For the past two decades, I have lived primarily under the notion of “delayed gratification.” I went to school, chose a career, worked my way up the ladder, and moved around for jobs. I made lots of room for fun along the way, but I was living my life under the idea that I was working hard in order to save money for the future, a future that would involve a husband and a kid or two.
During this time, I watched as other women quit jobs to get married, have kids, and follow their husbands to new locations. I soldiered on, figuring my day would come. Meanwhile, the economy tanked not once but twice, and each time, staff was cut and my workload grew exponentially. Deemed competent, I was rewarded with more work. My friends disappeared into marriages and babies, and my social life shrank as my workload grew.
I thought of myself as strong and brave and resilient as I survived the slings and arrows of dating and the disappearance of my friends, moved to new locations as a solo woman, took trips alone, lived far from family, and started anew again and again. This psychological “strength,” as it turns out, took a toll on my physical health, and I’ve finally realized that this is not a healthy way to live.
So I’m taking what feels like a radical leap. Leaving my job. Moving to a smaller city with plans to live with a friend. Signing up for classes that will, yes, improve my marketability but that will also be stimulating and rewarding. Investing in myself. Planning to work part-time for a while, if at all. If possible, working part-time forever (perhaps I will find that elusive thirty-hour job). Designing a life with room for friends, social life, spirituality, physical health, and intellectual stimulation. Creating the space to find love.
My health depends on it. In some ways, my autoimmune disorder has been a blessing, in that it has forced me to reorganize my priorities and reshape my life. After all, retirement funds aren’t much comfort to the dead.
wow–this could almost be me, right down to the autoimmune condition. And I was just thinking the very same thing this morning about my retirement account!
I however, only think (obsess?) about moving away to a slower-paced, less-expensive area, to totally change course or work part-time at my ‘career’ job in order to make time to do the things I really care about. It takes a lot of courage, and I applaud you! I hope that you will continue to be there as a source of encouragement; your writings mean a lot, I know not just to me.
Thanks for writing! I’ll be able to work part-time for a year, but I don’t know if I can pull it off forever, since part-time jobs seem to pay little. I’m hoping to find a part-time job at some place I’d like to stay, then perhaps increase my hours while still keeping them at 32 or less and maybe increasing my pay as I take on more important tasks. I’m really motivated about this so we’ll see. Of course, one of the reasons I can even consider the idea is that I worked full-time for two decades and bought property, got vested in some pensions, put some money away, etc.
I that sounds like a wonderful idea and I hope you are very happy 🙂 I agree so much with your post (and the another article on stress). I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately (prob as I’ve been under a lot of work stress). The way that stress can debilitate (emotionally and physically) is so insidious. It can make it hard to get a grip of to steady yourself and get centered. Work stress can esp be hard – I feel like I need to breathe literally and figuratively. In my case, it also doesn’t help that where I live in Europe it’s grey and dark all the time, it just weighs you down. Oh, for sunny blue skies.
I think that making the move now – while you can (e.g. before you get more stressed at work, or with more responsibility etc, and in a position where you feel you can’t leave) is so smart and I’m beyond impressed that you are so financially secure! I wish you all the luck in the world 🙂
Thank you. I felt like I needed to move while I felt good again and able to tackle it– a couple of years ago I was in bad shape physically from my illness and a cross-country move seemed too daunting.