How Leaving Corporate America Was the Best Decision I Ever Made
In 2009, I graduated from Ohio State University, three months pregnant. It was smack in the middle of a recession and every other recent college grad was fighting over the same $10 per hour jobs as I was. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best time to graduate college and land your dream job.
Playing with the Devil
When I graduated, I knew I had to land a job quickly as I had a new baby on the way. It was all about landing a corporate job that would pay well and support my small family at the time. At 23, I was focused on living the scripted life. I grew up as a millennial who was part of the first generation to have access to social media. It wasn’t quite time for people to start making a living doing what they loved, creating content online in their preferred niche.
It was all about graduating and getting that sweet job in corporate America. You know, the one that would make you a million dollars so you could buy fast cars, have a nice house, and live a materialistic lifestyle with your family? Does reading that line make you cringe? It makes me cringe now because of the false picture I had in my head of what would bring me happiness.
Corporate America called my name
Then it happened, I landed my first job in corporate America. I remember that first week feeling so surprised at how much it felt like a prison. I had to hang a sign up on my desk that said I was on break, couldn’t have any of my possessions out, no access to a phone, you get the idea.
Fast forward from there, I landed several more promotions over my 11-year stint in corporate America, thinking I was living the American dream. Every new promotion I received came with plenty of congratulations that were reinforcing a false narrative I had that I was doing the right thing. And let me tell you what, those congratulations certainly came with a dark side. There’s a reason the phrase “golden handcuffs” exists.
Corporate life had a hold on me
From the time I was young, I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. Forge my own path. I certainly was blinded by living the scripted life for a while when I entered corporate America. Sure, there were times that were better than others, and having lots of friends at work certainly made it more bearable, but it wasn’t who I was made to be. I learned that lesson the hard way.
The corporate world is certainly not for the faint of heart. Business is business and no company is there to hold your hand every day throughout your career. Success looks a lot of different ways but in my experience in that world, it was often measured by your title and how much money you made. Two things that I was so sick of chasing day after day. There certainly was a ton of pressure at all times.
Anxiety and the corporate life
As the years progressed, I felt a sense of anxiety that I couldn’t get rid of. This deep, dark pull seemed to dictate how my days would go. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it because I kept getting promoted and congratulated for the work that I was doing.
I was a huge success to everyone on the outside. On the inside, I was miserable with spending my days in an office, confined to set work hours and countless meetings that could have been handled by a phone call or email. Something had to change.
And then it happened
In 2021, after strategizing for about a year on how to finally quit my job, an opportunity popped up that allowed me to pursue leaving corporate America. I was so excited and so nervous at the same time. For my whole adult life, it had been my safety net. It had been everything I ever knew and over the course of a month, I got to kiss it goodbye.
So many emotions took over from fear to excitement, to anger, and everything in between. Ultimately, I felt so good that quitting was the option that meant freedom.
What happened after leaving corporate America
For the last few years of my professional stint, I had experienced an insane amount of health issues on top of the anxiety and unhappiness I was feeling. Sure, some of them were related to what I had going on in my life at the time, but others were so unexplainable. I was doing everything I could to take care of myself but still had health issues.
On top of that, I was really worried about how I would replace the six-figure income I had grown accustomed to, not to mention the benefits. Again, golden handcuffs. My fiance and I had started a business helping other individuals and companies around town so, I knew it was my only shot to make up the income as quickly as I could. Starting a business isn’t the easiest thing but we certainly enjoy having it!
My health drastically improved after leaving corporate America
Slow and steady, my health drastically improved. Some of the day-to-day issues I was experiencing had magically disappeared. I felt lighter, healthier, and freer than ever before. I didn’t have to log in to the same system every day, answer to office politics, and wish my days looked differently. I had more energy to do the things I loved, no matter what day of the week it was!
I have more meaningful time with family
One of the biggest plus sides to leaving corporate America was the ability to spend every moment I wanted with my family. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of the day, or taking and picking up my kids from school. I’ve always been a hands-on mom that doesn’t want to miss precious moments of being there for my kids. Running my own show in the entrepreneurial life allowed me to have so many more meaningful moments where it mattered most.
Weekends are whenever I want
A Saturday on a Tuesday? No problem! With the flexibility of being an entrepreneur comes the flexibility of having weekends whenever I want. It’s my decision to take a Tuesday off or work on a Saturday and I absolutely love that. I’ve never believed in having standard hours, especially working in eight-hour blocks at a time.
My creative brain likes to work in surges at all hours of the day, whenever I feel like it. Luckily, for the first time, my work enables me to do that. I also believe the corporate world could allow doing that more than they do but they’re just not there yet.
I replaced my six-figure income in a few months
I know this one isn’t always true for most. It can be really hard to replace your income so quickly as an entrepreneur but I was bound and determined to make it happen. Within a few months of leaving corporate America, I had replaced what I was earning and only worked a fraction of the time I had been. I couldn’t believe the control I had over my work life. This came from a combination of our business and my passion as a freelance professional writer.
My work became what I loved and had hoped for
For so many years, I wished, hoped, and prayed that my work would turn into a full-time writing career. I spent a lot of time in the digital world, blogging on the side while in my corporate life but was never able to do it full-time. I’m sure this is because of the fear I had that I couldn’t be without my corporate job.
It was fun to be in startup mode while doing what I wanted and being my own boss. I took the leap and really leaned in to trust the process. I often think about how I wish I would have done this years ago but I’m the type of person that believes everything happens in the exact time it’s supposed to.
Summary – leaving corporate America
Overall, I’m thrilled to be living such a different life now, the life I was always made to live. I love working and playing by my own rules. I appreciate every moment so much more now and love being my own boss. When I quit that world, I really began living. I don’t need a team around me or a position with a big title.
My security now comes from the freedom and happiness I feel running my own show and creating my own pay.
I feel so free and love that I get to work in the writing industry now. It provides such self-reassurance and happiness for not only me but everyone around me as well.
If you’re considering leaving corporate America as I did, don’t listen to made-up stories in your head about why you can’t. I’m the first person to tell you you can. Jump into it and don’t fear leaving. It was the best decision I made for a number of reasons. It’s your story and it’s up to you to decide, what will you do to create the life you want?
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