I did it. I’ve been dreaming, planning, wishing, hoping, talking, thinking, agonizing, second-guessing for over a year, and last week, I finally did it. I left my career behind. After what I realized last September, you’d think my career change would be an easy decision to make. I clearly wasn’t happy being a lawyer. Why didn’t I leave sooner? What was I waiting for? My resolve was there, but acting upon it was something else entirely. It was the most difficult career decision I have ever made.
Change is hard. No. Change is damn near impossible. I like the company I was working for. I believe in its mission. They do good things. My boss valued and respected me. He wanted me and my colleagues to succeed. My coworkers and I made a formidable team, we always had each other’s backs, and they are among some of my dearest friends. So. Yeah. Telling everyone I was resigning sucked. Even though I dreaded doing the work every day, I loved being with those people every day. Saying goodbye to the environment was bittersweet.
It is also damn near impossible to explain to others what it is that I’m planning to do. Because let’s be honest, I don’t totally know yet. Although I have ideas, they aren’t fully fleshed out, and they are super hard to explain with any confidence to other people. Let me try with you, and please let me know what you think.
I’m going to write. This is where people cock their heads at me, narrow their eyes a bit, and ask the dreaded question, “write what?” I explain the SpitfireMom Society to them and can read their minds as they think “oh, what a fun hobby. But what is she going to do?” I tell them I want to launch my own site and start freelance writing and they look puzzled. Anytime you utter the word “freelance” to someone in corporate America their thoughts jump to “unemployed.” Then I start to stammer on about my grander ideas. I’m not great at writing fiction, but I’d like to spend some time working on it. I really think I can write nonfiction. And I have a hell of a story in mind, but it’s not one I’m ready to share. So their judgment falls into place: “She has no fucking idea what she’s going to do. She’s totally lost it.”
I’m going to teach. I have discovered that although I don’t like practicing law, I do still find it fascinating and I like helping others understand it as it applies to them. I have great ideas in mind for medical students and residents, and I’d love to launch that into a viable business. My experience – professionally as a health care lawyer and personally as the spouse of a physician – have shown me over and over that legal education for physicians is a gaping hole in their training. And I’d love to teach a law school class, but I have to get over the insulting stipend adjunct professors earn in this country.
I’m volunteering. I’ve never had the time to be a room mom or to volunteer regularly at my kids’ school. I’m doing both this year and I’m on the board of directors for my sons’ soccer club. I’d like to find other opportunities too – talking to school kids about the constitution, delivering gifts at the children’s hospital on Christmas day, baking challah and hamentaschen during the holidays at my synagogue.
I’d like to achieve some personal goals too. I’m going to regain control of my own health and, in turn, that of my family. Less going out to eat. Less take-out. More healthy and delicious meals prepared at home. More exercise. And someday, the laundry will be done and the house will be organized. (Who am I kidding? Perhaps when the boys leave for college.)
I could launch this post into a discussion about staying at home versus working full time, because some of my friends and acquaintances think I’ve stepped away from practicing law to be a stay at home mom. I won’t touch that debate with a ten foot pole, in large part because it’s a false and damaging conversation. You do what’s best for you and your family and it’s nobody else’s business. End of story. Since having kids I’ve almost done it all – I’ve stayed home, worked part time, and worked full time. Now it’s time to tackle the final frontier – working for myself from home. It’s going to take some time to get my writing/speaking/teaching hybrid up and running. And yes, I want to be done at 3:30 every day so that I can pick up the boys and get them to soccer practice on time. Stay tuned.