On Career Moves

For the past year, I’ve been working mainly from home, patching together a few freelance gigs. I’m a true homebody (exhibit a, exhibit b, exhibit c), and I loved the coziness and flexibility.

And then, this spring, I hit a wall. I began to feel really isolated and lonely, and dreaded each day as they came, another one spent at home, in my own thoughts. By the time Kevin would get home from work, I was a pent up ball of conversation, dying for human interaction. “HOW WAS YOUR DAY WHAT’D YOU DO DID YOU EAT LUNCH ARE YOU HUNGRY THE BACHELORETTE IS ON TONIGHT.” I would bounce around him while he smiled wearily and made his way to the couch.

As the weeks ticked by, it wasn’t just working from home that was wearing me down, it was my life in general. I was ready for a change. I was beginning to feel that itch. Here’s the thing about these realizations: they’re terrifying. As someone who likes to feel in control, it is essentially my worst nightmare to wake up and realize the hard work isn’t over (shh, I know the hard work is never over).

During one particular conversation with my mom, she said something that really stuck. Allow yourself to daydream. Let your mind wander. It’s really tempting to put horse blinders on during transition periods, to work towards whatever goal you have set for yourself, but sometimes, in doing so, you miss out on a little side path that could take you somewhere wonderful. I pocketed the advice and went back to wallowing.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and a new restaurant opened in our small town. I immediately fell in love with it — its mission, its food, its vibe (see my review here). One night, over wine, I joked to my friends, “God, I would love to work in that kitchen.” But the second I said it, it was a thought planted in my head, and I returned to it again and again. I realized, over the next few days, that I was daydreaming about it. I’ve always loved cooking, and the idea of getting out of the house, away from my laptop, and outside of my head was so appealing that it basically had me salivating. With writing, you can never be done. You can tweak and edit all day and still never feel satisfied. With cooking, you have to decide, at some point, that you’re happy with the final product, and then you serve it, and it’s eaten, and it’s gone.

So, three or four days a week, I’m in the kitchen, chopping, dicing, sautéing, baking, washing, stirring, tasting. I make pierogies and buttermilk panna cotta and huge trays of slow roasted tomatoes. I come home after a long day and face plant into bed, still smelling like garlic and butter and pea risotto. I’m equally exhausted as Kevin now, and together we drink cold beers and stare off into space for a solid hour before catching up and making dinner and watching a movie.

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The best part, though, is that this job has opened doors. I think about writing a cookbook, or starting a catering business, or even creating an app for 20-something home cooks. It would have never occurred to me otherwise, or if I hadn’t taken those daydreams seriously.

“You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, ‘I made it!’” — Amy Poehler

Anyone else experience a transition recently? What helped you get through it? Or are you in the middle of it now? Share, if you feel like it.

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15 thoughts on “On Career Moves

  1. Hi Joy! So happy to hear you’re enjoying your new job. I worked as a waitress for many years, and there’s nothing like the restaurant business–I still miss it sometimes! (And also so glad to see you back on the blog. :))

  2. Joy – this is too relatable! We finally settled into SD and since I’m working remotely now, sometimes I feel just as you do – I am so antsy by the time Chris gets home I am begging for him to take me out of the house when he just wants to relax! =D And I half joked to him the other day that I would love to just quit my job and work in a kitchen! Love what you’re doing – please keep us updated on how things go!

  3. Hi, Joy! Sounds like you are learning and growing from this work, and that is always the best kind of job! I’d love to hear more about whether you’d worked in restaurants or had professional cooking experience before this. (Or if you have any “food secrets” you can share from restaurant work!)
    Drinking cold beers and staring off in space sounds pretty dreamy after a long day!

  4. Joy,
    Congrats on the new job! This was so encouraging to read. I’m in a transition period myself, and constantly reminding myself that I can choose to see uncertainty as exciting and not scary. That Amy Poehler quote is so good and so true.

  5. ahh, this is so exciting! congrats! looking forward to more entries about this awesome career change, so i can live vicariously through you :)

  6. BRAVO! It’s important to be open minded to your identity! To remember what you want one day, may not be right the next. You inspire me!

  7. Joy! This post is so well timed because I’ve JUST hit that wall of isolation. I’ve worked from home for years, but for some reason I just CANNOT anymore. But your mum’s advice to daydream is the best – otherwise we spend too much time worrying about having to find a solution and get tense. Go Joy’s mum! I’m so happy you found something to make you happy :-) Obv if I was stateside I’d come and sample your wonderful cooking! XO :-)

  8. I’m so glad for you! It sounds like you really like it, and I loove the idea for creating a cookbook (many preorders ahead :)
    I just changed my job, after finishing law I worked in a big law firm for 2 years and decided I don’t see my future there. So I just got a job in a social media marketing agency and loving every minute of it!!
    I’m actually so proud of myself for the courage to chase my dreams so I know how you feel! :)

  9. Congratulations! I am reading the book “Sweet Bitter” now and it’s making me envious of working in a restaurant. Also, I work from home and totally relate being bursting at the seams when my husband finally comes home. Good luck with the transition! :)

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