Last June, a girlfriend and I were at a bar, loudly complaining about our jobs and new bosses, and maybe we should start our own company, and wouldn’t it be great if we got fired? We imagined quitting our menial office jobs to seek better paying menial office jobs that would financially facilitate our dreams. What are these dreams, you ask? Well, your guess is as good as ours, but the rules of business, and a few too many vodka drinks, say you need capital to build a business so that’s what we intended to do, dammit.

We spent hours talking about this even though, deep down, we’d never actually do it. How could we risk quitting our jobs without a back-up plan, or something to ensure that we’d earn enough money to maintain our lifestyles and simple pleasures? If you’d asked me three years ago why I wanted my job, it was strictly because I thought it would set me up for future successes in my “grand plan”, which seems silly now since there really wasn’t an end-goal to said grand plan. And, as it turns out, the desire to lose your job is all fun and games until someone actually loses their job and that someone was me. Ask and you shall receive.

Well, kind of.

It’s a little funny thinking back on now because when it happened, it felt like the end of the world. The universe’s way of delivering a cruel and unforgiving joke. The events that led to parting ways with my job were complex, and I was ultimately faced with the decision to stay or leave. The toughest part was the risk of deviating from the plan. You know, the one we were told as kids we had to have otherwise, what the hell are we doing with our lives? The rough draft looked something like: Go to school, choose a career, build previously aforementioned career, retire. There’s also something in there about procuring a family, but that’s arguably less important than the whole money and job thing. So clearly, I was a little nervous that maybe if I left my job to take a break and experience something else, I’d never get another job. Why? Well, fear of the unknown and all that good stuff. Of course, my most immediate concerns fell somewhere between where did I save the most recent copy of my resume and how will I afford my numerous online streaming subscriptions, but who am I kidding? I still use my old roommate’s Netflix account. And by old roommate, I mean ex-boyfriend, but that’s irrelevant.

We always want to know how the risk is going to affect the rest of our lives, which contradicts the basic definition of risk. I was trained to believe that without the “right” decisions and calculated choices, I’d be less successful. Anything that strayed from this grand plan would lead to failure and, to put it lightly, ruin my life. No pressure. We’ve read the inspirational quotes about “being on your own journey” and “your timetable is different than your peers’, so stop comparing yourself”, but it’s always easier said than done—another fun cliché. Of course, we’re reading it on someone’s Instagram story right before they check-in at a 5-star resort in Palm Springs, so maybe we could just switch timetables? Maybe? Just a thought.

I certainly feel like a bit of a fraud. Society begs to keep us in constant competition, whether it’s financially or materialistically, and I have no doubt that I perpetuate the problem by sharing the pretty and simple moments of my life. Talking about my misgivings on social media—or ever, actually—isn’t something that feels natural to me, mostly because it’s delicate and vulnerable and, frankly, I don’t like looking weak. I post about the weddings and parties and vacations and friends and all of the beautiful, effortless moments. I never talk about the classes I failed in college, the relationships I lost, the shameful things I’ve done, or my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. Mostly, I gloss over the rough stuff and stick to fun because who doesn’t like fun, am I right?

Knowing this, even now, as I’m unemployed, traveling, and trying to navigate a path that looks more like mine, I’m still not really talking about the hard stuff. This irony is not lost on me. And while I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and share it, I recognize how one-sided it can appear. I didn’t post about the accident I was in nearly three years ago that almost killed me, and the physical, cognitive, or emotional recovery. I didn’t post about how I felt hopeless and feared my body would never be the same. And I absolutely didn’t share how all of this took a toll on my relationship with the man I loved, because he was the one driving the car that crashed. I definitely didn’t talk about how it affected him, or how it hurt him and forever changed his life, maybe just as much as mine. This has made me though, along with all the other pieces of my life, and gave me a little more courage.

That being said, this isn’t about life being short and how every moment is fleeting, or whatever. This is about overcoming fears. Being my most authentic self means being honest about the entirety of my story, because it’s not as simple as what I usually choose to share. And the same is said for every other human; We all have our shit and sometimes that shit shows us new facets of our identity that we’d never seen before. My yearning to travel stems firstly from my constant curiosity, to feel something different and greater than myself, but it also comes from a place of fear; A fear that I’ll die before experiencing the world I’ve always hoped to explore—because I almost did once.

In the spirit of authenticity, I took a risk and chose myself over a job. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t wake-up, wishing the view outside my window was somewhere in Paris or Bali or, hell, Boston, and it’s been nothing short of beautiful bring this dream to fruition. I’m not going to pretend like this hasn’t been scary as hell, and admittedly there are days I miss my routine, and my job, and friends, and normalcy. But guess what? All of those things will be there when I get back. And those moments where I’m terrified and stopped dead in my tracks, those are the moments I learn most about myself. We stop taking risks when we’re afraid of the outcome; that it’ll irreparably impact our lives. It could be incredible, or mediocre, but being scared and doing something anyway is, in my opinion, the best way to grow. We are ever-changing beings. Sometimes we get to make decisions and sometimes decisions are made for us. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just the nature of our existence. How we choose to handle those decisions, though, is the ultimate test of our perseverance.

