The whisper in my head that kept saying, “I don’t think you want to keep doing this – I think you want to quit” was growing louder.
I was surprised I began hearing the voice in the first place.
I had never wanted to be a stay at home mom before and didn’t think I was well suited for it. Financially it wasn’t an option when our first child was born (and still not an option when our second child was born), so I committed to doing as good as possible at my job. In a previous post, I describe how I put 100% effort into what’s in front of me.
I wanted to have a successful career. I was good at my job. I liked my job.
My husband and I worked hard to get our finances in order as we both saw more success in our careers. We consolidated and paid off credit card debt we had accumulated in our twenties (95% of it was mine), got life insurance, eliminated my husband’s student loan debt, made sure we had the best interest rate on our mortgage, and paid off my car.
We were happy in our careers, our kids were doing well, and we felt like our life was on a good path.
So why was this voice in my head trying to mess it all up? We had a great life – why was something telling me to change it?
Here are five reasons why I hesitated to listen to that voice:
#1 – I deserve this promotion
I was on the cusp of moving up to the next level in my career. I had been striving for this for years, and the moment was closer than ever. If I were to quit, it felt like that time working my ass off was for nothing. I’d be letting down my boss who had helped get me in position to take a promotion when the opportunity presented itself. I didn’t want to disappoint him.
#2 – A man will take my job
It was important to me to show that a woman could raise her children and have a thriving career. I knew that if I quit, it would more than likely be a man that would step into the role. What kind of message would that send? Would it be confirming to myself and others that you really can’t do both well? I couldn’t bring myself to let even just one person think that was true.
#3 – I’m letting down women by stepping down instead of “leaning in”
I was in a Senior Manager position with the high potential of being promoted to Director. It would have helped keep things more even in terms of men/women in leadership. I really did feel like I was letting down women by quitting. Wasn’t I helping the cause by continuing to move up in my career?
#4 – My daughter loves her preschool – it’s all she knows, and she has all her friends there
My daughter was enrolled at the daycare center onsite at my company. She couldn’t continue going there if I wasn’t an active employee. Even though she was only 3.5 years old, I hated that my decision to quit my job would affect her in what I worried was a negative way. I was worried she would be sad. Weird, right? Most people would think quitting their job to be with their children more could only be positive. But I liked that she was in full-time preschool in a great center, with the same classmates she’d had since she was 3 months old. The class size was small, the curriculum great. She was happy. Would she still be happy if she was just with me?
#5 – I’m afraid I won’t be enough for my kids
This is an extension of #4, but a broader feeling. I was feeling like I wanted to slow down and focus more on myself and my family, but would my children respond well to having more time with me? Was I cut out for it? I don’t like doing arts and crafts. Reading multiple books out loud is exhausting. Our son loved his after-school program – would he be bored if he was home with me? Was I boring?
When I look at these reasons, I notice that a lot of them are focused on what other people might think about my decision. I hesitated to make the leap towards my own happiness because I didn’t want to be judged. Towards the end of my decision-making process, I dubbed some of the above reasons “white noise” and blocked them out. I couldn’t let my ego dictate which choice to make. But I’m not perfect. It’s not easy to keep them blocked out even after officially making the change. If I let those thoughts into my mind, I begin to doubt my choice, and anxiety takes over.
Although I was able to block out most of the reasons, #4 and #5 mattered a great deal to me… they were centered on the happiness of my children. I couldn’t block that out. It also hit me that I had a sixth reason I hesitated to quit my job: I was worried that I wouldn’t be myself any longer, and if I wasn’t myself, who would I be?
I have been pleasantly surprised – I’m still the same person I was when I was working. I keep us busy. We are out at our local parks, on play dates, taking preschool classes (that I get to attend, too!), at our community library, spending time playing with the neighborhood kids outside, I’m spending time writing, and I now get to help our 1st grader with his homework. My drive and ambition are still there. It’s now channeled towards my family.
Choosing to move away from a path where you’ve seen success doesn’t mean you’re giving up; it doesn’t mean you are no longer driven. It means you are driven to find where your true happiness lies. That thought goes beyond my example of working full-time/staying home with the kids. You may struggle with those thoughts making other big life decisions.
You know what else I’ve realized?
It turns out I am enough for my kids.