Ten years ago on May 19, I quit my job.
But quitting my job was not about spiting the world of work, or giving a middle finger to the recession, or proving to the people around me that I was “bigger than” the work I was being given a chance to do.
Quitting my job 10 years ago was for beginnings, I now understand, not endings.
The first beginning that I wanted when I quit my job was to begin to feel better.
The second beginning that I wanted was to begin to figure out who I really was.
The third beginning was to begin to walk my own path.
The fourth beginning was to feel like my life mattered.
The fifth beginning was to do some good in the world in some way.
The sixth beginning was to get a publishing deal and to write a good book that helped people.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but despite “beginnings one through five” representing the most clear and obvious priorities — inner wellness, self-knowledge, healing, and surviving coming before all else in this world — I staked everything on that sixth beginning, my book publishing dream, instead.
Even though it was a glaring mistake, putting all of my hopes for healing onto a book project was the most convenient distraction from the daunting inner work that I was really facing a decade ago.
It was also an easy fixation because it was one that I thought society and people around me might understand and even encourage — after all, publishing a book was a career aim; it was a lofty ambition and a socially lauded goal that I thought others would be more likely to accept.
Telling everyone that I had quit my job because I was overwhelmed or hurting or feeling lost didn’t feel like a real option; instead, it felt shameful.
Telling myself that I needed to quit the world of work as I had known it because I was sad and confused felt shameful, too.
I could barely admit to myself, let alone anyone else, that I quit my job to feel better and to figure out who I really was and to find a way to walk my own path in life.
So, instead, I transposed all of those vital inner priorities onto an external, tangible outcome — for me, it was a book — through which I hoped that all the rest, from my depression to my crisis of identity, would somehow magically get fixed.
As it turned out, I didn’t land the publishing deal and didn’t write the book that I aspired to write.
And thank the Goddess that I didn’t.
Because even if my expressed goal was to write a book, I was really hoping beyond hope to somehow fall into feeling better without doing all of the uncomfortable inner work that was required. My priorities were misplaced. I wanted a shortcut. I hoped that I might somehow be able to “skip ahead.”
Unsurprisingly, I hit wall after wall in pursuit of my false-priorities. Today, I’ll tell you that we cannot and will not accomplish our inner work, or begin to heal our wounds, or endeavor into deeply knowing our true selves, by staking it all on an outer, external anything.
(It doesn’t work like that. It never does. It cannot.)
Because I never got the publishing deal that I hoped would help me fix all the inner struggles and questions and doubts that I was avoiding, I eventually resorted to working on “beginnings one through five.”
Everything that I have done in the years since has run through beginnings one through five — the true priorities, my soul-priorities, the work within my inner world, which I now understand must come first and before the outer world can follow.
Now a decade on, “beginnings one through five” are no longer beginnings, so to speak, but ongoing and lifelong and lived-in practices that support me daily. They now exist as the centerpieces of the self-knowledge work that I continually reside within and practice. I know that I have to prioritize them over every other external object, outlet, or goal, every single day.
And, now, more than 10 years later, with my inner priorities straight and focused, I finally feel comfortable and confident to return to that “sixth beginning.”
(But this time, I hope, for all the right reasons.)
My Super Secret Project, Revealed
On social media, I’ve been lightly teasing out a “super secret project” for months. This week, and to mark the 10-year anniversary of (not quitting my job, but) my pursuit of new beginnings, I’m excited to reveal that my “super secret project” is indeed the sixth beginning that I desired when I first quit my job 10 years ago:
Honoring my dream of landing a publishing deal and writing a good book that helps people.
Since last December, I have been actively engaged in the process of pursuing that six beginning — a dream that I had almost entirely left behind in recent years. Over the last five months, I have written a 143-page treatment for a nonfiction book and, with the guidance and support of a literary agent whom I queried and with whom I’ve struck up a relationship for these months, have been revising it to perfection ever since.
If everything continues to progress as steadily as it has, we may very well begin to pitch the project to book publishers as soon as within the next few weeks.
Going the traditional publishing route to becoming an author has been a dream of mine for a long time, despite my misplaced priorities a full decade ago. And even though this is still very much an as-of-yet unfinished process — which is why I’ve been a bit hesitant to share it at all — the reasons why I want to share this active and ongoing journey with you is exactly because not everything in my life, work, or inner world is being staked out on the outcome or end result of this book publishing pursuit.
Ten years after quitting my job, I’m finally ready to return to that six and final beginning. I’m excited to see what unfolds from here.
To you, my reader, I also want to say thank you.
Whether you’ve found your way onto this newsletter by a chance Google search or you’ve been here since the earliest days of my decade-long journey as a writer, thank you for being here.
I write for many reasons, but one of the most rewarding reasons is having the opportunity to exchange a moment with you, wherever you are in the world. I believe that even silent words on a page (or a computer or phone screen) are a way for our souls to meet without ever having actually spoken.
I hope that, as our souls meet, yours feels even the smallest amount more seen, witnessed, appreciated, loved, understood, and supported.
That is ultimately why I share my words. You are a major motivation for the writing work that I have done over the last decade.
I hope to continue to earn that privilege for the next decade to come.