Only Know You Love Her When You Let Her Go
41 Days 'Til 4 Years Old

Underemployed and LOVING IT

So I quit my job.

I mean, I quit A job. I always have more than just one, technically. But it was the Big Job, the Main Job, the one I was traveling all the time for and spending most of my waking hours on and most of my sleeping hours quietly having panic attacks over. 

At some point it dawned on me: The worst thing in the world would not be losing this job. The worst thing in the world would be continuing to do this job.  

And it wasn't really the job's fault. I was not cut out for it, for what it ended up being (which to be fair, was different than what I thought it would be when I accepted it), for the demands of a small start-up that did not operate on a 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule and needed me online and working nights and weekends and lots (and LOTS) of travel. And other issues were entirely of my own making: I never said no, I would never admit I was in over my head, and I destroyed my own carefully cultivated work-from-home-and-life balance my own damn self. I felt guilty about leaving meetings to go pick up my kids, even though I'm pretty sure nobody else cared that I had to leave meetings to go pick up my kids. I was always in a bad mood, I was always behind, and then a child would walk into my office asking for a snack and I'd immediately be like GET OUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTT WHHHHYYYY DO YOU NEEEEEEDDDD THINGGGGSSSSS ALLLLLL THE TIMMMMME. 

"Mom, are you still angry at me?" Ike asked me one afternoon, in front of his teacher, when I picked him up from school. 

Ooofff. Not a sign of a successful morning routine, right there. 

I tried making it work anyway, thought about maybe cutting back my hours, moving to a different position within the company at a lower hourly rate, sticking with things as-is until I could line something else up, all the typical freelance/consultant stuff. 

Then one morning Jason watched me repeatedly try and fail to type in my laptop password because my hands were shaking so violently from anxiety. He said, "This job is not good for you and I don't think you should continue doing it."

(That's around the time I became convinced we had bedbugs because I'd wake up covered in a stress rash. I was also starting to lose weight that I was 100% not trying to lose.) 

So eventually, I just resigned. It was a bummer and a huge relief. I feel much, much better now, even though usually the sudden loss of a chunk of income like that would freak me the hell out. 

I considered taking a full-time office position at first, then decided to stay independent. The ebb and flow of contract work can be crazy-making in and of itself, but the freedom and flexibility I have just works so well for our family, with all the different school schedules and snow/sick days and weeks like this one, where all three children had dentist appointments on three different days. 

I lined up some small copywriting projects and should hear back on a bigger one soon. Networking my ass off. And of course less corporate work means more time for fun work like blogging and lots of extra Advice Smackdowns. And I'm getting so much laundry done!!

(BUT ALSO HEY YOU NEED ANYTHING WRITTEN/EDITED/MARKETED/STRATEGERIZED I CAN DO ALL THAT SHIT FOR YOU EMAIL ME BITCHES.) 

(Additionally it'd be great if someone would buy the stupid tire already.)

So that's what's been going on. See? I told you it wasn't anything high drama like a pregnancy or divorce or finally figuring out Pinterest. Just boring job stuffs.

But I feel good. Better. Saner and healthier and a lot less rashy. How are you? Any fun plans for the weekend? Have you watched that new Star Wars trailer yet? Did you scream and cry and involuntarily throw your phone across the room when you got to the end because you just had all of the feelings all at once? And then did you watch it over and over again before ordering your husband to go get the kids from school early because watching this trailer is obviously a million times more important? 

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Nah, me neither. 

(SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

Comments

Anna

First of all, that picture is the best!

And secondly, good for you! It's just not worth it in the end, and I'm sure you'll have plenty of work coming your way. Here's to less rashiness in the future!

Hillary

Good for you!

Erin

Amy, I just want to say well done. I walked away from a job I loved two years ago because stress was eating me alive from the inside out, and I have never regretted that decision. (I also wrote about it, but my post was a little angrier than yours, so well done for keeping your temper!) Brave move. And thank you so much for discussing it publicly.

Leanne

i'm underemployed too!!!! I quit my big fancy job about 5 months ago. And money's kinda tight for our little family but I am SO. MUCH. HAPPIER. which means my family is so much happier.

Shannon

Hooray! A very brave thing to do - choosing your health and the health of your family over the stress. Plus more Amalah! It's really a win-win for us all.

