different lifestyle, and how elated I would have been if I’d actually been able to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant.

I’m still as pleased as ever with my decision to leave my job. It was, I maintain, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It almost makes me want to cry sometimes to realize how grateful I am that I’ve done this.

But life is life. Good, bad, hard, fun, boring, thrilling, tiring, rewarding and all the rest of it in between. And it can be easy to grow accustomed to the day to day. And there are good days and harder days.

There are days when I’m content and relaxed. When I just want to scoop the whole world up and hug it because I’m so happy and feel so lucky to be alive, to be 29 years old (which remains, one week into it, to be an excellent age, by the way), to be standing at the beginning of the best years of my life, with my fantastic boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend, by my side, living in the best city in the world, building my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

And then there are days when I feel grouchy, moody, frustrated, worried, stressed and when I feel small and incapable. Sometimes I feel like I won’t succeed. Like I will be back in a paycheck job in six months. There are days when I feel completely blah. Human. Normal. Days when I feel nothing. Because you can’t have joy without pain and you can’t have excitement without boredom.

And that’s okay with me. Being blissfully happy all the time was not the goal. The goal was living my life how I wanted to live it. The honeymoon is ending and I’m coming into the phase of this journey where it’s my normal. I left my job almost exactly one month ago. And I can sometimes hardly remember what it was like to go to that office every day. (On second though, if I try for a second I could probably remember it exactly.)

This is my life now – the good, the bad, the indifferent.

I also wrote in that post about the fear that was sometimes crippling to me:

…fear of being broke, fear of leaving a “good” job that allows the people who care about me (myself included) to sleep at night, fear of ending up exactly where I dream of going and discovering that it’s not what I wanted at all, fear of having what I want and learning how hard it really is, fear of missing my desk job, fear of choosing a road less traveled, fear of making the wrong choice, the right choice, the impulsive choice, the overly-planned choice, fear that I’m running away from something or toward the unknown, fear of not having built any kind of real career for myself by now, fear of being judged, fear of being laughed at, fear of being lonely…

And the truth is? All those fears are still here. But they’ve quieted substantially. Because the quickest and easiest way to quiet fear is to do what you’re afraid of. Done and done. If you think there’s a ghost in the closet, open the closet and find out. (That’s a real life example.)

I will still worry and have anxieties about whether or not I will succeed. But the very act of getting up every day and actively living my new lifestyle gives those fears no true voice. And that’s something I want to share with anyone who’s still at the beginning of their journey to follow their bliss:  the fears we have will never go away, but they are completely meaningless. Holding onto the fear and making decisions based on the fear does nothing to bring us closer to our goals and dreams, it only provides something for our tired brains to chew on when we’ve got nothing else to obsess about. And it also gives the fear all the power. If anyone’s holding the power, it should be YOU. You are not your anxieties and worries.

The last paragraph of that old post said:

The beautiful and painful bottom line of the whole self-created saga I’ve laid out here is that I and I alone am the only person who can make these choices and take these actions and nothing anyone says – not my boyfriend or my mother or my boss or my grandfather – is going to create what’s true for me. What’s true for me is what I decide to make true for me.

So I made it true. Here I am. I still don’t have a solid understanding of what will happen, what my life will look like, say, a year from now – when I turn 30, for instance. But if the last month is any indication, it’s going to look pretty great. I’m happy, healthy, active, LIVING MY DREAM, and creating more dreams to work toward. And it’s The Best.

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3 thoughts on “the first month

  1. Hi Jen, I’ve been reading your posts for a few weeks now and wanted to tell you how much respect I have for you. I think you’re incredibly brave for taking this step towards the life you want. I will take your advice and experiences to heart.

    Best of life to you!

  2. No matter how things turn out, at least you will know that you made a decision that you hoped/thought would make you happy… and that’s all you can ask for, right? The way that you’re navigating the unknown is really interesting to me!

  3. Patience is all fine and dandy, but patience while continually working towards your goals is a beautiful thing. And finally get there? Well, I can only imagine that part, but it must be the bomb. You are truly an inspiration and I hope to follow in your footsteps someday. I’m so glad for you!

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