What plane did I want to jump out of next?
My day job has been killing me softly, what with the two hour commute, the lack of time with my kids, my complete inability to keep from staring off into space instead of looking at my computer screen.
I've been MISERABLE at work.
"I'm not an office manager," I told David. "I'm a writer. Which means I should probably get off my ass and maybe, you know, WRITE."
"So when do you see yourself making that happen? Tomorrow? Next month? Or when your kids' kids will be there to see it?" David asked. "In all seriousness, you have to be ready. Sometimes it's just a seasonal thing."
That actually struck a chord with me because every time I leave the house I pass the pool in our complex, where we spent every possible waking moment last summer. I've had a hard time imagining myself driving by that pool all summer knowing I'll barely ever get to take my kids swimming because I'll be stuck at my DAY JOB. I haven't been able to wrap my head around that and I explained as much to David. That I'd be ready to jump ship when my kids were out of school.
"So," he said. "You've just MADE the decision. Don't worry about it until summer. Just sit with it until then."
Decision made, I hung up with David and walked back into the restaurant glowing like I'd just swallowed a radioactive spider.
"He totally nailed me in 45 minutes!" I told Joel in that hyperactive, Speedy Gonzales voice I get when I'm excited.
"Damn," he said. "It usually takes me at least an hour."*
I spent the rest of the weekend in the shiny, happy glow of resolution.
Because I was still going to have to sit at my desk for another five months KNOWING full well I was planning to quit, and faking every minute of it. I knew this was going to be a problem. Amanda Del Buono was an EXPERT actress. She could fake her way through anything. But Amanda P. Westmont? Not anymore.
So on Monday, still swimming deep in denial, I wasted most of the morning at work goofing off. Joel and I are working on a super! rad! writing project together and we were in the middle of a heated creative disagreement when my boss called me into her office to let me know that she'd caught me closing out my computer screens every time she walked by my desk. I blushed**, admitted I'd been "checking my e-mail" and tried to fake my way through it.
I hated myself for it.
By the time noon rolled around and I could leave for my daily moment of zen down by the river, I felt resolved to give my notice within the week. Forget about me and my stupid dreams, I was letting someone else down. Someone I respect a whole lot.
I finished my work day and bolstered my courage to talk to my boss the next morning. I wish I could share with you the series of text messages and phone calls between me and the baldman during that 24 hours, but they are far too close to my heart.
If you watched that Brene Brown video, you'll understand why I did what I did next. I did it all on purpose. Brene did a lot of research on vulnerability, connection and what she describes as being "wholehearted." She found that wholehearted people have four things in common:
1. The COURAGE to be imperfect.
2. The COMPASSION to be kind to themselves first and then to others. (Because it turns out we can't practice compassion for anyone else if we can't treat ourselves kindly.)
3. They have a CONNECTION to others as a result of authenticity. Truly connected people "were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were."
4. They fully embraced VULNERABILITY.
Another excellent point of hers kept repeating itself over and over again in my psyche: "We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on other people, but what they really need is for you to be authentic and real and say, 'We're sorry. We'll fix it.'"
So Tuesday morning, I got to work, made coffee, fumbled around and waited for the right opportunity to tell my boss my truth. When I opened up my to do list and found a note in there asking me ever so politely to please turn off the instant-messaging function of my gmail account, my moment had come.
I walked into her office, sat down, looked her in the face and said:
"Let's face it: I SUCK at this job. I mean, I'm really REALLY bad at it. I'm a writer, not an office manager and I'm never going to be good at it because my heart isn't in it. You need to replace me."
She looked at me like I was speaking Greek, so I went on. Naturally.
"You caught me completely screwing around yesterday. That was total bullshit and you deserve better. I'm really sorry."
We talked for another ten or twenty minutes and the amazing thing is that even after I took complete responsibility for fucking up on the job and slacking, my boss insisted I stay on for 10 hours a week to do her marketing for her. "But you're so good at that stuff!"
Even now it makes me laugh in amazement.
I went in there with no motive other than to tell the truth. To admit how spectacularly I had FAILED. To finally jump out of that plane and become a writer intead of just talking about it.
I had $42 in the bank when I quit my job.***
I wish I was the type of girl who could stop herself from bragging about how awesome that morning felt, but we all know I'm not. I have never been more proud of myself. I can still feel this decision in my cells, terrifying and wonderful, like all good things, but so intense it's almost like it altered my DNA or something. It feels THAT right.
Authenticity, eh? Who knew?
*He didn't actually say that - he saved it for an e-mail he sent to David Bedrick the next day - but man, I wish he had!
** When I blushed, she said, "Your face is RED!" Yeah, that helped.
*** I got paid the next day, but it's still fun to say that.
Stay tuned for Part Three, in which I explain how I plan to swing this thing financially!