One job I turned down

It’s been 10 months since I launched the overhaul of my life. No, that upheaval was not a haircut (yet). In fact, a haircut would have been quite minor compared to the upheaval to which I subjected myself. Rather than going for an a la carte menu item, I opted for the full, five-course dinner of change. It included work, relationships, priorities, philosophy of life, location.

I’d spent a decade in newspaper journalism, a career that came so naturally to me, I didn’t even realize I had chosen a career. I got paid to talk to people, research and write about it all. Even the writing style suited me — get to the point and move on, rather than fussing with those “rough draft” things. (True story: As far back as elementary school, when we had to turn in both rough and final drafts, I had to go back and create a rough draft after the fact.)

Last year, after a lot of unrest, I quit my job. I went on a road trip, and then I sat down to search for a new career. A lot of amazing people began giving me tips on possible job leads. One of them was at an Internet journalism conglomerate, and I could have been employed immediately. Since I’d been making so little money previously, this would have been a slight step up the pay scale. But I knew I wouldn’t be happy.

I was right. If I’d taken that gig, here’s where I would be now: back at the starting point, writing a piece about “AOL Hell.”

Instead, I refused to settle. I refused to go back down the path that had led me to the breaking point last August. That “AOL Hell” article was published two weeks ago, when I was in the middle of a trip to Alaska — an amazing, fun trip that in all likelihood would not have been possible if I’d taken the AOL reporting gig.

Since I began redefining my life 10 months ago, I’ve never once had any regrets. Life is too short for you to be miserable; if you’re not happy, start making changes. But don’t do it simply by shifting from standing on one foot to the other, as I would have done if I’d taken the AOL gig. Take a step forward. Then, when you realize that you’re still standing, take another step.

And then take a flying leap with both feet. You’ll land with your head up.

7 Responses to One job I turned down

  1. I’ve only started doing rough drafts (kind of) as an adult, and only because the “business” writing style at my job is sometimes so foreign to my brain that I can’t make it work right the first time.

    Also: I love this post, and I’m saving it to read over and over again, until I maybe work up the nerve to jump, too. Thank you.

    • I’ve had the same thing with business writing — I have to make a conscious effort now to include some extra words that would have been considered “unnecessary jargon” in my former life.

  2. Avatar famousamy
    famousamy says:

    This blog entry reminded me of your change when I read it recently:

    I’m heading towards that next step too.. but with the kids and Ross I have to have a few things in place first. It won’t be long though.. not if I can help it.

    • That blog entry is great! I don’t see myself selling everything that won’t fit in my car, but the philosophy is the same — she found her own way to happiness. And yes, having a husband and two young children means taking a different approach, too. But no way is right or wrong, and it all comes down to finding the things that matter to ourselves.

      I don’t go around telling people to quit their job, because that’s not practical or realistic for most. Though I hadn’t planned on actually quitting until shortly before the words came out of my mouth, I was at a point where I could do it without winding up homeless.

  3. Very interesting article! I actually used to think blogging about TV shows would be a dream job… CLEARLY I was wrong. I do read a lot of TV recaps and I’m always impressed with how thorough they are and how quickly they are posted. Should be no surprise that the authors don’t sleep.

    Good for you, Layla! Thanks for sharing your journey with us :) Keep making smart choices! 😉

    • Most TV recaps are written by volunteers who simply love to talk about the show and interact with people who share a common interest. The job I was offered wouldn’t have been TV writing, since that’s not my forte, but it was for the same company. I find it interesting that the author never mentioned the name, other than parent company AOL. Maybe it was part of an agreement he signed when he took the job.

  4. Avatar Kristen
    Kristen says:

    I love this post. I am so happy for you that you found the courage to change your situation when you weren’t happy. The majority of people would not have been so brave. No doubt it is scary, but as I am sure you are finding out you will be so much happier in the long run.