On February 12th, 2001, Ger and I got engaged.
On February 12th, 2016, we learned that Iris had no heartbeat at 16 weeks, 1 day.
And on February 12th, 2021, I had my last day at a job I have been at for 15 years.
So the day seems to have been marked as one of “life-altering events” in my life.
The decision to leave my job was one I pondered for many months. I have been working for a loan management software company since I was out of college. I started working at a bank when I was 16 years old, starting first as a teller and then moving into loan underwriting and loan review.
I remember in college wondering how I could actually make a living. I had a knack for banking, and it seemed like a solid career choice. I remember coming home for my first Thanksgiving break and finding the bank president sitting in the break room. I proudly told him that I was going to be a Finance major.
“Don’t be a finance major,” he said to me. “Be an English major, and show any future employer that you can write, and you can speak. We can teach you anything you need to know about banking here.”
As a longtime lover of reading and writing, this sounded much better than a finance major. I declared English as my major and spent the next few years reading thousands of pages and writing thousands of words for my classes.
I kept working at the bank. I never had any intention of going into anything other than banking. I saw only two avenues for English majors that didn’t have teaching certificates: publishing a book or going into journalism. While I loved to write, I didn’t think I was good enough for either. And I was good at banking.
Upon graduation, I went into banking software. I threw myself into my career. I became skilled in several aspects of technology, as well as continued to add to my banking knowledge. The entire time, I continued to write. My words turned into a blog and other outlets for sharing my writing.
Then 2020 hit. The year that no one was expecting. While being confined to my house, I also realized how stifled I felt. I had been doing my job for so long. There was nothing else for me to do. The things that I liked about myself – creativity and innovation – I could no longer use because I had hit a ceiling.
And so I began to explore writing. I found a content marketing agency that was willing to hire freelance writers. I would wake up early and stay up late at night, crafting articles between 500-2000 words for clients. I could focus on topics like banking and technology. Even better, I was allowed to repost the content into my own portfolio. While it was slow-going at first, eventually I gained speed and confidence. I could turn out 1000 words in under an hour, with high-quality work.
I began to consider writing as a career. I had a portfolio that would allow me to pursue opportunities as a writer. I realized that the world had changed so much since I had graduated from college. Words are everywhere. In every interview, I would joke, “there’s a lot of crap on the internet,” and it would always get a laugh.
The world needs good writers: people who can tell stories and communicate.
The day that I firmly made the decision that I would leave my job was December 16th, 2020. I snapped. I knew that I wanted something different from my career. Later that same day, my grandmother passed away, at 100 years old. I felt very strongly that she and I both made decisions to move on that day.
Without having a specific job lined up, I let my employer know that I was leaving. Working for a small company, I wanted to provide ample opportunity for a transition. I knew that if I didn’t find the right job, I could continue to freelance. But opportunities found their way to me, and I have a path forward.
Yesterday was a heavy day. A bittersweet day. A day of leaving my job, thinking about that day five years ago when we lost Iris, and thinking back sixteen years ago to a Valentine’s weekend when I got engaged. So many endings and beginnings wrapped up into a single day.