Three months ago I quit my job. I never would’ve guessed that my grandma would’ve died in the time since I left. I was hoping we’d have at least another year together. But God had other plans, and I have to accept that. As I’m reflecting on the past 90ish days, I wanted to share a little bit about what it’s like not having a 9-to-5 anymore.
What I’ve Learned
Aggressive saving is totally worth the freedom of not having to work
When I was working, I was saving about twice as much money as I spent each week. That allowed me to essentially “buy” my future self at least one week’s worth of freedom for every week I worked. That’s what allowed me to leave my job when I did – without having to work for about a year.
When my grandma suddenly took a turn for the worse this past month, I hopped right in the car and took her to the hospital. I didn’t have to leave work or ask anyone to “cover” for me or request a few days off. Being able to spend the last days with my family and my grandma while she was in hospice in our home is one of the greatest gifts of my life. It was a privilege and a blessing, profoundly beautiful. My big Italian family staked out at my house, having our “Sunday dinners” every night of the week, for more than 10 days. We mourned and grieved, and I didn’t have to miss any of it! I loved the peace of knowing I didn’t need to be anywhere other than right where I was.
There’s probably not “that one job” that combines all my interests
I love learning languages, reading books, blogging, figure skating, dancing, and studying personal finance. Try making a career out of that! I’m warming more and more to the idea that maybe I’ll just have a bunch of part-time jobs doing things that I love. Sure it doesn’t bring the “security” of a full-time job with benefits, but I think I can contribute more to the world doing things I love.
I’m currently doing a bit of copy editing, writing, and coaching figure skating on a part-time basis. I also volunteer once a week.
Plan for more unexpected expenses than expected
Between routine maintenance on my car, medical bills, and an unexpected car tax, I’ve shelled out about $2000 of *unexpected* expenses these last few months. Thankfully, I was able to use my emergency fund for those expenses! As annoying as it was to pay that amount of money, I knew that I had the money to do it.
It’s hard to imagine going back to a “desk” job
This lesson isn’t so surprising because I don’t know many people who miss their cubicles. Yes, I miss the camaraderie of the office, but the freedom of setting my schedule far outweighs that.
I’ve thought a lot about whether I’ll return to TV news. If I do go back, it’ll be on a part-time freelance basis so that I can determine when I want to work and plan it around more important things. I won’t go back to working holidays or weekends or overnights. When you’re a full-timer with full benefits, they can tell you to do whatever they want essentially, so I’m willing to live with the consequences of fewer benefits/lower pay in exchange for more freedom and flexibility with my time. It’s all a trade-off.
I like to cook
Not being out of the house for 12+ hours 5 days-a-week has given me a lot more time to cultivate my newfound interest in cooking. I can no longer use the “I don’t have time” excuse. I’ve been finding a lot of recipes on pinterest and even checked out a Paleo cookbook from the library. I’ve read a bit about eating Paleo, so I’m trying it out to see if it helps with fatigue and makes me feel more vibrant!
My family has been noticing my extra time in the kitchen, especially making baked goods (like these Paleo chocolate chip cookies). My uncle even nicknamed me “Vicki Crocker” (I have NEVER liked the nickname Vicki, by the way).
What I Struggle With
Still learning how to not feel like “I need to be productive”
Recently, I was lamenting about how little I’ve “accomplished” since I’ve been left worth. Here’s the thought process: My net worth is down, I don’t have a job, blah, blah, blah. It’s a terrible way to judge someone’s life. But perhaps I’m most hard on myself about the fact that I still feel the itch to be productive pretty much ALL THE TIME. Case(s) in point:
- I try to stretch while doing the Rosary to get 2 things done at once (why!?)
- When I wake up, I think of about 8 things I “need” to google before I even get to the bathroom (and it’s only about 10 ft away)
- I judge myself for not reading the books I checked out of the library sooner or faster
- I feel guilty and question the “value” in watching a good movie
Money still feels like my security blanket (though I’m loosening my grip)
I’ve realized more and more how so many of my decisions around money are based in fear. Will I have enough to pay for an emergency medical expense? What if I go hungry? I need to save, save, save so I never have to worry. I have to prepare to take care of myself financially because what if no one ever will help me?
The tracking of my spending can almost be obsessive. I’ll weigh the pros and cons of buying a $6 sandwich for 15 minutes. Why can’t I just buy the sandwich without guilt or second thought?
Still care about others’ opinions of me/my decision
Invariably, I’ve met new people and have been asked, “What do you do?” It’s an innocent question, but it feels too personal to explain to someone I barely know why I left my job when I did and get into the details of my grandma’s illness. So sometimes I give a reader’s digest version, hoping they’ll find my decision admirable, but at the same time feeling like I’m “less than” for not being fully-employed.
Now, I’m well-aware that I’m projecting onto the people with whom I talk. They might not think I’m less valuable, lazy, unintelligent because I’m unemployed. I wish I could say that I 100% don’t care what other people think, but it’s not true. I often find myself defending my decision so I can curry favor in someone else’s eyes.
So yes, I still struggle with insecurity, but I’m so grateful that I have a loving Father who loves me anyway. He loves me as is. My mantra has become, “You don’t have to do anything,” as in, “you don’t have to do anything to be loved, valued, cherished.” It’s true for all of us. The world would like us to think otherwise (so they can sell us more stuff).
I need to remind myself daily of God’s love and ask for not only His grace and mercy, but also His eyes so that I can see things as He does. I’m sure I will spend my whole life trying to grasp God’s love.
Quitting my job has given me the privilege to step back from the working world and pause. It didn’t solve my self-doubt or judgment, but it’s giving me some extra time to pray and reflect on why I believe certain (false) things about my character. I’m sure I’ll look back on this time fondly and miss when this stage passes. As much as I want to “take advantage” of this freedom, I have remind myself that there’s no pressure. There’s no pressure from God to learn this or that. There’s no pressure to root out all of my flaws right now. To just be and know I’m loved, that is my goal.