For the last few years of my career, I consistently threatened I was this close to quitting my job to anyone who would listen.
I faux-quit a handful of times, some more dramatic than others (which meant I had to "unquit" a handful of times, some more dramatic than others). I fantasized a life outside the corporate world and the Outlook inbox, where yoga pants were deemed acceptable work attire and the words "run this through HR" were never ever spoken. A life without meetings and budgets and All Hands and cubicles. A life where Dilbert humor rendered meaningless.
I would dream. And then I would reel it in. Because, first, what the hell would I do? I was an accountant by trade. An accountant. And second, how could I leave it all behind? I made money. My business cards had a great title. I had helped build my company from the ground up. I had health insurance and expense accounts and a corporate apartment in Midtown New York at my disposal. And I belonged. There was a place for me. A well worn, well established place, replete with mentors, respect, and a role I was extremely good at.
So there was longing for something more. And then there was reality. And reality said play it safe, girl. You've got it really, really good.
But. But. As time went on, and as I was becoming who I was becoming, things started to shift. I started to shift. And one day I found myself not faux-quitting. One day I found myself quit-quitting. And just like that. On January 27th, 2014, no amount of money, staff, prestige, success, title, comfort, equity, or status was enough for just having it really, really good. There was something more than good on the other side of the perks and the safety - in the unknown - and the risk was no longer losing having it really, really good. The risk was settling for really, really good, and missing out on something that was really, really fucking amazing.
And so, here I am, with really, really good so far in the rear view mirror I cannot remember what settling for it smells like. Typing a blog from my shiny MacBook pro, not in yoga pants today but braless for sure, in a café - not a cubicle. Without a meeting in my calendar. Without an HR department to consider. Without a Dilbert comic in site. Doing work that moves my soul. And it is really, really fucking amazing.
For the last few years of my life, I consistently threatened I was this close to leaving San Francisco.
I moved to San Francisco in 2007, to a tiny little apartment in the Lower Haight. My second night here, a girlfriend and I smoked a joint at 11pm on a Wednesday! as we walked to get a $13 burger at NOPA, and I got that feeling - the one where you can't believe this is your life, you live here, you are doing this. I was in love. More than I had ever been in my entire life. I was home, it was mine, I was San Franciscan, and we would be together forever.
And then it changed. One day I woke up sober, a yoga instructor, a writer, and the world had grown up around me into something that was completely unrecognizable and foreign and strange. Into something that was not mine. I imagine this is what women feel like when they wake up in a loveless marriage, and realize they'd stayed far past the expiration date without realizing it. Staring from the outside in, wondering when they'd stopped being in. One day there were more Range Rovers than I remembered, I couldn't give a good restaurant recommendation to save my life (Salt House?), there were 127 cranes dotting the skyline, gaggles of men in non-ironic plaid, and there I was - paying $9.50 for a piece of toast and a latte.
I began to do my faux-quit dance. I couch surfed for five months. I ran to Rome, twice. I asked Laura if maybe I could live with her and if she thought Alma and I would get along. I dropped hints to my mom that perhaps she'd get a roommate soon.
But of course, as soon as I would get any degree of serious about this, I would do the thing we all do when faced with the need to move on and grow and change. I built up a case to not.
My skyline view. My rent control. My friends. My network. My sangha. My Muni, my hills, my bridges, my coffee, my walks, my fog, my park, my City. MY LIFE. I heard myself saying over and again those same tragic words. Play it safe, girl. You've got it really, really good.
And then yesterday, in the same out-of-body way I quit my job, I found myself not just threatening to break it off. I found myself putting my notice in to both San Francisco and my landlord.
Dear San Francisco, I love you, it's been real. But I quit. It's time. And we both know it. // Dear Chuck, I'm out. Jan 1.
One of my friends came over last night, surveying the skyline from my perfectly decorated shoebox of an apartment - the one that I pay $1,360 for that undoubtedly will market for more than double that amount, the one with the rooftop access and fire escape with the big beautiful plants, the one I vowed I'd never give up for as long as I fucking lived - as I explained to him my plan to move in with my mom until I find a place in Santa Monica, as I explained to him that I was looking to buy something in Rome, as I explained to him with all my conviction and the straightest face I can muster that I had just firmed this decision up 4.3 hours ago.
Him: "You're crazy to give this up."
Me: "No. I would be crazy not to try for my dreams." (Yes I know I'm crazy to give this up.) "I believe in myself and I trust the unknown." (Oh my God what the fuck am I doing?)
Here is the truth. As I was when I quit drinking, as I was when I quit my job, as I was when I started writing, as I was when I marked 40 days off of my calendar to "work" from Rome, as I was when I spent $10,000 on a week in Maui learning how to market my business or $8,000 on yoga trainings, as I was when I cashed out every last bit of my retirement and racked up the credit card debt for a BLOG about sobriety - as I have been when I have done anything that required a leap of faith and a move from my comfort zone - I am terrified. Fucking terrified.
But what I know, what I so deeply know with all of my being, is that our comfort zones are our prisons. That we were not meant to be here to build retirement accounts, work jobs that we hate because we are "good at them", keep apartments where the kitchen/bathroom/bed/living room are the same room because they are rent controlled and have good views and we believe it's the best we can do, stay in relationships we are miserable in because we are afraid of being alone, or any other thing that is a synonym for settling. That we are here to do impossible things, to leap outside of the familiar, the safe, the norm. That we are here to believe in ourselves and believe that we can do anything we want to do.
We are here not for the really, really good. We are here for the better-than-we-could-have-imagined-fairytale-miracle-kind-of-shit. And in order to have the BTWCHIFMKOS, we have to leap into the unknown, make the scary decisions, take the risk, and trust that it will be what we dream it to be, and more.
And so. I go forth. Without much of a plan, but enough faith to compensate for that. I might fail, I might not find what I'm looking for, I might end up living with my mom and her boyfriend Bill on a boat somewhere. I might many things. But I am brave enough to try. And that's basically all that matters.