Community//

The Day I Quit My Way to Freedom

I still remember vividly what it felt like to park my company car for the last time. But as I turned the keys in the ignition, I knew there was no turning back.

I still remember vividly what it felt like to park my company car for the last time. But as I turned the keys in the ignition, I knew there was no turning back.

I had a job that I enjoyed with a company that I loved. My salary paid the bills and on top of that, I could earn as much commission as I hustled or had time for. Looking back I’d like to think that it was a brave move but the freaking truth is that it was both stupid and irresponsible. There I was, a single parent with 4 kids at home. Two biological from my failed marriage and two that I had been fostering for the last 3 years. I didn’t have another job lined up, all I had was the hope that I would get accepted into the college program I had applied for on a whim an hour earlier. Well, that and the hope that my GI Bill payment would at least be enough cover our basic expenses. But I stupid as it was, looking back I know that if I had not made that bold move at that moment…  and experienced the ensuing struggles and events I propelled with that decision, I would not have the freedom I have today and I would not be the person that journey created.

At the time my goal was to finish the degree that I had started 14 years earlier. And maybe go on to get my masters, an MBA. That’s why I kept failing, right? That’s what kept holding me back… not having a college degree? That’s what kept me from climbing the ladder, from making more money and finally stop being so damn broke and living paycheck to paycheck. If I could finally get my degree then all my problems would be solved.

Have you ever heard that Albert Einstein quote about a fish climbing a tree? “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  That was my whole life. I never felt like I fit in. I always felt like I was trying to squish myself into a mold or somebody else’s expectation of who and what I should be. Up until that point my entire life had felt like an out of body experience. It’s totally surreal, looking back. It’s pretty pathetic considering the fact that I had just turned 35 the day I quit my job. But I just wanted to feel like myself for the 1st time ever, ya know?

So fast forward two years… not only had I FINALLY finished my bachelor’s degree but I had gone on to get my MBA  from an amazing university. Not only that but I completed the program in 11 months. Pretty freaking amazing, right? Here I was, a single mom juggling four kids (3 with special needs), graduate school, rocking it all out and kicking ass all over the place. Now I could be on top of the world, right? Wrong! Little did I know, I was about to enter one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

So there I was, finally a big bad MBA. I had started a fairly successful independent consulting business a year prior (around the same time I started my master’s degree). Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t breaking any records but the bills were getting paid. And now that I had my big fancy degree I could move on with taking over the world. Because, of course, that’s what was holding me back.

What makes this whole thing even funnier is that I stood there with the false belief that I had gotten through the most difficult part of my plan. Finish school, start a business, take over the world.  And once I took over the world and started to make a crap-ton of money… then I could go back to doing what I really loved which was serving people. Giving people a hand up not a handout. Teaching. Loving. Inspiring.

I always joke that God must have a great sense of humor. We all know that Depeche Mode song about that? No? Am I just aging myself?  Here, I’ll sing it for you… “I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor and when I die I expect to find him laughing”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hopelessly stubborn person. This wouldn’t be the first humbling experience in my life, nor the last, I suspect. But I’m a woman of faith and so I’d pray for signs that I was on the right path and it was always the same. I would pray for a sign, God would give me a sign… giant freaking stop signs sometimes and there I was treating them like a game of Mario Kart. Weaving a bobbing around them, dropping bananas, throwing turtle shells at them while still doing whatever the heck I wanted to do along the way. Eventually, He got through to me, though. You see, we are all born for a reason and with a purpose… every single last one of us walking on this planet and let me tell ya… God’s gonna get his way every single time. For me, it meant giving me 4 flat tires so I could notice that I was going the wrong way on the track.

This is what happened next… 47 days, that’s how long I lasted on my high horse from the date of graduation. 47 days after I graduated, after a really long day of work, I gathered up the kids and headed home. When I walked inside a surprise was waiting for me… it was raining! That’s what the kids said… Actually raining, inside of my home, and not just a little. It had been raining in my house for roughly the last 12 hours. It was a Friday night. What the heck was I going to do? Trying not to panic I called my homeowner’s insurance (who connected me with the loss mitigation crew), quickly called the Foster agency to find a temporary place for the weekend for two of my kids… and took my other two to stay at a friend’s house while my home was being gutted down to the wires.

What I would find out the following Monday is that my mortgage company had outsourced escrow payments… and THAT company had accidentally short paid my homeowner’s insurance 6 months prior by quite literally missing a keystroke. I was standing with a completely gutted home down to the wires when I found out that I had no homeowner’s insurance and all of a sudden no place to stay. The saddest part of it all was that the previous Friday night would turn out to be the last night that I would ever see my foster kids that I was eventually hoping to adopt. Turns out you can’t foster kids if you have no place to stay. My boys and I then spent the next 6 months staying between a couple friend’s houses, I guess basically qualifying as homeless, fighting a big bank (et al) to admit their error, sliding into a deep depression, not being able to focus on my business and losing most of my “friends” because I “wasn’t myself” anymore and thus overstayed welcomes along the way.

By the time it was all said and done and the escrow company admitted their error, I was so behind on life. I hadn’t been paying my mortgage that entire time because I was paying friends to stay with them and now my house was now going into foreclosure. I still owed that emergency mitigation company thousands of dollars and I was down to a fraction of my clients because I could barely muster the energy to get my kids to school, much less physically show up to my client’s offices for the ones I didn’t support from home.  By the time I was done paying everything and everyone back from those 6 months of hell, all I had left from the settlement was enough to pay first and last month’s rent for a shitty apartment for me and my 2 boys. 

You wanna talk about humbling. I was literally starting all over.

That experience sucked majorly. It has taken a lot of work to climb out of that period not only financially but also mentally and emotionally. But I’m so grateful for those experiences because I have never been in a better place in my life. I learned so much during that time period. I learned where I should focus my energy, I learned that I don’t have to separate my passion and purpose from how I make a living. I learned that I can effectively combine the two successfully. 

I often joke that I could never settle on one thing that I wanted to be when I grew up so I’m just going to do all of them. Now I get to help other people be what they want to be when they grow up… And through that process, I get to be all of those things while helping others along their journey. I still don’t have it all figured out and I probably never will but that’s OK. I will never stop learning, I will never stop growing and I will never stop challenging myself.

And as much as that situation sucked, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It changed to me to the core and made me who I am today. I now believe that there is literally nothing in this world that I can’t overcome. I’d gone through some pretty hard shit before… probably even worse, but that experience specifically put me along a path that is more aligned with my purpose. Now, my children know that there is nothing that they can’t overcome. And as I continue to help people along their journey, I can teach them the same.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

bill campbell
Community//

5 Things I Learned From Management Icon Bill Campbell, Who Coached Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin And Countless Others

by Jaleh Bisharat
Community//

What I Learned About Simple Living From Being Broke

by The Money Mix

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.