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#6: I Quit My Job to Pursue my Passion

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Welcome welcome WELCOME my friends and fellow busybees. I hope you are all doing well and had a wonderful week. I have… some big news. Well, big in my world at least, and I hope you’ll join in on my excitement!

I…. quit my 9-5 job to go ALL IN on MelDidItHerself and my related projects. That’s right. I said bye bye to the cushy job to pursue my passion and the thing that gets me excited to get up every day. What a freakin’ dream to be able to say, amirite? This is still feeling a bit surreal.

And hang tight because the purpose of this episode isn’t to just be tooting my own horn and getting all high and mighty about a choice that I made, because since I have made this decision and have begun telling people in my life about it, I have been learning some big things about us as humans and our psychology, and I want to share some of my thoughts on it.

But first, I want to back up and get a little more personal with you, because first of all, I want us to be friends so I think it’s nice to know a little bit about the person behind the voice or being the account if you follow me on my MelDidItHerself social media accounts. And, I want to tell you about my beginnings and what led me to the point of being in a job that ultimately ticked all of the boxes that I thought needed ticking, but yet was still left feeling a bit unfulfilled and yearning for something more and something different.

So, I’ve always kind of felt like I needed to climb to the next best thing, and move my way up the ladder. I think a lot of us have felt that way, really. When I first graduated from my post-secondary programs, I was working as a shelter support worker in transitional housing for female youth, and I was mainly working evenings and weekends because… shout out to those casual contract social work shifts.

And that was really working for me for awhile, until I decided that I’d like to have a more normal schedule and work during the day, so I then got a job as a frontline worker at a men’s homeless shelter. And that was a great experience, I had so much personal and professional growth in that context and really learned a ton about boundary setting, de-escalation tactics and other helpful skills for going into the social work field. I also met some really great lifelong friends at that job, aaaand fun fact, met my husband there. And for the record, he was a fellow staff member and not a client, because that’s always the follow-up question.

So I got a ton of value and enjoyment out of that job, but again it was working shift work so they were 12-hour long shifts, and every two weeks I would be working nights. So then, again, I started to crave a more stable schedule that was a little bit more business-oriented in more of a case management capacity. So then I worked at a health center as a housing case manager for Indigenous youth, and this was probably the most rewarding job I’ve held to date. I loved working with youth in their teens and early twenties and being able to make a true impact on their lives and help them to achieve the goals I knew they were capable of. Some of you may know that I am part Mohawk, so working in this setting with Indigenous colleagues and clients was also super impactful for me in reconnecting with and learning about my culture, and I really cherished the teachings I was getting in that space.

But then, I started yearning again and thought, what more can I climb to? And I thought- well, I do live in Ottawa, a government job sounds pretty safe and stable- and definitely better paying than non-profit work. So then I made that climb, and within that setting kept climbing up to the title that made sense next on the ladder to… the ladder to, what? I wasn’t quite sure. And then when I obtained the role that I had set my eyes on as the goal to climb to when I entered that world, it somehow didn’t feel any different. Like, aren’t you supposed to feel accomplished and warm and fuzzy and all those good things?

So then I found myself at a bit of a crossroads, and I think it’s a crossroads that many of us feel but not enough of us talk about. When you look ahead and think, I have HOW many years left of this before I retire? And then if you’re anything like me, that starts to make you feel a little hot and clammy and your throat tightens EVER SO slightly at the thought.

And I started to think, what would my ideal days look like? What do I enjoy doing, and how do I love to spend my time, that also can bring in money? What makes me feel fulfilled and accomplished and happy and helpful? What gets me, someone who values her sleep so deeply, to wake up 3 hours early before work starts every morning? What has me out in a minus 22 degree Celsius garage in thin gloves, hunched over, sanding a dresser in the middle of a Canadian winter, or has me vigorously scrubbing out an old hutch in the hot sun dripping with sweat in the summer, with a smile on my face? The answer was my furniture painting and refinishing business that I had been growing locally and online for the last 2+ years.

