Five years ago today (it was also a Friday), I walked away from a well-paying job that was making me sick. At the time, I wasn’t certain I’d never go back, I only knew that I needed to leave. For more than three years previous, I’d been tremendously unhappy, but never thought I could quit. I made a very good salary, had excellent benefits, and marked time toward a retirement and a pension. But I was so miserable that it was affecting my health, and a month after both my husband and my longtime friend advised me to leave, I did. Then my doctor advised me to stay away until my health issues were under control and I figured out what to do next.
My blood pressure was sky-high. I was overweight. And the following month I developed herniated discs in my back that I’m convinced were stress related. I took painkillers, blood pressure pills, anxiety medication. I was despondent over the fact that my professional career might be finished, even though it was a career I never intended to have.
A reader since the age of four, I devoured books. Majored in English in college and soaked up novels by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Lawrence, and Joyce. My parents encouraged me, even giving me a Creative Writing course at Brown University one summer. But when my father died unexpectedly while I was a junior in college (and abroad), everything changed. There was no more dreamy talk about being a writer. I got a job in a bank after college (so ill-suited to me!) and worked in a number of banks before landing a job as a Securities Regulator with a state agency. (Even I have to laugh at that – I knew nothing about securities regulation, but worked hard and learned what I needed to know). That led to a job as a Medicaid Fraud Investigator with the Attorney General’s office, and the peak of my professional accomplishment, an elected position on the Board of Regents for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. I did the job well, even if I wasn’t passionate about it.
Then, through a series of events, I was ostracized by the men I worked with. I dreaded going into the office, but stuck it out for more than three years before finally saying ‘Enough.’ And five years later, I have absolutely no regrets. I began writing novels, and have published six of them. The positive feedback I receive for my writing means everything to me, really, because I am doing what I love.
You can change your course as well. It’s a lot easier to do if you have no debt, so if you’re inclined to switch paths, get yourself out of debt NOW. Believe me, you can live on less and be ten times happier. I do and I am.