Have you had one of those years when you reached the end, looked back over the previous twelve months, and said, “Wait, what?!”
For me, that was 2016.
(Or, like, the previous five years, if I got creative and looked deep enough.)
2016 was one of those big “adulting” years for me and Husband. In the earlier half of the year we celebrated our third anniversary, bought our first house, and Husband started a shiny new job while I dreamed wistfully of quitting mine. Adulting seemed to be going … okay. A little iffy, but okay. I still didn’t have the whole meal planning and prep thing down (maybe I will by the time I’m 40), and neither of us was particularly skilled at managing our time. But we were paying our bills, making new friends, and settling into our adulty new home. We seemed like real grown ups!
Now, fast forward to the second half of the year. Husband and I, sitting in the car and eating peanut butter sandwiches on our shared lunch break, are miserable. We hate our jobs and know we’re meant to do something else, something that doesn’t make us want to cry first thing every morning or run away with half of our belongings and our cat.
But doing something else requires risk. Big, scary, failure-coated risk.
So we take our last bites of sandwich and think, Maybe we should just stay where we are. Where it’s safe. Where there’s no risk.
Where we’re miserable.
Friend, there’s nothing safe about being miserable.
So we both talked to our bosses and told them where we stood. We told them the jobs weren’t right for us — neither boss was surprised — and that we’d be out by the end of the year. Luckily, they were also supportive. They, too, knew what we’d already known for a while. They knew we needed to be doing something else.
Life, as it’s prone to do, decided that was a good time to throw a few curve balls our way. Not long after we gave notice at our jobs and started devoting our spare time to building our own dreams — his graphic design & screen printing business and my books and blog — I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Two weeks after that, we found out we were expecting our first baby.
We’d not only give up our safe, secure, not-right-for-us jobs, but suddenly we had an influx of medical costs and a baby to plan for.
There were days I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. Who would do this? I asked myself, almost daily. Who would quit a job to write, especially with a new mortgage and a baby on the way?
I would, apparently. We would. And there’s a lot of power in “we.”
But there’s also a lot of power in dissatisfaction. Mine, believe it or not, became exactly the companion I needed to quit my job in finance, which I’d kept for almost four years. (Note: An English major pretending to be a financial professional isn’t pretty.) It nagged at me daily; it pinched at my elbows each time I sat down at my desk, and it pushed me to finish my first full-length novel within the year.
Somehow, we’ve made it so far. Husband has worked tirelessly to build his business and bolster us while I blog and write and edit endlessly. Our incredibly supportive families and friends have made the transition easier, too, and even if they think we’re five miles north of crazy, they don’t tell us.
Some days, I think I’m crazy. I spend hours chugging through a pot of coffee (decaf, of course, for the baby bean), throwing words on the page and planning book series and blog posts and learning how to format manuscripts and query agents and self-publish. Sometimes I reach the end of the day and think, What good was that? What did you even accomplish? Look at her — she has TEN books for sale already! Why aren’t your books on the shelves yet?
Then I take myself by the shoulders, look myself in the eye, and remind myself that these are the early days. This is just the beginning. These are the days that you need to experience to become the writer you’re meant to be.
(And then I remind myself that I also need more coffee.)
If I do this, if I stick it out and get through this scary, tumultuous, what-if-I-fail part, I really believe I’ll be able to help more people than I would have had I stayed at that desk, including my own family. You don’t do what you’re meant to do just for yourself. You do it for other people, too.
So yeah, this is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a challenging, worthwhile journey, not just into motherhood, but authorhood. (They’re more alike than you’d think.)
This blog is just the beginning.
This book is just the beginning.
This story, like yours, is just the beginning of something very, very good.
Want to go with me?
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