It’s a common refrain, or at least it has been to me over the past several years. “I was trapped in x job, miserable, hating life, but with no idea what to do or how to escape.” This was me, right up until my employer, in its benevolence, decided to show me the door on March 28, 2014. I had at that point been working as a commercial litigator in New York City for nearly 6 years, and had been in professional misery virtually the whole time. It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise when they finally invited me to vacate the premises, in my mind, I had been halfway out that door for years.
It’s a funny thing though, how you can pigeonhole yourself. I had been searching and applying for new jobs for nearly 3 years by the time the job I had abruptly came to an end. However, in that 3 years, I managed to land a grand total of one (1) interview, out of hundreds of positions applied for, despite being fairly well-qualified for all of them. At the time, I didn’t see any other path. I had spent years of my life and a small fortune to become a lawyer, I couldn’t just stop being a lawyer, could I? Every day when I woke up and had to face another day at the office, a little part of me was disappointed that I hadn’t simply died in my sleep. That’s totally normal, right? I had to keep working, you can’t just quit your high-paying job. I was settling in for the long haul, convinced I could somehow make it work. I was going to suck it up, buckle down, be a responsible adult. I even went so far as to put in an offer on a grossly expensive and exceedingly small NYC studio apartment (sorry, a “junior one-bedroom”). Luckily, when the hammer fell, I’d yet to actually sign anything, so I was able to dodge the bullet of incurring a massive mortgage just before finding myself sans income.
In any event, the choice of whether to keep on keeping on was ultimately taken away from me and I found myself suddenly unencumbered by employment, completely at loose ends as to what to do next. At first, I stuck to the script, dutifully searching job boards, sending out resumes, networking with legal contacts, ready to rejoin the fray if only someone would be willing to hire me. All the while, however, I remained afraid that I would end up right back where I started — miserable, trapped, and hopeless.
Slowly — so slowly I almost didn’t notice it happening — the idea of finally taking that trip around the world I’d always dreamed of began to consume my thoughts. My logical CorporateAmerica brain fought it back, of course. You have to get another job! People have jobs and live in apartments and pay their utility bills and go to work every day! People don’t lose their jobs and then just decide not to get new jobs! That’s madness!
But the other part of my brain — I guess the part that hadn’t allowed all feelings of hopefulness to be completely snuffed out by corporate drudgery — became increasingly insistent. You’re younger now than you will ever be again! You are debt free, child free, obligation free! This may be your only chance to have the experience of a lifetime! And you know what? It’s true. Ultimately I realized that this is it, this is my shot. And if I don’t take advantage of this unexpected opportunity, I will regret it for the rest of my life. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know for sure that there will never be a better time than now to strike out into the great unknown, have some adventures and start living again, rather than merely existing, toiling away for enough to pay the rent and keep the lights on.
So I’m going. I’m sure the worrying about my future will keep, so I am going to put it up on a shelf for the moment, stop worrying and learn to love the now.