I have the power to be whatever I want to be
After 18 years of working at an Investment bank in New York I walked away. I left the world of board rooms, million-dollar trades and expense accounts and found myself in the middle of diapers, bed wetting, and PTO fundraisers. I’d never felt so lost. I walked away from the money and the prestige so I could raise my four young children, and because the stress of the job was killing me. But it was a hard decision.
Where I live, in the New York City metropolitan area, you’re defined by your career. The more money you make the better. When I became a stay-at-home mom I didn’t make a red cent, so I felt worthless.
I left a career where I worked a set number of hours and accomplished things. I structured trades, I brought on new clients, I wrote business plans. Now being a stay-at-home mom was a 24/7 job and I felt like I never completed anything. There was no tangible result at the end of the day because the work never ended. Once I finished the laundry there were new dirty clothes in the hamper. After I did the dinner dishes, I had to pack school lunches. Weeks would go by and I felt I had nothing to show for it. Don’t get me wrong, my kids were alive, well fed and happy, but there wasn’t anything I could sit back and look at and say, “This is mine, I did this.” I needed something more.
I always loved to write, and I found myself journaling about my experiences of leaving corporate America and staying home with my kids. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I set my sights on writing a novel about my experiences on Wall Street. Within a few weeks I gave up. I didn’t have the time to write a book!
Soon after I had breakfast with my mom. I shared with her my flash in a pan book idea. “Nobody is going to give you the time you need, Jamie” she said. “Nobody is going to say here take an hour or take a day. If you want to do something, you have to steal the time for yourself.”
I realized then that I needed to create a world for myself. I needed to create a new reality for myself. I needed to create an existence where my goals were a priority. Look, don’t get me wrong, I loved being with my kids, but I also wanted a life as a woman, too. If wanted a different life, I had to do different things. I wanted to be a writer, so I hired myself for the job. “I am a writer,” I said. “It’s my new career.” It didn’t matter that I wasn’t paid for it. Work, even if there is no money in it, is still work.
I wrote out a basic contract with myself. I decided how many hours I wanted to work on writing and what I wanted to accomplish. I kept a time sheet. I signed up for a writing class. I started to submit articles for publication.
Every week I made a new “work order” for myself for the week’s goals. I took my contract and work orders seriously. If I made a commitment I followed through. I never let my boss down at my old job, and I deserved the same respect.
A year later, my first-grade son presented me with an art project for Mother’s Day. It was a poster all about me. My hair color, my eye color, my favorite food. Under “my mom’s job” he wrote in scribbled red crayon – Writer. And in that moment, with that piece of yellow construction paper clasped in my hand, everything became clear. Not only did I see myself as a writer, but my children saw me that way, too. Having my kids witness me carving out a new life for myself was a gift to all of us.
I created my own identity. I was not a victim of my circumstances or life choice. I now know I can hire myself to be whatever I want to be.
Today, I am a published author and that novel I once scrapped is almost complete. All because I hired myself.