I am still in the midst of “The Conflict” (it now gets its own designated title). I am still at my current position, but I do know those days are numbered now – very numbered. And as I reflect back on these past 6 weeks, I have been undertaking a different kind of work – the work of preparation.  

Prepping for the change.

I have been counting the costs of my current life. I have been evaluating what is truly important and asking the Universe, or God, or whatever (we’ll just call him/her “Uni” for short), what is it that is most important to me?

As I look back on the life I have built with the earnings I have made, I am realizing – none of this is what is important to me, sadly. I have been toiling under the sun, all for not. I have willingly chained myself to this life and continue to tighten the handcuffs with all the consumption I am doing. I’ve been so paralyzed by the fear of losing the credibility of my MBA, my amazon fresh grocery delivery service, my Moroccanoil curly hair product, my ability to pay for large, unnecessary purchases, and the constant steady supply of alcohol for my guy and I. I look back and I go… really, Ash? Really? This is what you’re fearful of losing?

If you’ve read my latest posts, you’d know that my biggest wrestle is about being wholly authentic, and how to marry that with my current job situation – which after a great amount of effort over this past year, I have determined it can’t be done. However, I left off asking myself if I should stay at my current job for 5 more months in order to knock out some personally important debt that I want off my plate. But this seemed daunting to remain at my job for 5 more months. And not only that, it felt like just another tiny, quiet compromise to my wholly authentic self.

What the Uni and I have been wrestling over has been a hard realization that all the “luxuries” I have become accustomed to, have really been consumed in an effort to soothe the pain of working in a position I hate. The Credibility of my MBA? I am scared to have earned my degree and have nothing to show for it. The Amazon fresh delivery? It  serves to soothe the exhaustion of the lack of time and energy I have to grocery shop with my current commute and travel schedule. The Moroccanoil hair product? It’s a higher-end product I buy so I can feel presentable in front of clients instead of having crazy frizz-head. The ability to make large, unnecessary purchases? Well, they are an effort to put on display the financial security I so desperately wanted, so I can remind myself that “I have arrived” (to a degree). The constant steady supply of alcohol? Let’s be honest – I am drinking because I detest my current day-to-day life… 

All these things have been for my job. I am serving the wrong master.  Ouch.

After some evaluation and many, MANY conversations with my guy, we opted for a different, slightly less-invasive compromise for now –  one that I am trying to allow myself the ability to abandon if absolutely needed: Student loan debt only. We’ll not worry about the small loan we took to work on the house, since that loan was against 401K funds, and technically isn’t “debt.” We chose this month and next to skimp and save, eat at home and not buy Moroccanoil curly hair product in order to kill the debt. And it’s working. We are reducing costs significantly. Sure, it sucks because brunch with Aly now just means black coffee, and I have to say no to many small pleasures that help numb the pain of the current position I work in. However, making these alterations has also dropped my timeline of the chains to my job from 5 months to 2.5 months. (I may be able to do 2.5 months. We’ll see. But if I need to jump ship earlier than that, I am getting to a point where I’ll allow myself to do so.)

But to be honest? I feel ashamed. As I look back, resting in the gracious arms of the Uni, I am having to accept a hard, hard truth: All my tiny, quiet compromises have built this “great” life – one that looks KILLER in black and white. But sadly, this is not my great life. I have opted to build a life that someone else would be better suited to live. I am not proud of this. I am left with the shame of realizing I’ve been playing a social game I never wanted to play, and building a socially accepted (albeit small) empire, that was never supposed to be mine. And I hate it. I want to play a different game now.

My guy is asking for my “plan.” I don’t know that I have a plan. I don’t want to commit to a plan because I can’t guarantee my stated “plan” would work out. I have ideas, of course, but I don’t want to give him yet another thing to be disappointed in if those ideas don’t pan out. We’ve had tough conversations surrounding this and I now understand my choice to completely overturn our financial life is hard for him. I hate how hard it is for him. He’s swimming in insecurity and instability right now. And this sucks. Because I realize that those small compromises I’ve made have not only affected me, but now have very real consequences to him as well. I was staying in this job and making our plans to buy our motorcycles, pay off debt, build our retirement, and get that plumbing and bathroom work done, and now I am saying, “I am sorry – I can’t do it any longer. I am suffocating. I am dying.” And he’s left feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under him. His secure financial world is completely threatened.

To top it all off, I don’t know that my change will amount to anything but another great heaping failure (I have done it once before, to which I will write about in an upcoming post). But I do know, I have to try. I don’t want to be looking back on my deathbed, 50 years from now (one can hope) asking myself, “why didn’t you just try to pursue those things that most excited you?” I don’t want to look my proverbial future kid in the face and have to say, “Don’t do what mommy did – you pursue your dreams.” I don’t want to continue sacrificing my life for the shell of a life I am living now. I want better. I want different. I need real, even if it’s hard.

So, preparation. It’s brutal when another soul is involved. I’ve been working this out with my guy for the last 6 weeks because I truly do want to have the least amount of impact to him.  I truly do want to help set his expectations for a few more years of hard financial sacrifices, if thats what it takes. And we’re still working out the details of this before any leap can be made. But, it’s really challenging when you’ve set expectations and have to be the one to renege on your deal. It’s hard having those closest to you perceive you as unstable, and a risk. But what I am arriving to, is the realization that no one will create my life for me. I have to do it myself. I have to “vote for me.” I finally am coming to terms that I am unable to continue serving others’ expectations of me. I can’t continue to compromise what I really want for what others think I should do. I am tired of making everyone else feel comfortable about what they perceive as my success.

It’s time to write my own story. 

Cheers.

“YOU don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you’ve got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough: A Mini Instruction Manual for the Soul

*Photo credit: Alle Jong, Facing the Dark 2

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