I had a plan for my life. Go to college, obtain my bachelor’s degree, get my Master’s degree, then get a job making $50,000 in something brand or marketing-related. I would then work my way up the corporate ladder, become an uber-successful sales professional who makes tons of money and retires by the age of 40 with accolades like, “Employee of the Year” and “Salesperson of the Year.”
I would sacrifice my personal life for 15 years of blood, sweat, tears, and sleepless nights for closing multi-million dollar deals, 4-star hotel stays, 5-star dinners, 4-star flight seats, a penthouse, $700 Christian Louboutins, $800 designer handbags, a hairstylist I pay an annual salary, and an expensive custom built walk-in closet of my dreams that resembles the closets of Kimora Lee Simmons and Cher Horowitz.
I would then pursue my passion of screenwriting with the relief of having paid my student loan debt. During early retirement, I would write TV shows and films in a 3-story cabin tucked away in the mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in between breaks of warm apple cider and Lifetime Movie Network films playing above the living room fireplace.
I obtained my Bachelor’s degree, my Master’s degree, and achieved a high-paying job from which I lived comfortably, paid extra student loan payments consistently, and quickly built my savings in two years.
But plans changed.
I dreaded waking up every morning for work to travel 4-6 hours a day. I had no time to attend happy hours and engage with people within my age range. I was extremely unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. I felt like something was missing, like my soul was dying a little bit day after day.
I stayed at my job longer than I wanted because I would rather generate a steady income than deal with job search anxiety, which I had not experienced in two years. It was so nice to not update my resume or write a cover letter.
I was 25. Enter quarter-life crisis. I felt like I had not achieved much nor assertively pursued my passions. Like I was too old and it was too late. I had not written creatively or danced in a while. I felt out of touch with myself.
For months I had this feeling I could not explain until I realized it was my soul saying, “I don’t want this anymore.”
Consequently, I gave my manager a two-week resignation notice without knowing what field I would transition into. For once, I had no plan.
What was my passion?
I wrote a long list of interests the week before my last day of work. I knew creative writing was still my passion. I loved creating worlds within stories. Exploring my imagination was exciting for me. I was the most peaceful and my truest self when I wrote.
Consequently, I researched events to attend like Women in Film panel discussions, film pitch competitions to network with other creatives and learn more about the film and television industry.
For the longest, I told myself, “Once I earn enough, then pursue it. I don’t have time to be a struggling poor screenwriter. Not with student loan debt. I’m not about that, “I share a one bedroom apartment with four roommates and slept on different friends’ couches until I got my big break” life.” That was not me.
I attended a listening party the day before my last day of work. The event was held in a newly renovated building transformed into an intimate concert space and art gallery with an interesting catalog of Malcolm X books, Alex Haley books, Webster’s dictionary, and Coding 101 books.
Although I was disinterested in the unknown wannabe trap artists that performed, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I enjoyed being around beautiful black creatives in their 20s and, admiring the eclectic fashion ranging from street to casual to afrocentric to 60s-inspired wardrobe. I enjoyed the smell of Rihanna’s Rogue perfume mixed with the smell of marijuana and alcohol. I loved connecting with artists who explain the purpose of their work and their long-term goal of sharing their art globally.
It was liberating to be in a creative environment. This was exactly what I needed. I stepped out of my corporate box into new territory. It was different but intrinsically freeing. I felt like my dream of becoming a successful writer was still possible.
I became more comfortable introducing myself by my name rather than my occupation. It was comforting and endearing to be seen for me.
If you are debating whether to leave a job, career or environment you hate, please know taking a risk is much more rewarding than remaining stagnant.
For the perfectionists, idealists and anxiety-filled folks out there, it may feel like, “What if I jump and fall to my death?”