In January 2009, I knew I wanted to quit my boring desk job in pursuit of something that would make me happier.
I had an acting degree from one of the best art schools in the country, and I was performing and writing sketch and improv comedy with some of the most talented people in New York City. But by age 28 I found myself in an accidental career as an executive assistant at a music law firm. I was totally miserable.
Sometimes I talked to famous people. The rest of the time, I answered phones, made photocopies, updated spreadsheets, filed papers and fetched eating utensils for my boss. I didn’t like it. It hurt my body. It made me crave sunshine, fresh air, and something more stimulating. I couldn’t stand the idea of settling for what might be the perfect life for someone else. It wasn’t perfect for me. The work was monotonous, I was always grouchy and irritable, working a day job AND doing shows at night was exhausting me, and I wanted to collect all the message pads in my office and make a bonfire in the ladies room.
I hadn’t yet figured out that my own perspective was part of the problem. But I did know I had to make a change. Before I could pull the plug on the office assistant career, I spent nine months planning, saving and laying the foundation for my next adventure. And blogging all about it as I went.
Then I officially gave notice at my desk job on September 2, 2009. I was shaking when I walked into my manager’s office, but it turned out better than I expected.
My last day was about a month later – October 16, 2009 to be precise – and it was one of the best days of my life. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to quit that job without the support of my amazing readers.
Growing up, I was always taught how important it was to work. I was encouraged to put my nose to the grindstone no matter the task, to pull my bootstraps up and get the job done. I was also regularly told it would be impossible to make a living as an actor and artist. Naturally, I believed that for a very long time.
Ultimately, I couldn’t stay away from the entertainment industry, and quitting that boring desk job helped me realize that.
Some of my favorite posts about the experience of leaving my office assistant career are here, here, here and here. In short, choosing to shake up my life like that was one of the smartest things I ever did for myself.
Here’s a link to my popular post, “how to quit your job – 5 steps.”
After quitting, I spent a year as a self-employed baker, writer, actor, comedian and candlestick maker (no). Then, much to my dismay, I took another office job! A few months later, I quit THAT job! What! It actually wasn’t a terrible experience. More on all that here.
Today, I’m focused on performing, writing, teaching, and pursuing a career in comedy. I spend my days as the Managing Director of the Peoples Improv Theater (the PIT) and I’m more clear about what I want than I’ve ever been before. It hasn’t been easy to figure out which of my skills and interests are worth turning into a career, and which are best left as hobbies, but I’m discovering more every single day, and when I’m old and gray and hanging out with my grandkids, I know I’ll be able to say I pulled up my boot straps and got the job done on my own terms.