As most of you may know, this past week, I finally got the chance to quit my day job so I can focus solely on my business and all its facets. Now, it didn’t happen exactly how or when I imagined it, so that added a bit of stress to my already stressful life, but I have faith in God and I have faith in myself and this business, so I know I’ll make it. No. Scratch that. I’m not just going to make it. I’m going to THRIVE.
But I must admit, even though this has been a goal of mine for the past couple years, I’m having some feelings about the whole thing.
One is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of failure. Fear of inadequacy.
Another is anxiety. Anxiety about the future. Anxiety about paying the bills. Anxiety about health insurance for an entrepreneur. Anxiety about what my friends and family think about this decision.
But one of the biggest feelings I’m feeling right now is one I can’t sum up in one word. So, I’ll try to explain it a bit further. Let me start by explaining how this decision came about.
This past week, I walked away from a 22-year career as a civil litigation and trial paralegal. The impetus of this decision was a situation with a brand-new co-worker who, out of insecurity and jealousy, lied about me and tried to get me in trouble with the law firm I worked for. Well, it almost worked. I was called into the office by the HR manager, who drove 3 hours from the corporate office to interrogate me like I was some sort of Law & Order suspect. After nearly thirty minutes of being grilled ceaselessly about what I said or didn’t say, what I did or didn’t do, and why I had allegedly behaved the way I’d been accused of behaving, the HR manager told me she was going to suspend me “pending further investigation into the matter.” I didn’t think. I didn’t react. I simply stood up and said, “Don’t bother. I quit.”
Without getting into the lurid details of what this petty, insecure, new co-worker accused me of, it’s enough to just tell you it was something so innocuous and unimportant, the whole thing was a complete overreaction on HR’s part, and all I was accused of doing was having a dispute with a co-worker. You’d have thought I’d been caught siphoning money from the firm’s bank account into my own or assaulting said co-worker. It was stupid. It was pointless. And it was silly. So the only conclusion I can draw from the entire ridiculous situation is that this was God working in yet another one of his mysterious ways to open a door for me to finally walk away from all the bureaucratic nonsense and focus on the new life I wanted so badly to have. That’s the only logical explanation for something so crazy happening out of the blue like that.
After leaving the office for the last time, no, I’m not ashamed to admit, I cried the whole way home and then some. I screamed and cussed and ranted and yelled into my mom’s and my best friend’s ears for almost two hours. BUT…once I finally got over the initial shock and “WTF” feeling, a certain sort of peace washed over me, and I realized this may not have been how I envisioned things going down or when I wanted it to happen, but I’m not in control. God is in control. And He has a plan for me, which I totally believe involves me growing this business even bigger and stronger, which I could never do while running the rat race every day of the week, nine to five. I’m at peace already, and despite the lingering hostility and anger I admittedly carry for the new co-worker who started the whole mess, I am already happier than I have been in a very long time. And I feel relieved, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
But that one feeling I’m trying to describe still lingers. And it revolves around the fact that I feel like I’ve wasted 22 years of my life, two college degrees, and nearly fifty-thousand dollars in tuition and student loans. I don’t regret walking away. Not only had I been dreaming of that day for two years, but I had to get away for my own health and sanity. As a trial paralegal, I didn’t just work forty hours per week. I had to often take stress home with me, and that’s not to even get into the trials I went to every year. At each two-week trial (of which we typically did 3-4 per year), I got an average of 4 to 5 hours sleep each night, meaning I was awake and working for twenty-plus hours each day for two weeks straight. While I enjoyed going to trial, it was highly stressful, and at 42, I’m not sure I could have kept that pace much longer. Not while keeping my health and my sanity intact.
For 22 years, I worked thanklessly behind the scenes. While I enjoyed being a paralegal most days, it was a highly stressful career path. When people used to ask me “what’s a paralegal?” I’d say that we’re like a nurse is to a doctor. We do all the work for less than half the pay and none of the glory. Attorneys are highly intelligent and successful people. But most of those I’ve met over the past two decades are NOT people-people. Meaning, they don’t have the best interpersonal skills. And they make horrible personnel managers. And every day, I worked with this huge dark cloud hovering over my head, worrying about if one tiny mistake I make might cost the attorney his bar license. That kind of stress can wear a person down, and I began to burn out after 15 years, but I kept going because, at the time, I needed the income and the security that came with a 9 to 5 job.
Despite those stressors, I still feel like I’ve walked away from a prestigious and successful career and stepped into a world of the unknown and uncertainty. It’s scary, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared as hell about how and if this business is going to continue to grow as it has the past few months. If it does, I’ll be just fine. I have a few kinks to work out, but I’ll be able to support myself and my daughters as they step into adulthood and create lives for themselves. BUT…if for some reason it doesn’t succeed or if it suddenly begins to fade away, I’ll be in a world of hurt. I’ll be forced to take another day job to make ends meet, which I really, really don’t want to do.
I can tell you one thing. As much as I feel conflicted about stepping away from a 22-year professional career, even if this business does not continue to grow and succeed, I’ll never step foot inside another law firm. I’ll sell flowers at a roadside stand or bake cakes at a bakery before I ever join the rat race again. It was a nice career while it lasted, but it wore me down, and at the end of the day, I can’t work in a field or career where my job and my very livelihood is constantly in limbo and could be taken away from me in an instant by a petty, jealous co-worker who lies about me to maneuver herself into my position. I will not live with that ax hanging over my head every day ever again. Mark my words on that.
So, rather than focusing on the past 22 years and all I’ve walked away from, I’m going to turn my eyes to the future and watching what I’ve built these past few years (and especially the past few months) continue to grow and succeed. I want nothing more than to spend my last 20 plus years as a working woman serving authors and helping them learn from my experience, training, and expertise. I want to help every author I possibly can write their best book and follow their dreams like I am and see their careers as authors skyrocket. That’s me living the dream. That’s what I want out of life. And now, I’m going to put every effort and devote every waking moment into growing this business and nourishing it from within. The bigger this gets, the more authors I can help. And that, my friends, is what I was put on this earth to do. I truly believe that.
I hope you guys know and appreciate how much I care about each and every one of you and how much I truly want to see you find your own success and happiness. I want to help you nurture your passion and turn it into a career as an author. I know I’m not THE ultimate expert on all things related to writing books. I don’t pretend to be for even one second. But I have 10 years of experience in this industry, both as an author and working on the other side in publishing. I want to spend the rest of my working life sharing everything I’ve learned and will continue to learn with you guys and helping you write your best book.
If you’d like to be a part of the Top Shelf Family and work with a service that loves authors and wants to see them succeed and reach their fullest potential, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, night or day (especially now). I can always be reached through social media messengers or you can email me at email@example.com. I want to show you how much we can help you before, during, and after you write your book. You’ll love my staff as much as I do. And we have a wide range of services to help you on your book journey. We’d love to have you onboard. Just reach out and tell me how I can help you.
Thanks for listening to this ranty post.
Love you all.
Founder/CEO – Top Shelf Editing