Around this time last year I had become manic for the second time in my life. The first time was in 2007 after I left my first husband. But this time around it gradually came on, starting with insomnia around August or September of 2013, when I began to allow myself to contemplate the fact that maybe a divorce to husband #2 would not be an apocalyptic catastrophe. I stayed up late at night, mind racing, and it was dawning on me that this was not what I wanted for my life. By Thanksgiving he moved out.
By the beginning of January I realized I had made a major budgeting mistake with both of my online marketing accounts and had overspent one of them by something like 6%, when it was only supposed to exceed no more than 1%. Numbers were never my thing, although I’d scored well on standardized tests—about the same as what I’d scored in reading and writing, which wasn’t genius-level, but it was above average—but I’d never been confident about my ability to correctly manage budgets at work, or most everything else that I had to do at work, for that matter.
Most everything else consisted of analyzing data, creating marketing strategies, and creating presentations based on that analysis and then presenting them to teammates and upper-level executives. All of this was terrifying to me, being an INFP on the Meyers Briggs scale, which is someone who’s more suited for roles such as counselor, teacher, social worker, or writer—but I didn’t know that I was an INFP at the time. Just that I couldn’t concentrate at work because I hadn’t been sleeping at night, and this stuff was already difficult for me. The account manager on my accounts was also touching on a sensitive nerve for me, she being a driven, ambitious recent college graduate who needed to know why my work was incorrect and when it would be fixed and what my plan was now and how were we going to tell the client this. I wanted to strangle her on a daily basis and tell her that I don’t need a child telling me what to do, that when she got to be in her late 30s and twice-divorced and trapped in a career path she never wanted in the first place, then maybe she would have some compassion.
My boss was kind and understanding, told me to take some time off and get my insomnia under control. So that’s what I did, sort of. As a last resort I went to an acupuncturist, which helped, although I was still a bit manic, and I went back to work a couple of weeks later. However, when I got back to work, I couldn’t see myself doing the same job again. This wasn’t a new feeling, but it had almost reached the breaking point by this time. I can’t remember how the conversation came about, but my boss had already sensed that I wasn’t ready to jump completely back on board, so he assigned me a new role as an auditor, auditing internal accounts for improvements and external accounts for sales.
This new role was a relief at first, but pretty soon became tedious. Every day all day I combed through spreadsheets, compiling data, creating charts, then providing this info to the online marketing managers who managed the accounts I was auditing. Most of them didn’t care for the info; they were managing their accounts just fine as it was, thank you very much. My boss wanted me to somehow take this job a step further—“10 steps further” is what he’d said. I had no idea what that meant or how to do that. I was having trouble with just the one step further part.
When you despise sales and marketing, advertising and commercials, inventing new ways of doing these things you cannot stand does not come naturally. So by May I went to my boss and asked if there were some other jobs I may do instead. How about project manager? How about web content strategist? While strategizing website content sounded a bit painful, like manipulating people into paying for something that won’t serve them, such as an online degree for a for-profit, big business education client, maybe the position would be easier for me, being a natural writer. And maybe it was big business but this organization helped people better themselves, and maybe their degree was not a worthless money pit that would drive them into student loan debt for the next 20 years where they worked a job they hated just to pay off the loan. Not everyone was like me.
But my boss wasn’t having it. He told me that I could either go back to my old job managing online marketing ads, or we could agree to part ways—and, he added, if we agreed to part ways, the company would be glad to give me a severance check. Pretty sure I knew what to do, I contemplated this idea over the weekend anyway, and talked to a trusted advisor about my decision. I had about three months’ worth of savings—surely that would give me enough time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I hadn’t figured it out in the 20 years since I’d graduated high school, but somehow in those three months I was going to figure it out.
So I went in on that Monday and I told my boss of my decision to leave and that was it. By August my savings was almost out and no decision yet. Not even close. So today I work in an organic grocery store where I used to spend about $400 a month. I figure I may as well get a discount on my food if nothing else. And one thing is for sure: I will not go hungry.