“What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
– Ray Bradbury, from Zen In The Art Of Writing
I quit my job so I can write full time.
I’ve had various reactions to this development in my life. My parents and family are understandably concerned, partly because they believe I came to this conclusion too quickly, and partly because the full time work I was doing was in all respects, very practical. I was doing well for a 40-year-old, and even better for a 26-year-old.
A number of friends, especially those my own age who are similarly working to find themselves, have told me that discussing the process I took to reach this decision has caused them to reevaluate their own career decisions, or at least how they choose to live their lives on a day to day basis, which can be good or bad, depending on what they choose to do about it. I’m not trying to make anyone do anything, but it has been validating to learn that my journey is in any way inspiring.
So how did I come to make this decision?
I’ve been writing and rewriting this paragraph, trying to go back to the beginning, only to realize that it’s bullshit. I’m trying to tell a story full of details meant to please, meant to alleviate the worry people have in me making this decision, and that’s not the truth. The truth is, I’m not concerned with concern. The only thing on my mind is living a life that honors my values, that speaks to the truth that sits inside of me, and doing so in alliance with my future husband.
The truth is, for too long I’ve acted in accordance with what I perceived others’ expectations to be, so detached from my own desires that this template was the only one I could follow. So the reason my decision may seem sudden is because it is. I’ve been on the precipice for years, entirely too frightened of failure and judgment to take a risk, scared of what might happen if I become vulnerable, as any creative pursuit demands. It’s only recently that I’ve felt enough clarity to see that the life I was leading was out of line with who I am.
The part that gets my friends thinking is this exact approach. All of us have a limited time on this planet, and it’s just not worth it to spend that life living it for anyone but ourselves.
Make no mistake, the route I’m taking is not a prescription. For some, the ultimate realization of the self is in creating and supporting a family. For some, consistently making enough money to guarantee that they will never again be without a meal is the ultimate in living. There’s a trope in the media that ditching a corporate job to pursue a creative path is the ultimate in living, but this simply isn’t true. It just happens to be the case for me at this point in my life.
You don’t need to know the particular values I live by to understand my decision to honor them, only that a life where said values are prioritized leads to fulfillment, even as those values shift over time.
If you know me, you know I love writing, or any kind of storytelling. I know I’m no Steinbeck, Bradbury, Garcia Marquez, or Stephenson (side note: why are all my favorite authors men?), but I am a Wunderman, and I need to find out what I can show for it.
I also love taking photos of animals, which no one knows. I want to explore this too.
I don’t know where this path will lead me. I could end up back at a desk, on the New York Times Bestseller List, or somewhere I would never conceive of right now. What I do know is that I’m done living my life in the shadows. I’m ready to take a risk.