Of all the decisions that I have made the biggest most defining for myself has been to quit my job. There is this taboo of “quitting”. It starts when we are children and it’s drilled into us, like saying “please” or “thank you”. The concept of quitting is frowned upon. Adults and children throw around the word “quitter” like it’s a weapon. I can’t begin to count how many times I have continued doing something only because I didn’t want to be a “quitter”. And all that is wrong. That thought process is so self-defeating and pointless.
Life is changing EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF THE DAY and what may be great yesterday or this morning may be an absolute waste of time and energy this afternoon. Our ability to survive and thrive with those changes is what makes us who we are. If we are constantly fighting the tides of change our life becomes a big struggle. So should we quit everything that is challenging or not fun or difficult, maybe. But more importantly, I believe we should honor that we change and that life changes and that you have to be open and willing to make changes.
When I set out on my career path, I was single. Not only was I single but I literally had no relationships outside of my nuclear family and lived in a town where my only contacts where career related. I was 25 years old, the economy was tanking (I was working in insurance sales and commissions where hurting) and I lived in a smallish city where there weren’t a lot of career options. So I threw myself into working towards a career as a paralegal. I took courses, enrolled in college for my certificates and took a job at the county superior court. I jumped at every opportunity I could to learn and network and eventually found a position as a paralegal in a family law practice. It only took me two years and I was proud and content. Flash forward to 2015.
It had been ten years since I started my career. I was working for a GREAT firm. I loved my coworkers, my boss, the commute was great, and I enjoyed my work. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else. I loved being a paralegal. I felt challenged without being defeated. I felt respected. I was learning new things all the time. My professional network was great. But… now I was married to a man I adore. I had three young children, including a newborn. My oldest was starting Transitional Kindergarten and I had two babies in daycare (ages 3 and 3 months).
There was NOTHING wrong my my career other than I constantly felt I was going to let someone down. Kids get sick which means I have to be home with them and what if there is some emergency at work- I work in a law office. There are emergencies EVERY DAY. All of a sudden the obligations and responsibilities at work and home started to get heavier on my conscience.
“Should my 3 month old baby be in daycare for 10 hours a day?”
“My 5 year old is at school for 10 hours without a nap!”
“My 3 year old has quit potty-training since the baby came because he wants attention but I am leaving him at preschool for 10 hours a day.”
“There’s a deadline at work at 3PM but the school has called and I have to go pick up my son from school.”
Then the Universe told me to slow down, my 3 month old got sick. Not just he wasn’t feeling well but he was in the hospital with a collapsed lung. Bronchiolitis with atelectasis. Then the next week I found a lump in my breast. Not a oh that’s a pain lump, but a “we have to do a biopsy immediately!” lump.
I cried and cried and cried. Not because my son was sick and not because my other boys were being juggled around like pawns on a chess board. I was crying because I didn’t want to let my boss down. I didn’t want my clients to be let down and I didn’t want to “give up my career”.
I had started somewhere along the way to use my career as a way to define who I was, not what I did but really define myself as a person and to define my worth. The idea of giving up my job terrified me. If I am not a paralegal, a professional working woman capable of financially supporting myself what does that make me? I didn’t want to “be a stay-at-home mom”. I didn’t want to depend on my husband to support me financially. I didn’t want to give up who I am. I didn’t sleep well for weeks. Not that I slept well anyway, I have three small kids and a husband who snores. But it wasn’t the people I love that was keeping me from sleeping. It was the obligations that I was choosing. It was a choice.
So I talked with my husband, I cried when I held my boys as I snuggled them to bed and I made peace that I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t give all of me to my family and serve my boss and my clients the way they deserved. SO I quit.