I quit my job in March 2016, around 7 months ago. It was a decision born out of deliberation and exhaustion.
Even though I worked from home teaching online, I realized that I couldn’t keep up the work-at-home-mom lifestyle anymore.
It was killing me: killing my energy, my personality, my joy, my peace of mind, and my relationships with my family.
So I finished my final class, graded my last paper, wrote my resignation and became a full-time stay-at-home-mom, a role I hadn’t played for 8 years.
And the months that have followed have been an interesting, eye-opening journey of self-discovery.
Here’s 6 truths I’ve learned since quitting my job 7 months ago:
1. It was sad
Since quitting my job in March, numerous people have congratulated me for my decision.
“No,” I corrected them. “I’m actually really sad about it. I quit because the stress was killing me and I needed to focus more on my family. So not really…congratulations.”
Yes, there was relief, but I mostly felt down in the dumps for a few months. I was mourning the career I worked so hard for. It was really sad. But being sad was okay.
2. Embracing a new identity takes time
I always got a warm glow when I wrote “Adjunct Instructor” on those doctors or school forms you have to fill out for your kids. Writing “homemaker” on the line that asked for “Mother’s Occupation” kicked me in the gut the first few times.
Seven months later, I’m a bit more comfortable being “just” a stay-at-home-mom and I know there are a million and one reasons why that’s the best role for me right now. But, to be really, really honest, embracing a new identity, even if it is just on a piece of paper, took a bit of time.
3. Meaningful work is essential to happiness
After much soul-searching, prayer, and brainstorming, I started a new blog that is filling up the hours that used to be consumed with grading (Want to know more about this new project? Please visit Mothering Beyond Expectations!)
The funny thing is, as creator and editor of this new collective blog, I’m doing a lot of the same things I was doing as an online professor: emailing, editing, helping people become better writers, and meeting deadlines.
But it feels so different. It feels purposeful and meaningful, probably because the work I am doing is speaking truth into the world, instead of just dealing with plagiarism or grading (another) essay on “The Road Not Taken.”
I need purposeful, meaningful work in my life (don’t we all?). It isn’t that being a homemaker or stay-at-home-mom isn’t enough; it’s that I need something beyond that to fulfill my happiness as a person. Finding a new avenue to invest in the lives of others has been so satisfying.
4. Stress is not inevitable
When I quit my job, I thought that my stress level would dramatically drop. The odd thing is that it didn’t, at least not right away.
I found myself wanting to transfer my “work stress” into “kid stress” or “blog stress” when there was really nothing I “needed” to be stressed about. I was just used to being stressed and didn’t know how to deal with not having something to stress about.
Gradually, with time, purposeful rest, and developing new routines, I was able to unlearn my habit of stress.
My life still has stressful moments (I still have four kids) but by getting rid my main stressor (teaching online), I can deal with my every day stresses in a much healthier way.
Stress doesn’t have to be a way of life. I wish I had known that a long time ago.
5. Being happier makes me a better mom and wife
Now that I’m not working anymore, my afternoons are filled with writing and editing instead of grading. Writing and blogging makes me happy, plain and simple.
Focusing more on my writing and investing in the lives of women through both my personal and collective blogs has really boosted my happiness.
The satisfaction of doing something I love then spills over into my relationships. It’s a lot easier to be a happy mom and wife when I am a happy woman first, doing the things that make me feel like me.
6. Doing something meaningful doesn’t always make you money.
As any stay-at-home-mom will tell you, it would be nice to get a paycheck for all we do, but that’s not why we do our best day after day. Love is the motivation, payment, and the prize. It is enough.
It’s the same with my two blogs. Sure, it would be nice to make money from my writing but I’m finally accepting that I can still be and call myself a “writer” without having the paycheck to validate my work.
Encouraging women, helping people grow, finding satisfaction in writing something beautiful and meaningful, realizing that readers are connecting to my words, and the words of the writers I work with—there is so much good, so much meaning, so much value in that. It is enough.
As an online professor, I was putting my best work in but getting my worst self back. It wasn’t worth it anymore. I had to quit to find out who I really wanted and needed to be. It was hard and sad and it took time to recreate my identity and reduce my stress.
But, 7 months later, I’m in a good place. I’m finding what makes me happy. I’m doing work that brings me joy and significance but not stress.
I’m focusing on being the wife and mom that I need to be.
I’m becoming the Me I was created to be and that’s a really, really great place to be.
What about you? How you happy? Are you stressed? What can you do today to pursue the life that you were created to live?
Share your story below!