The thought of being able to pursue this work full-time was absolutely a daydream that I hardly even dared think about a year or so ago because the possibility of it felt lifetimes away. But slowly over time, I began to grow my community, my capabilities, my knowledge base, my understanding of all things business and marketing and content creation and self-development and simultaneously, the income I was seeing coming in from this business continued to increase, even while only dedicating part-time hours to it.

Now, was it income that matched or exceeded the income I was making at my 9-5? Certainly not. And was there a pension guaranteed and waiting for me at the end of this entrepreneurial path? Nope, probably not. And is anything guaranteed in this life? Honestly, not really, which is something that ultimately helped me to make this decision to jump in feet first. Because if we look at how crazy the last 2 years have been in the world, and the drastic changes we are seeing in the environment, in politics, in the economy and beyond - I don’t think anyone really fucking knows what’s going on, and what’s going to happen, you know? So why not shoot my shot and see what I’ve got up my sleeve for this self-employment journey.

While I was reflecting on what I wanted to talk about for this episode, I recalled a conversation I had with a group of friends of mine last summer, so about a year ago today, and we were playing a game called Big Talk that I love to whip out at cottage weekends around a bonfire or over a round of drinks because I love getting to the nitty gritty with friends and learning more about them instead of just sticking to the small talk things like the weather and what reality TV show they’re watching lately.

And anyways, one of the questions that was asked in this Big Talk game was something along the lines of “if you were to win a bunch of money but still had to work for a living, what would be your dream of what to do for work?” And I asked everyone in the group and we got some really interesting and insightful answers, and then someone asked the question back to me and I kind of paused, because I hadn’t been thinking of my answer. And I just kind of blurted out the first thing that came to my mind that I would want to continue to do, regardless of if I needed to make money doing it or not, and it was painting and refinishing furniture. I can’t remember if I said I would just have a full-time business doing it or if I said having a store selling my refinished furniture, but it was ultimately where my heart was, even at that time.

And then came another year of working a 9-5 job, learning new things but never anything that really got my juices flowin’ and excitement and passion brewing. And, I don’t know if you heard about it, but we also had this thing called a pandemic over the last couple of years which kind of very largely impacted like.. All of us, so there was that to take into consideration too. It was two years that were kind of just robbed from all of us, two years of missing out on stuff.

And since my husband and I were a couple of DINKs during that time (DINKs being Double Income No Kids), we finally had some disposable income and the steady jobs with paid holidays to be able to go out into the world and do some exploring and enjoy our late 20s before the responsibility of pets and kids and running around doing endless errands kicked in. And instead, we were told that it was unsafe to leave our houses, and that if we wanted to visit with our loved ones, it had to be over FaceTime or through a closed window for two years straight. So all in all, that was kinda shitty, to say the least.

So I won’t lie, I know that some people suffered incredibly during that time and lost loved ones and my heart absolutely goes out to anyone that was impacted in that way, but I’m also not one for comparative suffering. And I can feel robbed of that time of my life for reasons that may seem insignificant or mundane to you, but that still feel very missing and real to me. And I bet there’s some of you out there that are feeling similarly, because I know that some of my friends in my friends group have expressed feeling similarly when I’ve talked about this. And it’s okay to feel that way, but when I reflected on it, I was like “do I want to just feel unhappy and dissatisfied with this, or do I want to take it as a lesson learned and change the way I move forward as a result?”.

Because who knows what the future brings, and if there will ever be that “right moment” to take on that project you’ve been nurturing in your brain for the last 5 years, or when everyone’s schedules will finally align to be able to take that big family trip you’ve been hoping to go on. In order to make these dreams of ours happen and see if we are able to reach our own expectations of ourselves, we need to give it the old college try and take action to progress towards them. And for me, that meant quitting the steady job with the safe bi-weekly deposit into my bank account that covered the bills and left me with a bit of fun money and savings at the end of the month. Leaving behind health benefits, life insurance and a dental plan in search of enjoyment, fulfilment and meaning working for myself, building up my business and brand, and working with my hands doing something I get satisfaction from every day. Again, what a freakin’ cool thing to be able to say!

