Freak Out!

Upon breaking the news to my employer that I am leaving to chase this writing thing full-time, I have received exactly three categories of response from acquaintances around the company:
  1. That's awesome.
  2. You're crazy but that's awesome.
  3. I've been thinking about making a change as well.

All of which are encouraging; well wishes are not a guarantee of anything, but at least no one is telling me that I'm stupid for trying.

So why now? Why jump ship after spending the last four-and-a-half years establishing myself? Why throw away whatever professional credibility I've gained since college? Why reduce myself to starting over entirely?

Simple: because if there's ever a time, this is it. I remember when I was a sophomore in college and deciding between majors, and I had my choices narrowed down to either a career in computers or a career in writing. The former, while not my favorite topic or pastime in the world, was (at the time) an easy and extremely comfortable living for those who knew what they were doing. You have to remember, this was around 1997, 1998 - things were different for the average MIS major.

The latter was going to be hard. It was not going to be very glamorous for a very long while and there was an extremely high amount of uncertainty associated with it. So I passed, despite knowing in my head and in my heart that I belonged in a life devoted to the written word. No big deal, I thought.

But things change between the time you're 18 and the time you're 26. You start to realize that money and status are not everything they're cracked up to be. One of my favorite lessons in college was one day in Dr. Stoner's Leadership and Interpersonal Behavior (BMA 357 for all you BMA/BCS majors out reading this - go Braves!) class. It was a senior-level class, and the good docter went around the room asking each of us what we were looking for in our job searches. The answers were pretty uniform; money, prestige in the employer name, responsibility, and so on.

He then asked us what we thought people over the age of 30 said when asked to rank what they were looking for in a job. At the top of the list were intrinsic satisifaction, pride in their work, and flexibility. Pay ranked absolute last.

Pretty sobering stuff. I of course laughed it off. What's not fulfilling about making $250k a year by the time you're 35?

We'll fast-forward to last year and one of my managers asking me what I thought was next in store for me. It was nice to think about, but the hard part was realizing that I didn't know the answer. Design? Management? Sales? None of them were very appealing. So I started thinking deeper: What Would I Rather Be Doing?

And I thought about what I did when I went home. About what I did when what I did was up to me. When I didn't have to think about how I could put it off or how I could align it with someone else's agenda, priorities, and goals.

So here I come, world. Armed with nothing but a life savings, raw talent, and the will to suceed, this will be my time to shine. It has to be.

I'm betting my life on it.