Written By: Lauren Howard
I sobbed on the floor of my office for what felt like hours.
It could have been minutes, but I don’t think so.
I felt like I was losing my mind. I was crying because I had just quit my job. Not because I had been fired. Not because I had been laid off. I had quit a job that wasn’t working for me anymore.
I did this! This was MY CHOICE! Somehow, that didn’t make it easier.
It still felt like a massive loss. It still felt like I had done something wrong, disappointed someone, not lived up to my potential.
Needing a change felt like an indictment of my inflexibility, not a decision rooted in basic self-care.
I was supposed to retire from that job. At a minimum, I would take a massive exit when we finally got that Google money we had talked about for so long.
And yet, there I was with none of that. The people who told me they were like family? Not so much. The narrative changed quickly.
In those tearful moments that felt like the brink of insanity, I realized something for the first time.
Please don’t give me the credit of thinking one time was enough.
Jobs come and go. If your identity is wrapped up in one of them, then you disappear pretty quickly when you don’t have the title anymore.
I wasn’t crying because I left my job. I was crying because I didn’t know who I was without it.
My identity needed to be more than that. Much more than that.
And a job where I was doing good work to make someone else rich did not deserve to be my identity. I was worth more than that.
I can’t say that I dried my tears and immediately found my place in the world.
Oh no, it was months on months of peaks and valleys. Of long bouts of insecurity and glimmers of competence. Of figuring out who I wanted to be and who I was not any longer.
And it was learning to ask myself, “Are my children going to starve or be directly harmed today? No? Then we have time.”
That sobbing pile of soppy insecurity hit the floor so this newer version could emerge . . . eventually. With time. And more tears. And ice cream. And an incredible support system.
You are more than your job. You are more than your title. You are more than your paycheck. You are so many things, and what you do for a living doesn't even come close to the most important of them.
Founder & CEO at elletwo