The real reason I quit my day job.
Last month I quit my day job.
I worked for a small graphic design studio in San Luis Obispo where I got to spend my days with rad people making weird and wonderful art for a living and I LOVED IT. I know what you're thinking: "Are you bananas? That sounds AWESOME!"
You're not wrong. It was.
So why quit a job that I loved? The answer, my friends, is two-fold.
PART 1: "Running from fear"
If there's one thing in my life that has always been true it's this: I am an artist.
As a kid, I was always drawing, dancing, making up songs, and writing stories. My best friend and I would "design" clothes using our Barbie fashion plates. We had a notebook that we would pass back and forth, taking turns writing bits of a "novel" (some teenage love drama, I'm sure). We would dress up and put on plays. We would choreograph dances and perform for friends and family (or in the Junior High Mock Rock, from which I am scarred to this day - don't ask).
I was on the dance team and in a cappella choir in high school. I want on to major in interior design in college. I ended my college career with a cultural study abroad in Paris (the best investment I'd ever made in myself).
I returned to my hometown after graduation in late 2006 and took a "safe" job at an architecture firm because it was related to what I had studied in school (I was "using" my degree!).
Then came the crash. When the recession hit, I needed a creative outlet when my hours at my job were cut in half.
At first, I designed wedding invitations for friends, which slowly expanded into invitation design. I actually had a decent amount of business, but I discovered I didn't like working with brides. *gasp*
Then I opened up an Etsy shop called Inkling Paper where I designed and sold handmade paper goods, but I discovered I didn't like the production side of running a stationery business. Okay. Moving on. (p.s. the website is still up as a reminder to myself how far I've come as a creative. Take a look and don't laugh too hard. I made the website on my iMac using iWeb in 2008)
In addition to all that, I joined Minted in 2008 and began submitting to the design challenges (rather infrequently if I'm being honest). I had some designs picked up and discovered that it was a good fit for me in that I could pursue whatever creative direction I liked, do the design work up front, and collect a commission check each quarter. This was my introduction to passive income and I've been a part of the Minted creative community ever since (this year marks 10 years!)
I kept my day job all that time picking up skills along the way which would lead me to a complete change in industry (from architecture to graphic design), but I always made art on the side. Something called me to do it. I couldn't hide from it.
At times, when I was unhappy in my job (specifically, toward the end of my architecture days), John would ask me "why don't you just quit and work for yourself?".
I made excuses not to do it (So. Many. Excuses.), most of which revolved around money and all of which gave me a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why was I so scared to take the leap?
Here's the honest truth:
I DIDN'T BELIEVE IN MYSELF ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY DO IT.
PART 2: "There's this this guy in my life..." (it always starts with a guy, doesn't it?)
I never thought I wanted to be a mother. Mostly because my life seemed great just the way it was thankyouverymuch, and I loved the freedom of a life with few ties, but when I found out in early 2016 that I was (blessedly, unexpectedly) pregnant, my heart expanded just enough to allow for the possibility of something even better.
In October of 2016, I gave birth to a baby boy. It was, physically, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. When he was born, his perfect fingers and toes were so tiny they looked like little grains of rice. My heart expanded again.
Transitioning into motherhood was incredibly hard for me. People don't talk enough about what you go through after giving birth (or maybe they do, but I didn't get the full picture). Physically, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck: my ribs ached from pushing the baby out; I had to use a nursing pillow to sit on because my downstairs was sore for weeks; I had a really hard time breastfeeding and my nipples were torn raw. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I remember sitting out in our backyard and sobbing uncontrollably for no reason. I had a perfect little family and I was so sad. Why? I was so completely unprepared for what parenthood would bring. Thank goodness for my husband and my mom. John steered the ship through the storm and got us through the other side in one piece, while my mom was (and still is) the crew that took care of me in his absence. Through it all, I learned. I had to. I had a sweet little boy that was depending on me.
Time passed and I slowly got the hang of being "Mom" (although I'm definitely still learning something new every day). And with time I gained confidence. Not just in being a mother but in myself as a person. If I can grow, birth, feed, nurture and care for another human being, what can't I do?
That simple mindset shift put everything into perspective.
I started to set boundaries and say "no" to almost everything that didn't serve me (hop onto my email list if you're interested in hearing more about my philosophy on the power of "no", my favorite word in all the land).
I began working on my mind and learning how to manage my thoughts, which began to reframe the way I saw the world and my place in it.
I started painting again and feeding my soul the creative inspiration it had been missing.
I formed amazing new friendships and gently ended old ones.
I realized I didn't care so much what people thought of me and that I was done trying to please everyone.
So, why did I quit? Because something in me shifted. I shifted.
As I began to look inward for alignment I realized that I had the power to do whatever I wanted with my life and that all I had to do was believe that I could.
I can be the one to raise my son, hear his laugh in the backyard during the day, and put him to bed every night.
I can build a successful business doing what I love as an artist.
I can create a happy marriage with the man I love more than anyone.
I can travel and learn and explore.
I can do all these things because I believe in myself. It may not come quickly or look the way I expect it to, but I'm okay with that. If the last two years have taught me anything, it's that happiness is in the journey and it's my choice to seek it out every day, throw it into a half-nelson, and wrestle it to the GD ground.