Ever since I quit my job, it has been haunting my dreams. At least a few times a week, I have vivid and intense recurring stress dreams about returning to work there after an extended absence. I’ll start showing up for work and jump right back into things, and then something will happen—it’s never clear what—and suddenly I am trying to leave again, but it turns hostile and bizarre right around that point. Last night it included me having a total nervous breakdown triggered by my former boss’s belittling chuckle
I’m writing about it here today because I would love to get a handle on these dreams. I’m tired enough courtesy of our 3 year old who doesn’t appreciate sleep the way she should, and I don’t need to be waking up in a cold sweat with a racing heart thinking about work that is not mine anymore.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the root of these dreams is the unknown. I know that my financial cushion is running out faster than I could have imagined, and I have no real plan for what’s next. The fear I experience in these dreams is not literally about ending up working there again, but it is about not knowing what the future of my career will look like.
When I chat with people about the future, I’m quick to answer that I’d like to get into copywriting because it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing and I’m reasonably good at it. The catch is that being a freelance copywriter means leaving behind the corporate structure with steady paychecks, benefits and retirement. I don’t know how on earth I could make that work. My salary has always been larger than Catch’s, and we rely on that. Giving it up is terrifying.
Much as I love the quips from people in my life that I should pursue photography as a career, it’s just not reasonable. As a hobby, yes. I’m not going to stop taking pictures. I just don’t see myself being able to make a career of it. Not in Los Angeles. The market here for photographers is over saturated as it is, and most of them are immensely talented and educated in their craft on a level that I’m just not interested in pursuing. I am already paying through the nose for a communications degree, and I feel it will serve me well.
Giving up my freedom is equally terrifying. I am LOVING this time away from the corporate world. I feel like I’m finding myself right now. I am thoroughly enjoying my (straight A) student status. I love being able to be present when my daughter needs me. I love that we have the flexibility of only one work schedule to accommodate—and since that schedule is a teacher’s schedule, it gives us so many opportunities to take off when we want/need to. Although it is fairly intense, my schoolwork is completely portable, so as long as I have an internet connection I can work from anywhere. I love this life.
We are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of the day I quit. ONE YEAR. It has literally flown by. I’d like to have steady work lined up by the time Charlotte starts her final year of preschool in September, but I’m so afraid of that change. I need to start slowly working to accept the reality that I can’t live in this beautiful bubble forever.
I quit my job with the absolute confidence that everything was going to be okay and that this was going to be an important turning point in my life. I think these dreams have been shaking that confidence a bit, and I can’t let them. It’s too important for me to keep my head in the game. I don’t know exactly what Career 2.0 is going to look like, but I know I can’t let the residual yuck from Career 1.0 call the shots.