Jordan Reid is the cheerful, creative writer and television host behind the blog, Ramshackle Glam, a great site that offers everything from simple, yummy dinner ideas, to reviews of hot vacation spots, to how to’s for fixing up old furniture or making homemade pickles.
But the talented 29-year-old wasn’t always quite so fulfilled in her professional life. A couple years ago Jordan found herself unhappily employed at a law firm – it was a corporate job that left her feeling frustrated and uninspired. One day, after an irritating incident in the office landed a mess of obnoxious emails in her inbox, she’d finally had enough. So she quit! And she’s glad she did. (Click here to read Jordan’s post from August 2009 about the day she quit her job.)
The New York City native is known for more than just her current web and media presence. Jordan was also an original cast member on the fan-favorite “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” And she first emerged onto the blog scene via Non-Society.com, an often-criticized but popular “life-casting” site.
Jordan famously made the decision to leave Non-Society and strike out on her own when she began Ramshackle Glam earlier this year. After weathering the transition from one blog to another with grace and humility, hers remains one of my favorite sites. She writes with personality, heart and the refreshing ability to laugh at her own mistakes.
Had Jordan Reid not left a job that made her unhappy, Ramshackle Glam and all the other exciting aspects of Jordan’s new career may not exist today.
She graciously allowed me to ask her a few questions about quitting her job to pursue what makes her happy. Read on to learn what Jordan had to say about the risky decision she made, the people who supported her unconditionally, and her advice for anyone who wants to follow her lead.
Jordan, you were working at a law firm in NYC before you became a full time blogger and writer. You tell the story on your blog of the day you quit after some unpleasant emails from difficult coworkers made you realize you didn’t quite fit in. Do you think you felt out of place at that particular office or industry, or was it the corporate world in general that didn’t feel like the right fit?
I was working as an actress starting at age 13, and for the first four years after college I was self-employed, so I think part of the problem was that I had no experience with the corporate world and found it difficult to adjust. Not to generalize about “the corporate world” – that term encompasses such a wide variety of occupations and ideologies that I can’t necessarily say that the corporate world as a whole was or is a bad fit for me, but this job certainly was. It wasn’t the hours or the workload that felt off…it was the fact that I was spending my days doing something that didn’t appeal to my passions in the slightest, and had nothing to do with what I wanted out of life. I also wasn’t great at it, because I think it’s hard to be great at something that’s so out of line with your personal goals. And spending your day doing something that you dislike doing with all your heart simply isn’t a tenable situation.
One minor note: I wouldn’t call myself a “full-time blogger,” but rather a writer and television host who blogs 😉
Was that day just the last straw? Had you been daydreaming about quitting before that? Did you have any plans in place when you quit?
I’d been wanting to quit for some time, but yeah, that day was the last straw; I basically decided that I didn’t want to shed any more tears over my job. When I left, I had just started blogging, and I really didn’t know what would come of it – it was definitely a risky move, but I was at a point in my life when something – anything – needed to change, and I was willing to do whatever it took to not be where I was for one more second.
What were your initial feelings in the hours, days and weeks after quitting your job?
I know I should probably have felt scared, or doubted my decision…but I didn’t. I was so excited to be doing something different than what I’d been doing for the past two years that I think I sort of willfully ignored the potential pitfalls.
Now, looking back, did you make the right decision?
Absolutely, without question. But that’s not to say that this would be the right decision for everybody; I did something pretty crazy, and with a fair amount of recklessness. I think that I’m lucky that I was presented with an opportunity at a time when I could take it with minimal fallout – no kids, a husband with a job and insurance – and I know that there’s a fair degree of luck involved in how it’s all panning out.
Many people stay in jobs they hate because they think they cannot live without the salary, the health insurance, maybe even the routine. What advice would you give to someone who dutifully clocks in and out every day but is completely miserable while they do it?
I would say that the degree of risk I took is probably not particularly advisable for everyone; like I said, I was lucky to be presented with the opportunity at a time when I could take it. What I would say is that if you really feel that there is something that you are great at and that you love – and by this I mean not just hating where you are, but truly believing that there is somewhere else you need to be – you owe it to yourself to give that a shot. You need to be realistic about your ability to build a career in an unconventional field, so I’d say test the waters before diving in: if you want to be a blogger, offer to write guest posts for sites you admire; if you want to be an actress, start going on commercial auditions during your lunch break; if you want to be a chef, consider starting a weekend catering business with a friend. Try things on for size, and you’ll know when you’ve hit on the right path. You’ll just know it.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, always…starting around age four. I idolized Stephen King. Never for a second did I dream of being an actress; that was just sort of something that I fell into, and that distracted me for awhile from figuring out what I really wanted to do.
How did your parents feel about your decision to quit your job? And do they feel any differently about your choice now than they did the day you told them?
My parents had seen that acting didn’t make me particularly happy, and they certainly saw that my management job made me beyond miserable. We had long conversations almost on a daily basis during which they tried to help me “figure it out,” so I think when I finally did realize where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there, they were both thrilled and relieved. I think they’re probably still concerned about the lack of stability, but I like to imagine that they’re pretty proud.
How did your husband feel?
My husband is my biggest supporter. Remember, he was the one who saw how depressed I was on a daily basis, and once things fell into place with my career he saw an immediate and positive shift in my attitude that had a wonderful effect not only on me, but also on our marriage.
You have had some fantastic success as a blogger and writer in a short period of time. Was this the kind of work you imagined you’d be doing when you walked out of your law firm job for the last time?
I think that I started out with the realization that blogging was both something I was good at and something that made me happy, and then was fortunate enough to have a surprising variety of opportunities present themselves as a byproduct of the blog. I expected to get into freelance writing to some extent, but I didn’t imagine that I’d have such amazing opportunities arise so quickly. I also had never before thought seriously about hosting, but once I started doing it, I saw that it was the piece that had been missing in my career all along: it’s just my favorite thing in the world.
You’ve been an actress, a bartender, a legal assistant and I’m sure you’ve had other jobs too – do you regret any aspect of your career path? If you could go back in time would you change anything or do something differently?
There are certainly decisions I’ve made that I’ve questioned in retrospect: for example, I turned down a number of high-profile acting jobs in order to enroll at Harvard, making my agents and a number of casting directors pretty furious with me. Had I decided to defer admission for a year, maybe I’d have ended up a successful actress…but I don’t know that that would have made me happy. What I do know is that I’m happy now, and that every decision I’ve made over the course of my life has brought me to this point, so I can’t regret any of them. You can’t regret a decision based on its outcome – the only question is whether the decision you made was the best one you could have made at that time, given the information that you had available to you.
Now that you’ve been through the experience of quitting your job and living to tell the tale, do you have any sort of guiding philosophy or mindset to get you through difficult or slow periods, or do you just follow the path as it comes?
My mother once told me that one day I’d look back at my life and be unable to see how it could have possibly turned out any other way – and that I’d be happy – and I totally didn’t believe her. There were periods when I felt like such a failure, like I’d squandered so much potential and so many resources, that I didn’t know how I’d ever be able to say that I was proud of myself or what I was doing. I think that you have to remember that things can shift in an instant – you’re never stuck, and even if you feel like you are, remember that even the smallest changes can have enormous impact. Keep moving in the direction you want to go, even if you feel like you’re going at a creeping pace. Be honest with yourself, and shut out the noise. Your parents, your husband, your friends…they all want what’s best for you, but only you know what that really is.
Thank you, Jordan, for sharing your insight with us!!
(photo provided by Jordan Reid)