About a month ago now, I was sitting at work in my brand new Tory Burch riding boots–the most expensive article of clothing I had ever bought, or even considered buying. I’d let them sit patiently in my closet until I’d decided to bite the bullet and wear them outside. That’s the moment of truth–the moment when you can no longer look back, print off your return packing slip from ShopBop, and await the restuffing of your bank account. That’s the moment of commitment.
And then something happened at work, something that I won’t go into, and I left in a hurry and decided to never go back. I felt there was no way I could make myself go back, but I knew I’d have to consider it, once I talked to O and to my parents, who would surely tell me to calm down, take a deep breath, and get over it.
My mother agreed that it was not a positive work environment whatsoever, but suggested that I begin looking for jobs in the interim, because “it’s always easier to find a new job when you already have one”. I considered it, but my mind was close to set already.
I texted O a general overview of what had happened but kept my intentions to quit altogether to myself for now. When he got home, he said, simple as this,
“You shouldn’t work there anymore. You should quit. I can support you.”
Despite the Pinterest boards, we are not married, nor are we engaged. Don’t be surprised if an all-caps OMGOMGOMG engagement ring Instagram shot shows up in your feed in the next few months, but for now? We are not married, nor are we engaged.
He moved in recently, though I had always been one to claim that you shouldn’t live with a man before you have a serious commitment. I’m not the only one; there’s research to support it. Yet, I figured we’re as good as engaged–he’s asked me ringless a few times in a way so casual it’s both completely normal and totally mind-boggling all at once–so it wouldn’t stifle the excitement of reaching new levels in the relationship. It felt more like he’d already bought the cow on credit, so he wasn’t getting the milk for free.
He just had to pay it off later.
Before this present defining moment, O had claimed he could support me on his salary as is. This statement came up when discussing future career plans, geographical decisions, and how many children I’m expected to pop out. He knows I want to stay home when I have children–he’s known this since before we met. Yet I feel as though sometimes he neglects to consider just how much it would cost to keep a family of four or five afloat–and in private middle and high schools. If we move, we’ll move somewhere with good public schools. But if we move, will he have to get a job in the private sector? If he gets a job in the private sector, will he get to spend enough time with us?
These questions always circled back to his ability to support me fully at any given moment, which, up until that day, I’d considered a manly display of competence, not to be taken too seriously.
Except… he meant it.
Once I made the decision to actually leave, I was faced with the more difficult task of deciding what I would actually do as a jobless midtwentiessomething. I’d been toying with the idea of taking on entrepreneurial ventures full-time for a few years now, having enjoyed these projects more than any I’d been handed down, but none were ready to support me just yet.
Sometime in between firmly deciding I would not return to that office and investing in my first load of inventory, I decided to start a vintage clothing shop. Hadn’t I always adored vintage clothes? Hadn’t I loved spending hours scouring the racks at thrift stores and garage sales for great finds with my friends in high school? Aren’t I a great fashion curator? Don’t I know the current trends?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes, I decided, though I’m still unsure as to how I truly came upon the idea. I had nothing for sale on Etsy, no too-big or too-small vintage clothes hanging around my house waiting to sell on my hobby eBay store. The only thing I can think of–and suspend your disbelief here for a moment–is my coincidentally identical Pinterest “vision board” I’d made a few weeks before.
I’m not one to buy into much hippiesque hocus-pocus-type stuff, but when I learned about the law of attraction, it just made sense to me. Why couldn’t thoughts have quantitative or qualitative value? There was a study of runners that convinced me fully and is worth sharing. Scientists recorded the physiological and neurological activity of a group of runners as they ran a race–I can’t remember exactly how long, but I’m not sure it matters. They then hooked this group of runners back up and verbally walked them through the race, as they sat sedentary in a room. The brain activity was the same, whether they were running on the pavement or just in their minds.
Of course, we can’t see the brainwaves, but why shouldn’t they compose an additional dimension in which we live? I see no reason why they shouldn’t, and I noted how many times it was true I’d drawn to myself more of what I thought about, whether it be relationship problems, bills, or work. At the very least, I decided to give it a shot, because, well, what could a little positive thinking hurt?
At the very least, envisioning my goals would help me work towards them in a real way. Right?
So a week or so before I quit my job, I made a professional-fashion-blogger vision board on Pinterest, composed of only three photos that I thought visually made up much of the life of a professional fashion blogger:
1. A stylishly-dressed midtwentyssomething bending down with a DSLR
2. A bright and open home office
3. Racks of clothes
Clearly I was designing the life of a professional fashion blogger, right? Maybe so, but a week into my new life as a vintage curator and seller, I was squatting down with my DSLR in my bright and open home office, taking photos of the racks of clothes and the Pinterest board dawned on me.
Coincidence or not, the shop is a more fulfilling gig than I’ve had in years. Yet part of me feels guilty for staying home, sitting up in bed on my laptop at 7:30 a.m., while O leaves for work in a suit. To ease the load on him, I cut our food budget by 40% and cook dinner six nights a week now. I took on an internship as a blogger at an international business network that’s headquartered here in town. And I’m still in school. For staying at home, I’m certainly a lot busier than I used to be–part housewife, part vintage show owner, part blogger, part student.
I’m a person who needs structure, a person who plans, a person who writes out every tiny detail of any project in order to organize my thoughts just that much better. Quitting my job without a back-up plan wasn’t like me, and for a week or two there, I lived everyday in terror, worried I wouldn’t be able to “make it” by making my own way. Since then? I’ve regained my confidence.
But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a traditional 8-to-5 job in an office, forced to wear a certain thing each day (or forced to not wear yoga pants during the workday), made to work on other people’s projects. It’s not a convenient development, but I sure as hell don’t dread the week like I used to.
What’s the most by-the-seat-of-your-pants move you’ve ever made?
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