2018 has already been A Year for me: to date, I’ve quit a job, gotten married, and launched a business— the mental, financial, and emotional peaks and valleys are giving me whiplash, and we’re only five months in.
Corporate Disappointment, With Bonus Health Issues
My decision to jump off the corporate track this year and go freelance was a long time coming. Years of feeling out of place and disillusioned with my professional life left me at a crossroads: I’d invested nearly 15 years, two out-of-state moves, a Master’s degree, and multiple licenses and certifications into a career path. While financially rewarding, the track I was on felt like a betrayal to my values system and a waste of my creative abilities. (Click here for help figuring out YOUR values system!)
My mental and physical health suffered also suffered as a result from my corporate job. I refer to 2017 as my Year from Hell. I was in and out of the doctor’s office frequently, dealing with high stress work, and the stress of planning a wedding.
As is the unfortunate reality in this country, being a frequent flyer in doctor’s offices hits you right in the bank account: I not only met my $2,000 deductible, but my out-of-pocket maximum amount on my health insurance plan as well, totaling well over $4,000 for the year. Effing yikes.
A New Course
I left my job at the end of January 2018. Between medical expenses and a wedding in March 2018 , my husband and I have tapped out in terms of discretionary spending for a good long while. Our wedding, while comparatively modest, *still* managed to cost more than what I earned annually in the first part of my career. (It hurts to even type that sentence.)
The cost is more a reflection of the obscene standards set forth by the wedding industrial complex than anything else. But thanks to saving diligently throughout our 15-month engagement, and with some monetary help from our families, we made it to the altar with zero wedding-related debt (insert ‘praise hands’ emoji here). Had I left my corporate job any earlier than I did, this simply would not have been possible.
What I Left Behind + What I’m Working Towards Now
When I left my job, I left behind a six figure income plus benefits, including the benefit of knowing when and exactly how much my next paycheck would be. Quitting a job to pursue freelance work in a field not exactly renowned for its financial rewards is, in a word, terrifying.
More on saving big money:
So why do it? Because what’s more terrifying to me is continuing along a career path that made me feel dead inside, like a sheep slowly being led to the pasture of broken dreams. Am I being melodramatic in this description? Absolutely. But I cannot overstate how strongly I believe now, after having gone through a physical and mental health crisis, that my job was literally making me sick, and that money is a tool and a resource, and not a means to an emotional end.
Taking a big professional leap meant redefining what “success” means to me. I’ve made the mistake of defining my worth by my title or how much money I was making (related: it’s funny how quickly our “needs” expand as we move up in rank or salary). Leaving a six figure salary and getting off the corporate ladder has made me re-evaluate what is important to me, and what I care to work towards with my life.
More on transitioning to freelance life:
Now, I’m defining success in terms of how I spend my time, and the impact my work is having on the world. If I can help someone become a better writer, or give them creative ideas that fuel their fire to keep going, or craft messaging that gives someone the confidence to tell the world, without apology, what they’re all about and why their cause is worthy, that is success to me, dollars be damned.
But don’t think for a second that this fierce, freelancing female isn’t out to get every dollar she’s worth.
This piece by Liz Feezor of