In case you didn’t hear, I quit my job a week ago. I felt confident doing that, because I had a plan. I saved money. I had a project to work on. I bought a new journal/calendar/organizer thingy, and wrote down an hour-by-hour schedule of how my days were going to be filled writing a new novel.
Lot of good that did me.
I woke up on Monday at 6:00 am. I had an hour and a half to do nothing but write before my husband got up… a dream! But then, when I sat down, I was completely paralyzed. I felt exhausted. Totally drained. I couldn’t write. But don’t worry, dear reader, I found ways to fill that time! For example, I stared at my computer screen. I checked social media multiple times (you never know if you’ll get another “like,” after all). And most importantly, I chased my two cats around our living room. Eventually, my husband came downstairs and I realized I hadn’t at all accomplished my goal of writing 1k words of a new chapter.
Brilliant, excellent, strong start.
I quit my job so I could start writing. So… why wasn’t I doing that?
I will let you know that I didn’t write a single thing on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I wasn’t going to just hit the ground running, like I’d mapped out. I was reeling. I left the routine I’d been used to for the past 10 years: wake up, write, go to work, come home, repeat. Those instincts, and the rhythm my body had gotten into, were and still are present. I’m going to be making new habits, and new structure, and be my own boss, but not before I detox those old habits out of myself.
So I decided to take a little break. Well, I didn’t decide — I told my husband I’d fucked everything up, and he told me to ease up and chill out. Yes, I’d failed to accomplish all of the things I’d planned on. My hour-by-hour schedule was certainly not being followed, and no words were being written by moi. But it’s only been a week. This shit takes time… annoyingly.
It’s just that — not to pat myself on the back here too much — when I set goals, I hit ‘em. It’s how I wrote two books in a year, y’all. That isn’t easy to do! So this whole being OK with not having everything figured out thing is not a fun place or mindset for me to be in. Like, you know things are bad when you’re Googling “quotes about failure to feel better about yourself” (btw, new favorite one is “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failing is another steppingstone to greatness.” That comes from Oprah, like all good things).
So, yeah, I don’t have a storybook life right now. This past week was really hard. I’m not used to just doing nothing. But I forced myself to acknowledge that this is a new life, and adjusting to that will take time. I’ve caught up on Younger. I finished reading Emergency Contact. I cried a few times because I felt badly about not writing and wondered if I’m truly cut out for this unemployed thing.
One piece of good news is that today is the first day I actually woke up and felt excited to write.
I got in 1k words before lunch. Maybe I’ll write another 1k (hey, maybe another 2k if I’m on a roll!) this afternoon. But if I don’t, THAT IS OK.
I’ll find a new routine that works for me, and when I do I’ll publish that here, in case it inspires anyone else.
This is a new beginning. And I guess you’ve gotta fail before you succeed (or something like that, I hope). And I’m going to just start embracing each failure as a hint at what will and won’t work for me.
But if anyone has any tips… I need them and I’ll take them!
I quit my job at Netflix. Not because it was awful (it wasn’t), or I hated the people (I love my team), or I had another job lined up (definitely don’t). So… **adjusts reading glasses **… why did I quit, then?
For the last year and a half I’ve had an absolutely ridiculous dream job at Netflix. My job for the longest time was to build and oversee the social channels for @NetflixFilm. I got to travel to film festivals and watch movies… FOR MY JOB. I created really fun things, like this and this. I met filmmakers who’ve won actual awards, and made videos with actors I have no business being in a room with. I worked at Netflix — the thing everyone loves to watch — had coworkers who are the smartest people I’ve met in my life, and was making more money than I’ve ever made.
Which is why it’s maybe the worst feeling in the world to wake up and know you have an incredible job, but also know you’re not meant to be doing it. How to explain this feeling? It’s a tough one. Especially because it’s less of a feeling and more of an inner voice (you know, the deep down authentic version of yourself who just tells it like it is, even if you don’t want to hear it).
And the thing that became clear was this: the problem wasn’t my job — obviously, my job was killer — it was me. I was the problem. Because I wasn’t listening to myself — to that inner voice. I didn’t want to hear my own thoughts, because they were scaring me; leave your job, you should be writing, you aren’t supposed to be here. Those were the last things in the world I wanted to hear. What I wanted was to thrive at Netflix. To build a life for myself there. And I really did try — so hard — but this stupid fucking voice kept popping up to remind me, you aren’t supposed to be here, this isn’t your purpose. I can’t tell you how much I wanted those thoughts to disappear. And if I’m being honest, I’ve had this inner voice for the last few years, I just always chose to ignore it.
Because the easier thing was to continue the course, ride it out, and just push those feelings down. I was being ridiculous. I needed to get over it. Only, I couldn’t. I tried therapy, acupuncture, I bought many bath pillows, y’all… Those offered some temporary relief. But then I’d spend the week at work, and I just kept feeling more and more miserable, but didn’t know how to express those feelings. After all, I had a great job, made great money, and loved my coworkers — what’s the problem here? I was constantly complaining, and feeling exhausted, and I stopped liking who I was.
Which is when I realized that the only way things would change is if I made a choice: I could choose to listen to my inner voice, or keep complaining until I turned into a sad, whiny prune (probably, very likely). My inner voice was telling me to write. To do the thing I’ve always wanted to do — spend a year just pursuing writing and see where it would lead me. This is one of those dreams I’ve had and put on a shelf next to other nice things I’d like to happen, like winning the lottery or moving to an island inhabited solely by cats. Especially because to take a year off to focus on writing sounds irresponsible and indulgent, and like the kind of thing people might judge me for (and I do care deeply about what other people think, I’m working on that). But I started saving money, and telling people I was thinking about making this leap, and the more I saved and was vulnerable, the more of a reality it actually felt like.
So on my birthday this year, I put in my notice at Netflix. I made the choice to quit my job. I’m going to be creative and curious and see where it leads me… ahhhhhhhh.
If you couldn’t tell by that written scream, I’m terrified about what comes next. As of today, I’m officially unemployed. Here’s everything that is currently scaring the shit out of me:
- My husband and I have a mortgage, and his jobs in TV are never a sure thing. So that’s… fun!
- I’ve saved up enough money to take a year off… IF I can stick to the very tight, very lean budget I’ve set for myself.
- I may not get paid at all this year. I might fail. I might not sell anything. That’s a reality.
- I feel guilty. I don’t completely know why. It feels indulgent to pursue my passion.
- And even though I’ve published two books (hey, help an unemployed girl out and buy them here and here), I don’t know that I fully deserve this. Have I earned the right to try and do this full-time? Maybe not!
So, I will be writing like it’s a job I’m getting paid for (though, I’m definitely not at this time), and feeling supremely uncomfortable about it. I’ll be working through ideas for books, TV scripts, features, plays… whatever sparks joy (thank you Netflix and Marie Kondo for teaching us this concept). In a year’s time I may have very little to show for myself, and people might think this is crazy stupid of me to do. I truly can’t predict the future, and I’m not a person who does well with the unknown! What I do know is that I’m choosing to try and change my life. That’s my choice. I hope you can support it. It took me a long time to get to this place.
Maybe this is all a big mistake. Or maybe it’s not.
I do know that I’d never want to look back at my life and think about how I always wanted to take a year off to write, but didn’t.
So I’m hurling myself into the great unknown.
Hoping I emerge with an inner voice that’s in a happier, more fulfilled place.
Thank you for reading this. Is there anything you’re curious about knowing, or want to hear more about? I’m happy to talk about how I made this happen through extreme saving (been doing my own nails since 2017, folks), or anything else! Let me know!