a sharp left
For years, YEARS, I encouraged women to take risks and sharp lefts on their careers, relationships and living situations. I listened to stories about quitting jobs, traveling solo through the world, dumping guys that just weren’t right, launching businesses, changing styles, doing anything different. Alongside my business partner, Rachel, we collected and published these narratives on an online magazine named Quarterlette.com inviting other women to read them and feel encouraged by what someone else did, realized or experienced. We wanted to change perspectives and inspire new lives.
And while all these other women took leaps, I stayed safe and cozy at my remote, full-time marketing job making “bank”, rocking leggings, enjoying the security of healthcare and 8% of my paycheck going to a matched, fully-vested 401K, sometimes taking advantage of paid vacation days and pulling my hair out over my inbox being flooded with urgent requests day in and day out. I would say that photography was just a hobby, a means to explore my city, create owned images for Quarterlette and a tactic to make friends, but really all I wanted to do was take photos.
And so I did. I would raise my hand to take photos at non-profit events and gift sessions to engaged friends and new parents. Eventually people started to pay me so I would take days off to photograph conferences, rush off to gigs after work, spend weekends hopping from session to session and pass my evenings editing while watching crap TV.
I knew I was miserable working from home in DC and moonlighting, but I was not ready to give up the comforts (a huge one bedroom that was central to everywhere I needed to be in DC, a well-stocked savings account, guilt-free impulse purchases, etc.). So I made a deal with myself. I’d get a job based in DC, keep taking photos and see if that would end my crying at my desk.
It did. I loved my new creative agency. It gave me a place to go every day and a reason to wash my hair. I always walked the half hour to and from work - sunshine, rain, snow or heat wave - to ensure a healthy dose of vitamin D. They let me explore big ideas, respected my opinions and packed on responsibilities. They discovered I did photography on the side and started assigning me internal and external shoots. I was enthusiastic and drinking the Kool-Aid. Just as I always do, I threw myself into the job, putting every ounce of mental energy I could muster, giving it late nights and weekends and tossing through the stress dreams (the ones where my flight is in half an hour and I haven’t even packed). It was fantastic and if I wanted to climb that ladder, I would have held on tight and plowed through to the top.
This is where I make that sharp left. It finally hit me. If I was going to expend my whole being, lose sleep over a job, and have sweaty palms, it had to be for photography. With firm plans to leave DC and move north to live with my boyfriend, I had been researching agencies and corporations with marketing jobs open. I had my resume updated and feelers out. And then I grabbed the wheel and screeched into a new direction.
I now call this blog #roamthefield because that’s kind of what I’m doing - following through on a delayed quarter-life crisis and feeling my way through establishing a new career in my thirties (I often wish I was doing this at 22, but in reality I was so immature back then that this timing is for the best). I am finally letting all the advice from those Quarterlette stories sink in, admitting that this is what I want and working damn hard to achieve it. I also accept that this is where I am right now - a city girl living in a new small town who often feels like it would be easier to run back to a regular paycheck and like I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall every day to see what works.