It’s that time of night that feels stagnant and missing from chronology; it’s not technically today anymore, but tomorrow isn’t here yet either. And with a face full of unhealthy monitor glow and a belly full of tea and water, I’m asking myself a question I’ve asked 2351095904 times in the past three weeks. How did I get here?
What’s so important about MY life that I just HAD to quit my job to live it?
Exactly a week ago, I was waking up for my last day of work at Nielsen. Today (“tonight” feels more appropriate for 2 AM), I’m sitting here, procrastinating on my latest freelance article, and wondering what makes me so important. Why do my holidays with family and vacations back home matter more than my co-workers’? Answer: they don’t. But I’m damn glad that I was able to decide that 26 should be the age I start employing MYSELF. And I’m so grateful that my life’s circumstances converged to make that possible.
I was clicking mindlessly through Facebook photos in between my newest, weirdest (but refreshingly productive) form of procrastination: writing the assignment that’s due in five days before the one that’s due in five hours. In this case, writing about Chicago theater instead of children’s yoga; in tomorrow’s inevitable case, researching film noir instead of fashion bloggers. Me sleeveless in the Illinois snow, me holding stray cats in five different countries, me enjoying an afternoon open bar with co-workers at that job that’s still so freshly gone it’s a little warm… the makings of a decent life so far, but nothing so extreme and important that I should get to live 75% more of it than everyone else.
Since word leaked at work and I started telling friends, I’ve repeatedly hurried through explanations of my new career. “What are you going to be doing?” sounds harmless
enough, but answering requires enormous restraint when my whole core is resisting specifics so viscerally. But when I answer “where are you going?” with “home”, the syllable drips with guilt.
And then I offer the obligatory “honestly, I’m just so lucky to have this choice to make, and to be able to take this leap… I feel like I owe it to the majority of people who will never have that luxury”.
I’m conscious of how far from independent I am. While I can take credit for some of the academic and career milestones that look good on paper, that has little to do with my odds of thriving or writhing in my current role. I can’t help looking around in this makeshift home office and realizing how little I actually paid for. Generous family members, friends with fortuitous timing, and a loving, tech-savvy boyfriend have managed to create this entire environment that has gone from little-used guest room to full-time workplace in less than a month.
The dresser belonged to my mom as a child, and I used it every summer at Auntie Linda’s in Indiana. The desk, dropped off by the same guy who introduced me to Joel. Even the smartphone was a freebie that his co-worker didn’t want, and the laptop was a graduation present from my grandmother.The extra monitor, the wireless keyboard and mouse, even the mousepad… all bequeathed to me by people who were upgrading to bigger and better.
So I guess what I’m saying is… I can thank the materialism and consumerism I just escaped for furnishing my brand new struggle to defeat it.