Before I owned Berry Patch Creative + Studio, I worked at a small wholesale decor company. When I took the job as a Creative Coordinator & Digital Manager, I had dreams of leading artistic projects, creating a vision for the brand, and leading the brand voice. I ended up doing all these things, but eventually my job spiraled into hours upon hours, months upon months, of e-commerce statistics and product spreadsheets. Before I knew it, I wasn’t doing the job I was hired for. The Sunday night blues settled in. I had a harder time than ever going to bed at a decent hour so I could wake up and get to work at 6 AM. I knew something had to change.
Below are the reasons I knew I had to leave.
- I had the hardest time focusing.
I’ve never had focus issues in my life. Typically I get so into my work that I lose all sense of time. I started daydreaming instead of working. I found that I loathed the nature of the work so much that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. E-commerce was just not for me, and on the day I put in my 3-week notice, I told my boss, “I miss writing.”
I felt like I had departed too much from what I loved to do: write. All I was writing were product descriptions for “Live Laugh Love” signs. If I had to write one more description about a sign that said “Grateful Thankful Blessed” I felt like I would throw myself off the roof. So instead, I surfed articles online. I went on pinterest. I felt awful about it. I knew it wasn’t fair of me to be procrastinating so much on my employer’s dime. The guilt of not being able to focus was the last straw, and what gave me the guts to quit.
2. I lost sleep and started to feel tired and old.
When I took the job, I had to be at work at 6 AM. I woke up at 5:20, but I had coworkers who woke up at 4 AM. Everyone talked about how much sleep they lost. The average was four to five hours. If you were lucky, you got a luxurious six. Throughout these months that I worked at this job, I NEVER went to bed at the same time as my husband. When I wanted to hang out with him a little bit in the evenings, I ended up going to bed at 11 or so (gasp) and then I lost sleep.
I started looking old. I could see the lines appear on my forehead and by my eyes. I started becoming obsessed with sleep. It felt like a rare commodity. I eventually asked my employer to allow me to arrive to work around 7:00, but even then, that one hour still wasn’t enough for this night owl. It wasn’t working. I had no time for music, no time to write, I felt like a slave to my schedule. When I woke up in the morning, I would have a flash of anxiety: “I’m late!” or “I gotta go to work and deal with whatever reason my boss is going to me mad at me today!”
I knew that waking up with a flash of anxiety wasn’t great for my health. I knew I had to quit.
3. I felt envious of women my age who were making it as entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Or women at any age for that matter. I started feeling jealous of baby boomers who were enjoying their retirement business. I envied women who had taken control of their own schedules and lives. I imagined that these women called their own shots, woke up when they needed to, chose their own projects and clients, and weren’t living as slaves to their paychecks.
I even spent a while resenting my fat paycheck because it was the only reason I was still running on the treadmill. I thought to myself, “If only I didn’t make this much money, I would feel so much more freedom to quit and to do what I loved.”
4. I didn’t feel like myself at work.
I’m someone who really needs to believe in the bottom line of what I’m doing. I have to feel like I’m making the world a better place. Or helping others succeed. When I took the decor job, I was excited to help people decorate their houses. I felt that I could get something out of helping people make their homes beautiful. But in the end, the decor style didn’t fit me. I’m a bohemian kind of girl that takes beautiful antiques and displays them in my home. But I really couldn’t feel great about pedaling cheap made-in-China products with patinas that came off in your hands. It didn’t feel characteristic of myself.
Furthermore, I had worked in a large creative agency for Abbott Nutrition before that, and my coworkers loved having fun. We cracked jokes, went bowling and drinking together, and it felt like a real community. I didn’t feel like I belonged in my new community. I felt like I had to hide my effervescent, bubbly personality. My jokes were not welcome. It made me feel bland.
5. Leaving work felt like getting off death row.
Do you remember how you felt walking outside after taking the SAT? Or a four-hour test in college? That’s how it felt leaving work everyday. I spent 10 hours in a small, windowless office, jockeying excel sheets and analyzing data. Leaving work felt like the part in The Wizard Of Oz when Dorothy sees color for the first time. It made me drink in the sunlight, play music extra loud in the car, and feel restless and nature-deprived. I longed for a more fluent, natural life where I could see the sun change throughout the day. I longed for a life where I could grab lunch wherever I wanted, with whoever I wanted.
Five years ago – before I took the decor job, before I figured out what I didn’t want by doing what I didn’t want – I said to my husband, “Someday I’m going to be a freelance writer and teach music.”
It took me all this time to figure it out, but now I know what I want, and I know what I don’t want.