So, I've been out of work and playing SAHM all summer. It is now fall (officially) and while I've enjoyed my little experiment I've decided it's time to return to the working world. I think, however, I'm going to do it a little different this time.
When Hayden was born, I decided I was going to be a WAHM. This was 2004 and people did NOT work from home. It was unique and novel and I met an incredible amount of resistance. No one thought I could do it. They laughed and shook their heads. I was, however, determined.
And so I started a consulting company and picked up little jobs here and there. I wasn't rich - I wasn't particularly successful - but I made money, had steady work and was able to be home with my little guy. I was pretty happy. We continued down this path for a few years. I'd get steady clients - work through projects - pick up other clients - and life went on. We moved to Colorado Springs and I started working as a permanent p/t employee for a recruiting firm and picked up side jobs under my consulting firm as well.
However, I started to want more. I watched everyone around me making more money, having more "things" and I really felt a pull to be back on that path. I'd been following a company for almost a year - I liked what they represented and thought it would be a great place to work. One day, after going back and forth with the HR rep - I got an email - there was an opening! Was I interested? It was full time, paid a real salary, and had all sorts of goodies like health insurance, 401k and - did I hear her correctly - unlimited vacation.
YES!!! I was very interested!
I went through round after round of interviews until I finally spoke with the owner. She liked me - I liked her - and the rest is history. I started managing the new CRM system in March 2007. I loved this job. I felt like I had finally arrived. I had struggled and worked and waited for this moment - and now it was all mine. The job was fully virtual - the work was great - my co-workers were amazing - and I was blown away by the woman who ran the entire show. I was in awe and so grateful for the chance to be part of this thing bigger than myself.
And it was great. It really was. For almost 5 years I lived and loved and worked this job. I found joy in my day to day. I truly felt that this company - and role - completed me. I had always been a corporate failure - the 9 to 5 was never my speed - and this job just fit. I would joke that one day I would retire from this company a very old, very happy lady.
Then - it all started to go wrong. Suddenly, my days were long, tiresome and I began to feel unsatisfied. The joy I once had at a job well done was slipping away. The flexibility I cherished was disappearing too. I found myself working all the time - day and night. I would get up, immediately check my email, respond to urgent requests and shuffle my kids out the door as quickly as possible so I didn't miss a minute. It was then back to my computer where I would sit - unmoving - for hours on end. Emails started to get nasty. Words were exchanged. I began to cry at my desk on a daily basis. I yelled at my kids. I snapped at my husband. I bitched to my co-workers. I was frustrated - and scared - and just completely upside down.
What the hell happened to my life?
How did I go from being so unbelievably happy and satisfied in my job to feeling like a complete failure overrun with demands I could not meet - no matter how hard I tried? I began to get stomach pains. I couldn't sleep at night. My brain was in overdrive - my head constantly modifying spreadsheets, manipulating lists, trying to figure out how to fix something that I now know was way beyond repair.
I felt trapped. I'd been told, in so few words, that my time there was limited. This broke my heart. I had truly loved my work and my company. I cried and cried and finally pulled myself together and started to look for another job.
But my heart wasn't in it. I was just going through the motions - doing the interviews - making the small talk - but the whole time I was hurting and still trying to figure out WHAT I DID WRONG.
I was quickly offered another job. This one was also virtual and promised a working environment very similar to the one I was leaving behind. But I couldn't pull the trigger. I called a meeting with my boss. I asked for direction - wanting to know - clearly - what was happening with my current role. She told me she could not promise I would have a job come May - it was late April. That sealed the deal. I accepted the other offer, gave notice and made plans to put this entire experience behind me.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out. The job was not what I thought it was going to be. The work was not what they promised. And the environment was NOTHING like the one I left behind. Again - I felt trapped. Again -I was crying at my desk. Again -I wondered - what would become of my career?
And so here I am. A summer spent with my kids, a fall spent coming to terms with what my career means to me - and how much I am willing to sacrifice for "corporate" success.
I decided I can't do it again. At least - not now.
I'm going to go back to consulting. I still want to work from home - and have had quite a bit of interest in my background and experience - but nothing that has made my heart sing. I feel a bit beaten down, and a little afraid, but also ready to move forward into the unknown.
I can get my life back. I can determine how my day goes - what work I will take - and what work I will turn down.
Call me bitter. Call me jaded. Perhaps I am. I like to think through this whole thing I've grown up just a tad. I blindly believed if I put forth my best effort I would be successful. I believed that when presented with the truth - a fair and equitable judgment would be passed.
I was wrong.
But it's okay. Cause I learned something else. My anger, my frustration, my unease - all if it came down on my family. My kids would get yelled at for just being home. When my daughter woke up from her nap I wouldn't go get her - instead I would yell from my desk - often angry that my work was being interrupted. I didn't have time for them. And that was NOT okay.
I've learned we can live with less. I've learned that NOT having a cleaning lady isn't the greatest heartbreak of all time.
I've learned that snuggling with my daughter and hanging out playing Lego's with my son is more satisfying than any full time paycheck.
Most of all - I've learned that I am incredibly lucky to even have this choice. Not everyone can look at their lives and move against the grain. I feel blessed to have such a supportive husband who encourages me to follow my heart - even if it doesn't lead to the land of money. :-)
I'm incredibly grateful for these lessons. They were hard, broke me down and made me question everything I thought was safe and real and right in my world. I hope my journey continues - and my path leads to ownership, happiness and satisfaction in choices well made.