But what I was alluding to at the beginning of this episode was the things I have been hearing from others ever since I have begun letting people know of my decision, both online on my social platforms and in person to my family, friends and colleagues. To be honest, I was ready for a ton of questions and shocked looks from people when I told them what I was deciding to do, with questions like “what if it doesn’t work out?” “are you sure that’s what you want to do?” and with some statistics about how many businesses fail within their first few years or something like that, and I was ready with all of the necessary answers.

But something surprising happened, and it has been SO eye opening. The amount of love, support and excitement I have gotten from those around me has been more heartwarming and encouraging than I could even begin to describe. I have gotten so many messages from people and words of encouragement that have been such fuel to my fire in the best kind of way. But another thing I have observed is a lot of people almost getting emotional over it, and telling me about the thing they have always loved to do and would have loved to be able to do as their job or business.

I have heard stories of people who had dreams like I had, who then got bogged down in the monotony of the everyday and then blinked and 20 years had passed. Stories of people who had a passion and they started to dip their toe into it, but then children came and the responsibilities and financial requirements that come with it. Women who were, and are, capable and driven and knowledgeable that ended up as single mothers, and couldn’t afford to take a risk and give up the consistent paycheque of their 9-5 job.

And who could blame them? I absolutely acknowledge what a privilege it is to be able to do something like this, to have the money saved as a backup plan in the case that I need to dip into it to supplement my income, and to have a husband who does have that good, consistent income that we know we can rely on… and frankly, having a partner who is encouraging and supportive of me pursuing something like this and believing in me and what I feel I can accomplish is truly a privilege as well, and one that I know not everybody gets to experience.

So I have takeaways from this that I wanted to document as reminders to look back on as I move forward with this chapter on my journey and in business: Number one, I’m doing this and I’m going all in on it, hard, because there are so many women who never got the chance, or never took the chance, and I don’t want to end up with the regret I’m seeing and hearing from them. And for those who are sitting around daydreaming about being able to pursue something like this one day, I want it to be an inspiration and something tangible that you can look at and be like “if she can do it, I can do it too!” because that is EXACTLY what led me here.

And if nothing else, just look at it like this: we are all just humans on this earth, little insignificant specs of dust in the wind, and we are the main character of our own lives, and our own lives only. So why not take the chance, be what you believe is the best version of yourself and pursue what you think you’re capable of doing, and what you know you love to do?

So, when this podcast episode first launches, I will be working my second last day of work before launching into my self-employment journey as of July 11th. I am so excited to be taking this next step and living out something that seemed so out of reach not all that long ago, and I hope you are there cheering me on too and taking inspiration to follow whatever passion or goal you have set for yourself. If you want to keep up with my journey more, I will be posting more on my Instagram in posts but also in my stories, and my TikTok account is always where you will get the most raw and unfiltered content, updates and just day-to-day behind the scenes stuff so feel free to join me over there, the accounts are all @MelDidItHerself.

And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.

So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is: The only impossible journey is the one you never begin. Alright, I know this one is a little bit more corny than usual, but it is SO true. The only time you are ever guaranteed to fail, is when you don’t even attempt the thing. If you don’t try, you’re not even giving yourself the option of succeeding… and being Canadian, I feel it’s also necessary to quote the great Wayne Gretzky who said "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take".

And just for good measure, how about a third? Because I think it's really relevant to what we were talking about earlier about always wanting to climb and get to the next best thing and always trying to climb that ladder. I was listening to one of Brené Brown's podcasts, probably Dare to Lead because they were talking about work, and somebody said: "It's not whether you'll get to the top of the ladder, it's whether the ladder is pushed up against the right building".

I just want that to sink in for a moment and have you reflect on which building you have your ladder leaning against. I think so often we move forward with the next best thing on the path that we're on and don't often think about veering off of that path. And as I move forward- and I veered HARD, let me tell you- I am so looking forward to seeing what that path looks like and I hope you'll stick around to find out with me.

Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!

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