I came back from the Netherlands only to walk into work and realize my heart was somewhere else. My job, which had been a lifeline over the last three years, suddenly felt like an anchor and the only thing attaching me to this weird version of life that had bubbled up from a crisis.
So this week, I quit my dream job to travel. Farther.
I have fashion in my blood. My grandparents owned a clothing store for 40 years, Jarratt’s, in small town Marshfield, Missouri, when the idea of ‘mom and pop’ thrived. My father followed suit and has always been in clothing sales. I must have been influenced by all those garmentos. When I was a little girl, I used to play “store” in our living room, methodically arranging dolls, toys and cassette tapes for resale to my family. I’ve always considered myself a worker bee. I was not “good” at school, but I was motivated by money. A paycheck meant much more to me than a good grade. Though probably against some sort of child labor laws, I was managing a Sunglass Hut before I could drive and, wanting to be independent, opted to take a cab to work over a ride from my parents.
My dream, since I could walk, was to start my own brick and mortar boutique. But after working in the industry for 10+ years, I decided that managing (rather than owning) an independent high-end store was the best way to pursue my passion, without so much overhead and risk. I joined SCOOP NYC with that goal in mind and was quickly promoted to Store Manager of the Brentwood location. I was so proud of getting the Store Manager title, the salary that accompanied the title and the years of hard work that earned me the role. I was living out my dream job and loving it. In college, I studied psychology and people tell me all the time I am not “using” my degree. I never say it out loud, but I am using it every second. My job is all about understanding people and I am fascinated by their motivations and moods.
Work was a constant; home was another story. Through a draining relationship, the store was a place where my mind got a break from obsessing over other questions that in hindsight, were impossible to answer. Upon my separation, I held on tighter and quietly told myself just keep it together. Stay professional and put a smile on your face. I was trying for ‘fake it till you make it’. But I was exhausted and depleted.
All of these things were true:
- I was working like a madwoman, but could barely afford the ridiculous rent on my studio apartment;
- Ten pounds later, Ben & Jerry and merlot had become my BFFs;
- Tinder, Match and Bumble were littering my phone. I was “duty dating” on the regular, when all I really wanted to do was curl up and watch Naked & Afraid (#couldbeworse, #watchifyouneedtofeelinstantlybetter;)
- The only place I felt relaxed was at Shape House, where I would put on a space-age sweat suit to bake in an aluminum sleeping bag and listen to Deepak Chopra Meditations for Attracting and Being in Love. It is hard to stress about lawyers, settlements and dating at 110 degrees.
Aha Moment: The only thing worse than taking immediate action was taking no action at all
For years, I have wanted to travel. I’ve thought about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (think Reese Witherspoon a la WILD), traveling South America and packing up for a vast American road trip. But I haven’t. Like many mid-thirties women, I was afraid of time; I thought ducking out of life (to pursue an adventure) would derail my goals and just make my biological clock tick louder and louder. Ironically, that same fear kept me holding tight to an impossible relationship. I knew it wasn’t working, but the sheer terror of being alone and the shame of failing were too much for me to bear. The idea of divorce was horrific in my mind, so being in an unhealthy relationship actually felt easier than starting a new one.
I had been clinging, with brute force and fear, to the idea of marriage and family for almost a decade. So it was such a stark contrast to be in that rose garden in The Netherlands. I had found something beautiful without trying; it felt like the beginning of possibility.
Aha Moment: There is a time and a place for everything.