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The one where I quit my job and freak out a little bit
A couple things happened this week that changed everything.
Actually, that was kind of dramatic. Let me rephrase that: My life is completely the same. I just internally freaked out for a minute.
What happened was that first I quit my job (on Monday), then I accepted a new one (on Tuesday), then my very first choice agent reached out and requested the entire manuscript of my book (also Tuesday), then a music producer reached out wanting to produce my rap album (Wednesday). Then I became very overwhelmed with all the possibilities and I couldn't sleep a wink last night (Thursday). So my husband and I took the day off to go to the museum and get my head on right (Friday).
It all started when I wrote the article it took me all of last year to write and I realized what my actual dream was (to publish books and live in exotic lands while writing them) and that it wasn't achievable (because money, and that's not how book writing actually works unless you are famous). But then I realized I could actually have some part of that life if my job was to be a fully remote writer. I could live in exotic lands and write books, and also have a job that supports me and my husband while I'm doing those things. Win-win no?
COVID really drove this idea home for me because, at the very beginning of it, my husband and I were fully remote for the first time in our lives and we were so excited about it that we immediately eloped to a cabin in Montana with friends and it was absolutely the dream. Then my husband went to live and work with his family in Virginia for a month so he and his dad could finish building out our camper van together while my sister, who was now also remote, came out to live and work with me for a month and we spent every evening having crab bakes, learning how to play tennis, and practicing our moonwalks to perfection—and it was also the dream.
Then my office started coming back in to work on Tuesdays (our big meeting day) and I started to get FOMO. Because the friends of ours that were still fully remote were taking their remote jobs to Costa Rica and living there for three months at a time. And my family all communed together at my parents’ beach house for three months and were sending me pictures of the starfish they found on their tide-pool walks every day. And because I still had to be in the office every Tuesday, my trips out to see them were limited to a week.
And I know I'm playing the role of the millennial so thoroughly right now. Trust me, I know. (Even when spoke with my publisher about my next phase he said, "yeah, I want to travel too, but that's something you do when you retire.") So I get it, I’m leaving a job I absolutely love, as the editor of a magazine I absolutely loved being part of, so I can be a freelance writer and work remotely. How very millennial of me.
But here’s the thing: Millennials made this sort of thing possible for ourselves. We already wanted to work from home and then the pandemic made all the businesses go "ok yeah I guess that wasn’t such a bad idea, after all." So now there exist fully remote jobs and that means I can travel the world and be a writer BEFORE I'm retired!!!!!! And isn't that just too much excitement to bear?
And so, on the same little cross country ski sesh where I had all the thoughts, I remembered that I had a job like that before and that I absolutely loved it so I reached out to the owner and they just happened to be hiring for a fully remote writer job so I quit my other one and accepted the new one and then I was like, ‘here I go being one of those freelance writer types who writes from the jungle!!’ And BAM: A book agent also named Elle living in the city where my husband grew up (trying very hard not to see this all as a sign) sent me spiraling into complete and utter happiness. I actually jumped up and down in the elevator at work until it dinged and the doors opened up on the fifth floor and I walked out like a complete professional.
(Then I re-read the first few chapters of my book over again from the perspective of the agent now reading it and became utterly horrified. Like is this what I wrote? GOD WHY. But, I digress…).
Anyway, I got home and was like AM I REALLY GOING TO LIVE MY DREAM LIFE RIGHT NOW?
So now we’re up to speed and it’s Thursday and I’m starting to freak out and I’m starting to wonder if my husband is going to win the argument this week. He and I are in constant debate about stoicism vs. epicureanism, as couples are. He is decidedly of the stoic sort (life is just the waves crashing against us but we can stand there all zen and stoic-like as they hit us) and I am decidedly of the epicurean sort (life is just the waves crashing against us but we can splash and dance in the waves and just be really happy about it). Every week one of us is trying to win this argument, but now, having experienced way too much excitement for one week I am starting to wonder if I should pick up one of his stoic books and just chill out for a minute.
Because after all the happiness, I sort of…. crash. Because I really loved my job as an editor and, I did spend all this time “working my way up,” and, as it turns out, I do really well with structure. These past three years have been some of the most healthy and happy and fulfilling years of my life. Because after moving a million times and changing my career a million times we moved to a city we loved, bought a house we loved, and I got a job I loved, and because of all that structure I wrote my book every morning, my husband and I had adventures in our van every weekend, and I felt very creatively and adventurously fulfilled.
And now here I was wanting more. Wanting to be one of those nomad writers living in the jungle with nothing but my wifi to connect me to the world—and what if that was really all too much?? What if I feel completely uprooted by all the travel but our house is Airbnb’d so we can’t go home and now we’re living out of a van in the middle of New Mexico with no shower in sight and I’m supposed to work here but the wifi isn’t good enough and I don’t really want to stay in another hotel and I don’t really want to eat at another restaurant because my stomach already feels like shit from the last one.
And what if I like my home, my routine, my space to write every morning? What if I like to go to the farmers market every Friday to get fresh fruit from the garden? What if I like having neighbors I can hang out on the porch with? What if Park City is one of my favorite places to hike and I don’t always have to go so far to find another mountain to climb? What if what I have is already enough? What if what I want is just too much?
And then it turned 5 am—the time that I have decided qualifies as daytime so I’m allowed to wake up—and everything was fine. Actually, it was perfect. I took a bath, made myself some tea, and started writing my book—just as I’ve done every day for the past three years. Then at 9 am, I switched over to work mode, made myself a list of the things I wanted to accomplish that day, and checked them all off—just as I’ve done every day for the past year. Then my husband and I walked to the museum and had a wonderful afternoon before grabbing dinner with good friends.
As it turns out, my new life will be quite similar to my old life—only now I can choose where I want to live it. Whether we decide to spend a month in Costa Rica, or a month at home, I now have the freedom of choice. Just as I did this past year, I can find the balance between structure and travel (and can plan to not be in the middle of New Mexico without a shower on a weekday). In fact, I can live exactly the sort of life I want to live without waiting until retirement to live it.
It is too much, really. It’s the dream. But I’m an epicurean, in the end—and I fully intend on enjoying it.
Until next Sunday,
Quote of the week
From “Just You Wait” by Doree Shafrir in Town & Country:
“Fresh, young ideas are great. But so are thoughtfully aged ideas. Maybe they’re ideas that someone has been working on, slowly and carefully, for years, even decades. When we want only the shiny new baubles, we miss out on the brilliant antique gemstones that are just as valuable, if not more.”
The movie Palm Springs with Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. This is the perfect kind of movie to me. Irreverant and funny, but also deep. But in a way that still leaves you feeling good about life in the end (in true Epicurean fashion).
This article about an organization that aims to scientifically prove people have superpowers. Spoiler: no one has made it through testing successfully.
This tweet which I can’t stop laughing about:
Writing goals this week
Book one: Sent it to an agent!!!!!!!!!!
Book two: Chapter two complete! Started chapter three. Manuscript is at 2,958 words.
Articles: Wrote this newsletter.
Rap album: I scheduled a date to sit and think about this in a month when I have more time. It’s too much right now!