Cathy

Good for you! I had a full-body rash a few years ago that wouldn't go away, and I ended up getting three skin biopsies and a (false, thank god) leukemia diagnosis. The rash came and went for years. Then I got pregnant, had a baby, went back to work, and a few months later, said, "Fuck this," and quit. Haven't had a rash since. Turns out that low-level anxiety about the loss of 60% of our household income (and, you know, my career trajectory) is more manageable than the stress from my job. All this to say - I totally understand that feeling of disappointment and relief that comes from quitting a job that you wanted to make work. A year out, I'm the happiest I've ever been. Hope it goes that way for you, too. :)

Lee

Good on ya!
I've been underemployed for almost 15 years. My kids are older (high school and almost middle school) and I was recently offered a permanent part time job. 20 hours a week. Work from home, make my own hours, steady pay (I have benefits through my husband), ooooh the force was strong with this one (see what I did there?). Still I balked. There are some weeks because of sick days, appointments etc, I don't HAVE 20 hours at my desk. What about summer? What about the days I just want to run away with them and make memories? Ultimately, the client decided they didn't have enough work for 20 hours a week. WHEW! Dodged THAT bullet and came away with additonal (albeit sporadic) work. No regrets.

Vicki

Congratulations and welcome back!

Mandy

I want to quit my job. But I make over 50 percent of our income and carry the insurance. Plus even with two incomes (barely 50K) it is hard to pay the basics. Any body want to hire a graphic designer based in West Texas with lots of publication experience?

Missie

In 2010, the morning after my 40th birthday, I quit my job of ten years. I was not intending to, but after the fiftyfrillionth episode of what was basically emotional abuse by my employer, my husband looked at my shaking, crying self and said, "Quit. Now. You're done." Keep in mind, I was the only income at that time. We had debt out the wazoo and zippo savings. In the 2010 job market. He was never more my hero than he was in that moment, let me tell you.

I quit, we struggled, but we survived. Best.Decision.Ever.

Cheryl

Good for you for making that really difficult decision!! I quit my job almost three years ago. These have been the absolute best almost three years of my life. I do not wake up at nite stressing about work. I do not have unmanageable headaches. I do not have rashes or shakes anymore. The hardest thing I had to do was kick the bite-size KitKat candy addiction I seem to have developed - found three bags of them in my desk when I left work. I drive by the place I worked on a very regular basis now, and I just smile. I still cannot believe, to this day, what a wonderful choice it was to leave that place. It was such a hard decision to make, and I had the full support of my husband. Yep - life is good!!

Lar

Amy, thank you for sharing this! I have been struggling similarly for the past few years. I have a toddler and a baby on the way and I have recently been feeling like I am half-assed at everything - half-assed mom, half-assed employee, half-assed wife, etc. I stay at my job because of the flexibility and extra income. But I usually just end up resenting the time I have to spend away from my real priorities to do something that I just don't have it in my heart to do anymore. My husband also recognized how unhappy work was making me and realized that in order to be the mom I wanted to be (and my kids need me to be), I needed to quit. We are meeting with a financial planner next week to make it all happen. I am scared to death to be officially out of the work force and what that means for my future... but excited at the same time to finally be able to properly focus on my family. My God, what will I do with all that free time?! (J/K... there's never enough)

Kathleen

That last line of the trailer! I actually fan-squealed in public.

Sue W.

The Force IS with you!

Suzanne

That picture is fantastic.

Psst, my dad came to school when I was in 5th grade and my sister in 1st, told them we had a dentist appointment, and took us to lunch at Nathans, then to see Star Wars the second day it was in theatres. The place was nearly empty. I remember that afternoon vividly.

Sometimes, it is far more important to do little things like this.

Oh, and Jason was right and I'm glad you quit. :)

Shelbey

That trailer! I really did not expect to be so completely thrilled after watching it. It's Han! And Chewy! TOGETHER!!!! And OLD!!! Also, I'm super pumped about more Smackdowns! Yay, make my job go by faster!!

Michelle B

1. I did the same thing 3 years ago. I'm now underemployed and not stressed out all the time. Best decision ever.
2. Jason is a good guy.
3. Noah's face!!

Christy

That half grown man child (Noah?!?!) looks especially thrilled about that trailer! And also, yay for knowing when to quit! I have a rash currently but my stress isn't job related and I can't quit the rest of my life...so Benadryl and Aveeno anti itch cream are my 2 bffs right now. I'm trying to remember to woooooh saaaaah. :)

Angela

This is probably going to sound crazy, but I actually have some content strategy / personas / key messaging, style guidelines blah blah blah work that I need a resource for and I'm just dying over it because I'm supposed to start the strategy phase on this project in 2 weeks and all my resources are totally booked and I'm supposed to post the job and I have been procrastinating because it is just all.too.much for me to handle. So this is weird that I'm reading your post right now and maybe would be weird to tell my co-workers that i've read this blog called Amalah for years because she has a son like my son and she seems great, but I don't actually know her, but lets hire her? Totally strange, but if you can actually see my email address on your side of this post, maybe email me?

SarahB

Noah's expression is just fantastic.

And congratulations. Start-up work is... well, I worked at a newly opening non-profit for awhile, and it burned me out fast, and I didn't even have kids.

Corey Feldman

I'm glad you were able to make a change that works for you and your family. Balance can be hard to find. I recently started new full time job which means I'm not doing a whole lot with my publishing company right now, but I will keep you in mind for copyedit projects if they come up...

