My boss went slightly paler than normal when I said, “I have some news.” He pushed aside his desk lamp and tilted his head slightly. Then he sighed, seeming to know what was coming.
“I’m putting in my notice,” I said.
He nodded, saying he figured this would happen soon enough. I had worked at the job for 6 years, and had just gotten married. There was no upward mobility at the organization. It was time.
I had been nervous to tell my boss because my choice to leave was unusual for the career-focused professional world of DC: I didn’t have another gig lined up. Would he and others at my workplace say that I was crazy? That I was ruining my career? Ask me how on earth I would explain the gap in my résumé to future employers?
Nope. I have received nothing but kind support. My boss said that it makes sense to regroup in order to move forward. Others in my program congratulated me on what they thought was a great plan. Maybe people are snickering behind my back, but that’s not my problem.
I don’t know why I’m surprised at receiving support. Probably because it is rare for professionals to step off the employment conveyer belt and take stock of what they want in this life. Yet people seem to find joy in others’ risk-taking.
Several months ago, one of the bosses in my office, George, relayed the story of his friend quitting his high-level job to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for half a year. After George decided to join his friend for one week on the trail, he came back to the office transformed—it was as if the smell of campfire and clean air clung to him. “It’s fucking fantastic,” George said as he walked by my desk, lungs full of life and shoes full of battered toenails. “You have to do it.”
Once my plan was in motion, it was easy. This thing I had worried about for years. All it took was one shove from me and the boulder was tumbling down the mountain.
It helps that I will have health insurance through Joe’s employer. And we can survive off of his salary for a while. Money will be a little tight. Our first Christmas together might be like a modern Gift of the Magi, where Joe sells his Apple watch to buy me an appointment to ombré my hair and I chop off all my hair to buy him a sport band for his watch, but that’s fine. That’s the true Christmas spirit.
It also helps that warrior women all around me are doing the same thing: Two women from work left to pursue their own interests; two of my best friends moved from the States to Europe in search of something different; a high school friend moved from near our hometown to Austin without a job lined up; friends in Maine are kicking ass at writing and being in love with their state.
And none of these women regretted their decisions. After she had a hard week, I asked my friend who had moved to France whether she ever felt like she made a mistake. “Not at all. I feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders.” My friend in Germany pointed out that Europeans find it odd if you don’t take time off between jobs, asking how on earth you know what you want to do if you rush into the next thing. My former colleague said it was as if she woke up from a deep slumber as soon as she left.
Maybe I am finally listening to what the universe is telling me.
The sun sets on my job in early November. Then, 4 days later, Joe and I will go on an extended honeymoon to Vietnam—with a stopover in Japan—for 3 weeks. When we come back, we will see what happens.
I don’t know where this journey will take me. Even though I am scared, I feel like I am coming into my own. Reclaiming my roots. Finally wearing jeans rather than pencil skirts. And that alone fills me with joy.
Until next time,