Nothing says “stress” like a $30 purchase of binge foods from Duane Reade followed by immediate consumption. After one such occasion a few weeks ago, I suddenly saw myself clearly and had a movie-style rewind-and-replay vision of what led me to that moment:
Boxes of cereal with their crunchy emptiness had crept back into my mornings and the occasional chewy, sweet candy bar found its way into late afternoons. At least that’s how it began, along with the excuses: “Just a little pick me up.” “I need the energy.” “I’m too tired to drive home without it.” Soon bagels were a morning motivator and heaping portions of pasta a nightly reward. Ice cream or donuts at least once a day. Stopping at Panera to buy loaves of bread and then eating them in the car on the way home leaving not one crumb behind. Foods that I knew had negative effects on my clarity of mind were once again justified… repeatedly. I maintained healthier lunches out of pure necessity, in order to avoid a complete food coma. Yet predominantly indulgence became the norm. Even with all of these factors piling up, it wasn’t until the walk home from Duane Reade one evening, $30 lighter and 5 pounds of candy heavier, that I realized it had gone too far. I called my friend in a mild sugar hysteria,
“I just ate an entire 11 ounce bag of Raisinets! What am I doing to myself?!”
That was the moment I realized I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect to be any happier. I wasn’t eating this way because I enjoy it. In fact, eating this way only makes me feel worse about myself every time. In the beginning of this downward trend, I tried to mitigate the bad decisions by continuing an exercise regime, but soon running dropped lower and lower on my list of priorities. Eventually I abandoned the running program altogether after five weeks of training despite seeing real progress in my endurance. Once my energy levels dropped due to poor food choices, apathy set in. I could try to forgive myself, vow not to repeat the same behavior, and attempt to change my outlook yet again, but ultimately I knew there was a deeper cause of the problem. As long as the cause remained, so would the effect. That’s when I admitted the root problem: I was working a job that no longer fulfills me. As good as the work had once been, it is now time to move on.
I had a few options when I gave notice to my 9-5 (or to be more accurate, an 8-4:30 plus 25 weekends each year and a hefty commute). After extremely careful consideration, I decided I’m going to seize the opportunity for taking on freelance work, writing, and pursuing other interests independent of a traditional job… at least for now. I’ve had the great fortune of being taught fiscal responsibility at age five, and I figured out early on how I could prepare for this unconventional lifestyle without winning the lottery or being handed a silver spoon. I’m still living in Manhattan, and I have the means to take time making my next move. I’m grateful for this, and I don’t underestimate the value of careful planning before taking such a step.
Since deciding to leave my job, life has felt much more exciting. I never thought I’d be someone who would embrace the untraditional and flourish in the unknown. Now that I’m out here figuring out my next steps without a clear blueprint, I’m realizing I love it. I can create the blueprint. I am in control of the decisions I make as much as anyone else, and I can use that ability. I’m ready.
The fact that the second bag of Raisinets sits in the cabinet full to the top with only a few morsels missing tells me that I know in my gut I made the right choice.