EmilyW

...I totally need things written and marketed. (I am legit! I swear!) Can I email you? Smoke signals? Pigeons? I will try very, very hard not to be too weird and squee if I get to actually talk to you.

Melanie

YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!

I did the same thing; I was working (part-time) as a medical doctor, and it was driving me and my family insane.

So I just quit.

and life is much much happier.
My children are happier, my husband is happier, I am happier.

It was worth it. Money isn't everything!

bless you

Em

Good for you! Definitely sounds like the right decision.

Allison

Good for you! Looking forward to more of your "fun" work, which all of us get to enjoy!!

Mel

Congrats! Life is too short to live like that.

Cait

*insert crazy fangirl screaming and clapping*

no I didn't watch the trailer like that either :)

Arnebya

That picture. Man. And yeah, I'm there with my job -- itchy and dreading it and snappy at the kids, but unable to quit because mortgage and shoes. I'm glad you're able to do what's best though. Stress zits are a bitch to get rid of.

Brita

I just wanted to do fist pumps and drink champagne toasts to this post. You are my she-ro of the day (because: picture = amazing and all is right with the world). I had to make some significant work choices this winter. My work stress was compromising my health so much that it was putting my pregnancy at risk. Come August, l'll have to make some more hard choices. I delivered a huge 9 lb baby because l did the hard thing. Your post rang strong with me. Thank you for the heads up on the preview! Squeeee!

But I Do Have a Law Degree

I feel like I was heaving a big sigh with you as I read this. Good for you! No paycheck is worth stress like that.

Miriam

Went to buy the tire they be 1378 for sale in DC.
I'll keep digging

Tammy

Good for you! I once moved cities because I knew it was the only way I'd quit a job that was slowly destroying me. I'd feel nauseous every morning before work, had a stress rash, developed an eye twitch, and came home every day feeling like a worse human being. It was absolutely best for us.

G

Can I just say . . . it makes me pretty sad that you had to quit your job to be sane . . . and all of these comments say the same job. "Quit my job and living financially insecure was easier on my sanity than working a full time job with a family!"

THIS IS SO WRONG. I have a job and I am you - literally working myself sick (sadly, $tudent loan$ plus extremely high health costs plus yadda yadda - we live close to the financial bone even as two full time professionals, and yes, I've done the math to subtract the daycare costs and we'd still be too close to the poverty line on one income).

Anyway, I just hate that the system in America is set up so you either work eleventy billion hours and are on-call and must be ready to travel and drop everything . . . or you have a less-stress job that NO WAY could cover the cost of daycare, making you net a negative . . . or you don't work, or cobble together bits and pieces. We intelligent mothers are such a wealth of untapped resources and are being driven from the workforce in droves. Ugh. To each his own, I have no probs w/stay at home moms - my problem is with a system that is literally killing full time moms with the stress. giving us rashes and heart palpitations! I mean really?? Is this REALLY NECESSARY.

G

I really wish I could go back and edit that comment a bit. I mean "full time job outside the home moms", of course. Lots of typos. ugh. Sorry. Promise I'm not as dumb as that reads.

Margie

OMG NOAH IS SO HAPPY! I'm pretty sure that's the same expression I had watching the trailer.

Jennifer R

I watched the trailer like Ike! Our house is so immersed in Star Wars right now it's ridiculous. Do the boys watch SW Rebels? That trailer came out today too, and there are Santa bearded clone troopers who have joined the rebels- what?!

Good call on leaving the job before it killed you. I stayed at a job that was hurting my health for 7 yrs before I got the nerve to go. My body was so happy it got pregnant a month after I left, after two years of trying with no luck.

Jessica

I just wish.So wish. I am the primary breadwinner for our family but my job is also destroying my soul and my fabulous good looks - actually I look like the undead if the undead were say 50 pounds overweight. And I see no way out. So to read your way out makes me hopeful. Which is something I haven't felt in a long long time.

Credaholic

All I read was "more blogging."

Yay!!!

Laura

So, the right thing to say is, "Good for you for doing what you know is best for you and your family." But all I can think is, "She came back to us!!!! More blogging!!! Yay!!!!"

Kris

G - stay at home Mom (I started working very part time 3 yrs ago after being home for 10 years) here - I agree with your sentiments! I work at a preschool so my hours work with my kids school schedule. Honestly, it's the only reason I am back working and I'm very grateful for a boss who understands when you have to call out for a sick kid an hour before you need to be at work.

Good luck Amy!

Holly W.

I am proud of you. As a working (out of the home) mom, I have a tendency to hold on to ALL THE THINGS for...no particular reason. To prove that I can do it all, I guess. And you have just shown me that I CAN do it all, by sometimes LETTING GO. Bravo to you. Glad your rash is fading. Also, glad the tire made an appearance in this post - priorities.

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