How do you want to live? What do you want to do? What do you want to see, feel, and experience? Who do you want to be? What do you value? I’ve been asking myself these questions, and while I’m still learning, there will always be a little part of me that’s afraid to do what I truly want, but that doesn’t change the fact that we must stop the fear of living. Just go do it. Learn an instrument. Go to law school. Start your own business. Train for a marathon. Buy a distillery. Learn a different language. Marry for money—just kidding, but also these 60-year-old rich dudes aren’t getting any younger. Do what you’ve always imagined, do what you’ve denied yourself all these months or years or decades. Maybe you’re scared, or feel insecure, or fear failure, and that’s all valid because you feel it, but go fucking do it anyway. Be greater, bigger, stronger than your fears and the things that terrify you.

Make room for yourself in this life—It’s yours after all.


Being unemployed is a journey full of extreme highs and lows. One moment, you feel empowered and inspired, and then suddenly you’re panicked, blaming yourself for not being better, smarter, more-skilled, etc. In the blink of an eye, I could dismantle my entire person: I wasn’t eloquent enough, hardworking enough, serious enough, professional enough, pretty enough (it’s funny how that insecurity always rears its ugly head at times like this), or just plain old good enough. And part of the problem was that I had an infinite amount of time to wallow in my own despair, and having too much time on your hands is never great—idle hands and whatnot. My apartment has never been this clean though, so I’ll take that as a win. Anyway, I couldn’t have fathomed being in this position, and because of that I wasn’t prepared for the emotional torment I was oh-so-graciously going to inflict upon myself over the course of my first several weeks of “freedom”.

The thing is, unemployment is this bizarre cross between feeling like you have nothing and then realizing you have every opportunity, so why the hell are you wasting all your damn time? And what are all of these opportunities anyway? Simply job opportunities, of course. Obviously, I need an income. I’ve grown pretty accustomed to paying my bills and providing a mildly lavish lifestyle for my dog, Jameson, who’s allergic to grain and can be pretty particular about his bow ties. But, outside of needing an income, I needed a job because, truthfully, I felt like nothing without one. And that’s where my dilemma began, at the place where I realized the entirety of my self-worth was entangled in something as simple as a job. I never really considered what I might do without a job, or what I really wanted. What am I passionate about? What really matters to me? You see, I worked so often and put too much thought and effort into my work that I stopped looking at myself, and this lack of introspection kept me focused on everything except me.

So why do we do this? Why do we allow our jobs, or how much money we make, or how “well” we’ve done for ourselves, define who we are? And even worse, define who we think others are as well? Our careers and financial successes have become the measuring stick used to determine our value and worth. On top of that, thanks to social media, we share this limited insight into our lives with only what we want people to see. Posting a vacation pic ultimately says, “Hey! Look at me! I do so well for myself that I can afford a week-long trip to Tulum!” And this perception can be so deceiving and dishonest, and not only are we burdened by the pressures of society to follow the gilded path to happiness, but we’ve now, subconsciously, begun pressuring each other. If it’s not on Instagram or Facebook is it even real? “Do it for the ‘gram” is an actual phrase, inciting our need to make our lives look better—happier—on the outside, but what about the inside?

Whether I’m at a bar catching up with old friends or meeting new ones, everyone wants to know about your employment; If you’re still at the same job, new job, happy at your job, looking for work, all of it. “What do you do?” is one of the first questions we ask. Why? And if you’re not working then the answer is, of course, nothing. Isn’t that bleak? That what we do, the summation of our lives, is defined by whether or not we’re employed. My friends and I talked about our work more than we were actually working, and now that I don’t have much to bring to the table in that department, I feel disconnected. It’s difficult to understand the urgency in their voices as they complain about their company or boss or co-worker now that I’ve been set free from those frustrations. And even though I’ve been set free, a part of me still longs for those familiarities. It’s like the train to happiness and fulfillment is leaving the station with everyone I love on board and I’m stuck on the platform, waving goodbye.

What’s even more unsettling is meeting new people. There’s no better way to instill a lasting impression than by telling someone you barely know that you aren’t working and haven’t been working for a while. Gasp. Want to shock them more? Tell them you’re traveling for a couple months in the search for different opportunities. Double gasp. The reactions are pretty telling, and, initially, enforced feelings of failure and loneliness. But this discomfort in unemployment afforded me a new perspective: I must see myself outside of a job, outside of the distractions and labels of what people think I am, or what I want people to think I am. What do I value? What do you value? When you meet someone, ask them about what they love and what they desire and what makes them uncomfortable and what makes them feel alive. We are more than our jobs.

