The greatest struggle to quitting my job with no money-making replacement wasn’t the change in income. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to spend my time—I filled that easily. It wasn’t that I got bored or lonely. It was the judgment.
“She just got married and decided to quit her job and stay home? Must be nice.”
“She doesn’t even have any kids to take care of, who does she think she is?”
“I thought she was a feminist…”
The side eyes. The sneers. For months, it was more than I could take.
And the worst part of it all is that I was doing it to myself. No one said those things to me. I don’t know if they even thought them. Truth be told, there wasn’t one person that I talked to who, when they heard what I was doing, said anything other than, “that’s awesome! I’m so excited for you!”
It’s amazing the ways that we can lie to ourselves. We do this thing—especially when we’re depressed and anxious and on the cusp of something brand new—terrified. Especially when we’ve spent the past few years feeling like we’re not good at anything in the whole world. Especially when, over and over and over again, the few times you’ve started to believe you’re starting to get a handle on things you have the rug ripped out from under you. It’s hard to believe that you could be good at anything, really. It’s hard to believe that you deserve what you want.
Hopefully in time you’ll see that because you weren’t great at that one thing—because you didn’t thrive in that specific environment—doesn’t mean that you’re not good at anything. It means this one thing isn’t your thing. It’s pretty difficult to see it that way, though.
I’m good at writing. I’m good at connecting with people. I’m good at making dinner and keeping the kitchen clean. I am good folding the laundry (once I get started on it, anyway) and taking the dog on a walk. I am good at working a few hours a week at a book store. I thrive in this environment that we’ve made. I love this life. I love that we’re doing things a little bit outside of the ordinary model of how things should go. We’re thinking outside of the box and for us it’s working. Do I think it would work for you? Who knows. I have lived long enough to know that there’s not one prescription that works for every single person. What I love the most about this whole thing is that we chose it. Truth be told most of your life is the result of choices that you made–either spur of the moment choices or the ones that got a lot of attention and pro/ con lists. But we so rarely see it that way. This was one of those things that made it easy to say, “I made this choice and I’m living with it.”
Sometimes it still sneaks up on me. But I know that I’m fine. I try to focus on the true things. The true things are that I’m having fun. I like being able to babysit for my friends when they’re in a pinch. I like being able to explore my creative side without being completely drained at the end of the day. I like the energy I have, now, to invest in the new friendships I’ve made over this past year. I like that Ryan likes his job, too. If he didn’t, this would be a completely different story. Life is long. This is not forever.
I think that a lot of the reason that I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in my new role for a while was the fact that I’d never seen it, before. The only women that I’ve ever known who stayed home from a 9 to 5 were moms and they had babies to take care of. But as someone who won’t have children, I didn’t have a model to follow. I thought people would think that we were making more money than we really were (no, we were getting a crash-course in budgeting). I thought people would think that I was taking advantage of Ryan—that I got to live my dream while he had to keep working in drudgery or something. I thought people would think that I wasn’t living in the “real world”. I projected all these thoughts onto other people because I was having trouble taking responsibility for my own doubts. But doubts are all a part of this game.
This guilt that I had is something that I fought for a long time. Truly, it didn’t go away until I started actually bringing in some money into the family. I don’t bring a lot—which is perfectly fine for us. We don’t need a lot. It’s enough to pay for my healthcare and my coffee-shop habit (sometimes you do just need to “go to the office”). Especially since depression has lifted for a while, so has my online shopping habit. Man, that saves a lot of money. I heard someone say, the other day, “the opposite of depression isn’t happiness, it’s purpose”. And while I know that things are a lot more complicated than that—depression can’t be tied up in a precious little bow—I have found a piece of that to be true in my story. I’m in a place where I’m thriving. I’m in a place where I’m happy. I’m in my home—I mean that in the most literal and the most metaphorical sense of the word.