It was a mild afternoon in late October. The weather was beautiful but it was the last thing on my mind. I sat on my porch with hastily scribbled notes sitting before me while I waited for my boss to call. I answered and slowly began to read off of my sheet as my whole body trembled.
“I’ve been struggling with anxiety since my daughter was born one year ago. Recently it has been getting worse and I’ve started to have panic attacks. I need to step away for a while to focus on being a mom and work on my mental health.”
Tears began to flow.
She offered employee resources and even warned me that by quitting so soon into this new job, I wouldn’t be eligible for rehire later on. She asked if I thought I really just needed to quit or if I thought it was something we could work on, maybe switch to part time.
Through tearful eyes I mustered “I really just need to quit.”
It’s supposed to be tough in the beginning.
My daughter was two months old when I started my first job as a registered nurse. I went into this job knowing it wouldn’t be easy. I figured every new nurse went through a challenging adjustment phase in the beginning and having a young baby at home would obviously up the ante.
I’d have to say that in hindsight, challenging was an understatement. As it turns out, starting your first full time job after graduating from college is a major culture shock. Not to mention, I was still adjusting to life as a new mom. My work days were spent in an incredibly hectic environment, running around non-stop, constantly thinking, and barely having time to eat.
I would look forward to days off with so much anticipation and then they would arrive and I would feel like I couldn’t function. I was too drained to be a mom, although at the same time, all I wanted to do was fully embrace this time off with my daughter because my full-time job was causing me to miss out on so much. I wasn’t entirely confident in the daycare we chose and it felt physically painful to leave her on the days I was working.
Prior to having my daughter, I had envisioned myself taking a very intentional approach to parenting, yet decision-making as a parent now felt like quickly choosing the most convenient option. I was compromising my goals so that I could make money at a job that I really wasn’t enjoying at all.
I knew it was only the beginning so I told myself I needed to see it through and adjust to this new lifestyle, with the hopes that things would get better.
Taking action to feel better.
Nearly six months later, things weren’t feeling much better. I was starting to feel acclimated to my job a bit more, making me more confident at work, but I was still having a really tough time on my days off. I didn’t have the stamina to pour so much into my job and also pour into being a mom in the way that I wanted to, it was heartbreaking.
We were able to take my daughter out of daycare and find a great babysitter for her instead and I decided I would start looking for a different job. I was hoping that by knowing my daughter was being cared for more closely by someone we really trusted I’d be able to relax a bit more when I was away. Also, I knew most nursing jobs would be stressful in their own ways but I figured there had to be better jobs out there. I soon found a new nursing job that paid more and was at a very reputable hospital. I was really hopeful that this was the change I needed to finally feel like myself again.
Another step I took to feel better was being more intentional about having hobbies to make the most of my days off. I had recently started feeling the urge to write. I hadn’t done so since I took creative writing in college and I started a journal where I wrote down ten words every day. Since writing was bringing me a lot of joy, I decided to start telling more stories and posting them to a blog just for fun.
A couple of months into my new job, I still wasn’t feeling much better. I felt pulled in too many directions at once and now that I had a new and much better job, I felt guilty for not appreciating what I had. The reality was, my job was draining me too much to be the mom I wanted to be, leaving me feeling lost and angry. In my mind, being a mom was supposed to be my top priority, but I’d been letting my job as a nurse take the lead instead.
I had gone out of my way to make positive changes in my life to feel better, yet it still just wasn’t working.
It was not an easy pill to swallow. All signs were pointing me to quit nursing altogether but I knew that was the toughest choice of all. I had worked so hard to become a nurse and now I had a really good job where I was treated well and paid fairly (something that many nurses yearn for). I was also afraid to walk away from my consistent paycheck, since the future felt so uncertain.
Even so, my gut kept telling me I needed to quit my job. I could literally feel God pulling me in this direction and here I was fighting against it.
I had a panic attack at home one evening that left me curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor, crying uncontrollably and hyperventilating. Then only about a week later, I had another one while riding in the car with my family. These were terrifying yet incredibly eye-opening experiences and I just know that it was God speaking to me. I decided to surrender, follow my gut, and that’s what led me to that phone call with my boss.
The last place I thought I’d end up is exactly where I’m meant to be.
I didn’t feel an instant sense of relief when I quit my job. I felt scared and uncertain, but also faithful and sure of my decision. I set out to simplify my life the best that I could. I started cleaning out my home, working on my mental health, and most importantly, immersing myself in the present moment and making the most of my time with my daughter.
I still wasn’t entirely sure how I’d start making an income, but I had some time to think about it since my last nursing paycheck would cover about three month’s-worth of bills. I was still writing for my blog regularly, simply sharing stories about my life that I felt compelled to share. It always gave me a sense of satisfaction when I’d put my own words out there, with little concern over how others might interpret me.
I started a profile on Upwork and took on a few entry level copywriting jobs. My blog served as the perfect portfolio.
I’d told myself that if I wasn’t making a steady income from home within a few months, I’d go back to working as a nurse or get a job waiting tables. Although neither of those sounded ideal, I figured it would be my back up plan.
Within a few months of quitting my job, I was making enough money as a copywriter to afford my monthly expenses. It wasn’t nearly as much as I made as a nurse but it was enough, so I never had to return to work as a nurse or resort to waiting tables. I feel like with each new copywriting job I’d find, God was reassuring me;
You’re in the right place, keep going.
I hadn’t realized just how important it was to really lean into my creative side until I started my blog and started working as a copywriter. Creativity is actually a big part of who I am and by being able to make money while doing something that lights up this side of myself just makes me feel whole.
Not to mention, the flexibility of my new schedule and the fact that copywriting allows me to fully focus on my family is an invaluable benefit I’ve gained from changing my career path. I truly never would have thought that I’d end up here, yet here I am — exactly where I’m meant to be.
Many people are meant to work in a fast-paced, corporate-style work setting. I may even return to working as a nurse one day, I just know that the timing isn’t right for me right now. I’ve learned that you can’t put a price on your mental health and it is entirely worth it to walk away from a big paycheck if the work you have to do to earn a paycheck is pulling you away from living your life in the way that you’re meant to.
When I revisit the “Five-Year Plan” I made for myself back when I was getting ready to graduate from nursing school, I realize just how off course I’ve gotten and it’s one of the greatest blessings in my life.
For a long time, I was fixated on a plan with little in mind other than the amount of money I’d be making and I failed to ask myself what I truly wanted out of life. It took completely breaking down to realize that I hadn’t been authentically living my life. The more I’ve learned to understand myself, the more I’ve taken initiative to live with intention, the more whole I feel. And you truly cannot put a price on that.
Figure out what matters most to you and prioritize that over everything else. I promise, if you work hard at anything it will pay off eventually.
THE AUTHOR: Sophia Metrakos
Sophia Metrakos is a registered nurse turned freelance copywriter who writes blog posts for a variety of niches including health, wellness, and parenting topics. In her free time, she enjoys soaking up every sweet little moment with her two-year-old daughter and newborn baby boy, while also writing for her own blog, Wisdom & Wellness.