2.07.2017

Hello from the Other Side...

Well kids, I survived. For those of you who have more important things to do than track my employment status, I quit my job last fall with zero plans for next steps. I had lots of adjectives thrown at me during my three-month funemployment journey: brave, risky, exciting, irresponsible. It was all of those things, but more than anything... IT WAS WORTH IT.

Comin' atcha, life. 
My generation gets a bad rap for being lazy, self-entitled brats. Perhaps that's true of the well-coiffed hippie I saw selling "magical rocks" outside a bookstore in Portland, but in general I'd like to raise a hand on behalf of Millennials and say that we're dedicated, loyal, hard-working folks who just want to find our place in the world. We quite frankly don't have time to be wastes of space since we're expected to have three years of experience the day after graduation just to be eligible for an entry-level position. This means once we get a job, we're pretty serious about keeping it. I mean, we all own rescue dogs and they need to eat.

Yes, we are busy sending Biden/Obama memes to the group text, watching viral videos of pandas playing in the snow, drooling over Chrissy Tiegen's latest Snapchat recipe and stalking an ex's new flame on Instagram. But do you know the main reason some of us run into poles with our heads glued to screens? Because we're trying to figure out how email works in the latest iOS update, proofing the 29th revision of that document that just won't die and responding to our boss' 2am texts. I watch Mad Men today and despite the alcoholism, mental instability and sexism, find myself thinking: "Wow! Those were the days!" If Don Draper went to Hawaii, he was untouchable: no Internet, no email, no cell phones. Meanwhile, during my get-over-your-breakup-vacation I found myself pacing across a pool deck in Santorini trying to find a Wifi signal.

This is a problem that plagues all of working America. The difference for Millennials is that 24/7 accessibility is the only norm we've ever known. It hit me as I sat fielding emails in the ER with an IV shoved into my arm at 6am on a Wednesday: perhaps this isn't a good norm to accept. Perhaps it's time to try something different.

"Quitting" has a bad connotation in most circumstances. For a long time I thought quitting was the equivalent of failure. But ultimately I realized that sometimes quitting is the bravest and best thing you can do. I'm not right about everything, but I was right about that. The three months I spent in limbo were some of the most important moments of my life. Not because I did anything revolutionary, but because I re-discovered how to place value in the things that make me happy.

Here I am being happy because Michelangelo posed for a photo with me.
I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of my personal experience and tell you about when I accidentally drowned my just-purchased MacBook and the emotional breakdown that followed, or about how many "thanks but no thanks" auto-response emails I got, or about the moments of fear and doubt when I wondered if I had made the right choice. No, I'm not going to tell you about all that. Because for every one of those moments, there were five better moments. Taking a deep breath on the side of a mountain in Colorado; looking at my phone and smiling because that dreamy southern guy wanted to take me out to dinner; posing next to an oversized tennis shoe; an Apple Genius telling me it "wasn't that bad" and resurrecting my Mac; getting the call that someone wanted to hire me. I became myself again, and it was great.

Who knew unconventional, oversized sculptures could bring so much joy?
Some people may live for work (and I like work a lot), but I live for those moments. And now, I get to do what I love at a place that understands how important those moments are, too. We get a lot of good, hard work done at my new company, but ultimately we are humans who have other people and other things to live for. Work/life balance -- it does exist, y'all!

I say all of this not to brag about how glorious my life is, but rather, as a means of encouragement for anyone who may have come to a similar crossroads. I've had almost a dozen friends make a transition in the past six months: job changes, cross-country moves, BABIES and other big-scary-life-decision-things. And I'm happy to report: 100% of my risk-taker friends have had a 100% success rate of finding fulfillment by chasing what makes them happy. Pretty good odds, eh?

So if you're reading this grappling with a life dilemma -- where to move, which career path to follow, if you should buy that puppy (NO BRAINER) -- then please heed this rule-following, type-A, control freak's advice:

Take the risk.

Even if it doesn't end up exactly how you envisioned (I, for example, am not writing sitcom scripts from my beachside bungalow in L.A. right now) ... it will be one heck of an adventure getting to whatever is next for you. Best of all, you'll never have to look back and wonder "what if." And let me tell you -- that is one heck of a feeling.