I always thought that the right thing to do was to go to college, get a good job to pay off college and try to climb the ladder. If I was smart enough, I would be at the top eventually. If I worked hard enough, I would get whatever job I wanted to get.
This may sound familiar. It’s how most of us grew up.
Anyway, I did things “correctly.” I went to college. I was the first one in my family to get a degree. I moved to Nashville and thought I wanted a career in music publishing. So, I worked. I got internships. I graduated and had offers.
And even then, it felt off. I knew I didn’t want to work 16 hour days for bottom rung salary and “pay my dues.” The hustle felt wrong. It felt like a lie. So, I left. And then I accidentally landed in the nonprofit political space.
Masochism at its finest, right?
I worked even harder at that. I got good jobs that paid well. I traveled and I “branded” myself. I did all the correct things and I was “successful.” I also didn’t have any of the things that were most important to me. I didn’t have a family. I wasn’t pursuing writing or any of my other creative outlets. I was an absent friend, and I was miserable.
So, I changed focus and went corporate. I thought that was the responsible route. I had a solid salary and a 401k match and benefits. It was safe. I hated it even more than I hated the hustle.
In 2018 and 2019, I lost two “safe” jobs. Companies closed. Acquisitions happened and departments were eliminated. At that point, I determined that nothing was “safe.” It was all a cost-benefit analysis. Was the marginally higher salary high enough to make the personal sacrifices?
I decided that it wasn’t. I quit. And I’ll never go back.
I’m making a lot less money than I used to, but I’m not in therapy trying to manage my anxiety. I hang out with my kids. And I’m more creative than I’ve ever been. Those trade-offs were worth every single thing I “gave up” when I left corporate life.
If you’re scared, there are other ways. You do not have to follow The Plan that was laid out for you when you were in elementary school. Making mistakes and changing courses is healthy. It is not a sign of weakness to revise your course when new information presents itself.
Grow. Change. And do NOT be the thing that holds you back.
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About the Writer: Allie Gravitt is a mom of 4 and lives in metro Atlanta with a house full of animals and plants. Her debut poetry collection, prisonbreaks, and second collection Killing Ghosts are available now on Amazon. Follow Allie’s writing journey on TikTok and Instagram.