Sometimes this journey feels like I’ve taken the blindfold off (Bird Box plug) and I’m seeing my peers, and society, and community, and the world in an entirely different light. Sometimes it feels like a reckless mistake and a huge waste of time and energy. And that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m questioning myself and my decisions because, at the very least, it’s a reminder of why I’m doing this—why I’m seeking all of the things I’ve been too afraid to risk going off the gilded path.


I’ve spent the better part of my life asking too many questions. Why don’t sharks live in Lake Michigan? Why was JFK assassinated? Why are there so many religions if there is only one God? Why can’t there be peace in the Middle East (see previous question)? Sometimes, the answer is simple, and other times, the answer naturally produces more questions. Subjective questions are my favorite, as for a brief moment you’re given a snapshot of how another human’s mind works; how they relate to the world around us. But the most disturbing question we ask each other, without a sense of what is truly at stake, is whether or not we’re happy.

The state of our happiness gets questioned so frequently that I’ve become somewhat obsessed—it’s a healthy obsession, I swear—with how others, myself included, answer. When I run into an old friend in a coffee shop or am catching up with family during the holidays over a traditionally strong vodka drink (DM me for recipe), I feel urged to keep the conversation positive and save the questioner from enduring a rant about my bipolar boss’ passive aggressive Post Its and how, on most days, I long for moments of silence where I can sit comfortably on my couch and stare at a blank wall. I say that in jest, but also, not. So, I tell them I’m happy to shut down further inquiry. And once you tell someone you’re happy, there’s never a follow-up to that. No one ever asks, “Why? Why are you so damn happy?” And while this tactic is somewhat deceiving, it makes me wonder if this is something everyone does to stave off real conversation or connection.

I’m a liar—self-admitted—but only with the best intention. Realistically, how much honesty can our fragile, human self-image tolerate? In my experience, a little honesty goes a long way, but not all of the honesty, you feel me? Like, when a friend sends me a picture and asks which filter will make them look better, I could reveal that no filter can hide the 15lbs they’ve gained since their divorce, or I could simply do as they’ve asked and choose the filter that’s most flattering. Give them the truth in the kind, packaged dose they desired (and asked for), rather than forcing my unwanted criticism. In light of that, when someone asks how I am, or if I’m happy, I’ll eagerly exclaim, “I’m great! Soooooo happy!”, even when I feel lousy, unaccomplished, or plain old uninspired. But why do I do this? After all, they asked, so they should be prepared for any varying response, but I still need to pretend, as a way to make them, and maybe even myself, feel better. And what type of lying is that? When we lie about ourselves and pretend that we’re so damn happy?

This illusion of happiness surfaced regularly through my early and mid-twenties, rearing its ugly head as friends began their careers, marriages, and families. Everyone was scrambling for a piece of it, this magical state of being that’ll prove our lives are meaningful and worthwhile. Whether it was jobs, cars, salaries, engagements, promotions, weddings, homeownership, babies—getting your hands on these things was definitely going to give you a slice of happiness and if you didn’t feel grateful every goddam minute after getting all of the things you thought would make you happy, then guess what? Must mean you aren’t happy, right?

I struggled with this for a long time—I still do—and there never seemed to be a time where I identified with the world of beautiful smiles that I scrolled past on social media, not because I didn’t want to be happy, but I really didn’t know how to hold onto that fleeting feeling like everyone else. It’s all over television and films and books. “Are you happy?”, the biting question frequently asked by a male protagonist to his old girlfriend, or a father to his estranged son, or to a childhood best friend that went down “the wrong” path; it’s everywhere. And we’re somehow comforted and satisfied when the response is yes, they are, after all, happy. And then I began to wonder, when did happiness become the barometer for our quality of life?

Like others my age, I started marking items off of the “How to Live a Happy Life” checklist that society doled out to us around the age of five. We’re asked in kindergarten, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and, after given examples by our teachers, we naively chose from professions like fireman or doctor because that’s how we’re set up early on to join the workforce (get ‘em while they’re young, right?) and ensure that we’ve got it engrained in our tiny, developing brains that when we do, in fact, grow up, we have to have a profession, and that without one we have no identity. No one ever asked if, once grown up, we wanted integrity, or compassion, or courage, or resilience. Why?

Here I am, 27 years-old and recently unemployed, lacking purpose and identity because who am I without my career? I spent years of schooling and discipline—well, some discipline— and essentially my entire life preparing to be an adult with a career that would eventually lead to constant, lifelong happiness. Who am I without a title and calendar filled with meetings and a place to be every day that needed me and my, albeit limited, skills? Who needs me now?

Me. I need me now.

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