How I Learned to Be a Dragon

I spent days screaming on the inside.

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Photo Taken In Germany, Berlin
Photo Taken In Germany, Berlin

A few months ago, and exactly three days before I quit my corporate job, I read Jessica Knoll’s New York Times article, “I Want to Be Rich and I’m Not Sorry.” I sat at the kitchen table in my parent’s East Village apartment, squealing with joy as Knoll concluded,

I want to make the kind of money that allows me to jet to Mexico on a Tuesday, to meaningfully contribute to nasty politicians, to afford a shark of a lawyer if any man ever lays a finger on me again. If anyone calls that obnoxious, I want to do what men do, and shrug.

The last sentence hit me like a stack of bricks, setting off a string of leading questions: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? What would I do if I didn’t care what others thought of me? What would I do if I trusted my gut? 

For the past two and a half years, I’d felt like a slave in my corporate job. Half-assing my way through the week and hating myself for not leaving, I’d never felt so far from the person I’ve always known myself to be. 

“I’m screaming on the inside,” I told my life coach. “I’ve been screaming to leave for months.” I could hear her roll her eyes on the other end of the phone as if to say, as Lady Olenna told Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, “You’re a dragon. BE a dragon!” 

Lady Olenna’s words rang in my head: “I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. Do you know why? I ignored them. The Lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No, you’re a dragon. Be a dragon!” 

That was clearly what I needed to do — be a dragon. But how? What makes a dragon a dragon?

Well, let’s get analytical here. Sheep follow and dragons lead. Sheep imitate other’s behavior, using the other as a metric for themselves. Dragons ignore the “clever” men of their time and follow the internal GPS of their gut, their intuition, their fire within.

The imperative for my new life had emerged: Follow your gut and nothing else. 

This is what I resolved to do as I quit my job and proudly walked out the corporate door, empty-handed and full-hearted. 

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