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I quit my full-time job on a Tuesday morning. The reality that I needed to quit my soul-sucking job didn’t hit me until 3 a.m. I was in a zombie state of mind. My eyes burned from being up for days and my body ached from exhaustion, running constantly to complete my workload.
On Monday, my last day, the workday hustle began at 4 a.m. with early morning editing and interviews. I didn’t stop working until 11 p.m. as I finished reviewing my school board story and notes. Tuesday’s hustle also began at 4 a.m., but I was at my breaking point.
Supposedly, I had a 9-to-5 job. But as a newspaper reporter in a small town, it felt like I was on the clock 24/7. I couldn’t go to the grocery store without being stopped for 45 minutes talking about the newspaper and a potential story. I had readers bombarding my personal social media and email at all hours of the day reminding me of stories and requesting interviews. My neighbors bothered me weekly about their newspaper subscriptions.
I felt trapped.
I couldn’t escape my job.
Being a newspaper reporter became my entire identity. Now, that’s not to say that I’m not a journalist at heart — I constantly look at the world through an eye keen on details and constantly question the world around me. But suddenly my name was “Newspaper Reporter in Small Town USA.” It was no longer Martha, a girl with attributes that make her a cutthroat reporter.
By taking on this job, I unknowingly adopted a new persona, one that would completely consume me.
My daily routine revolved around my job as a newspaper reporter. I lacked a social life because I didn’t have a spare moment to devote to anything other than my newspaper. I lived and breathed newspaper reporting. It was unhealthy.
The newspaper I worked for was understaffed and all the responsibility fell on me. I was the only person producing a 25-page newspaper, with little to no help from my superior. We lacked staff because of recent office turnover and struggled to find replacements worthy of working in our high-paced work environment. I was alone in this busy, chaotic and crushing position.
But it hadn’t always been this way.
At one time, we were fully staffed. I was able to have a social life and function. In my first three months working at the newspaper, I wrote award-winning stories that gained national attention. I was making substantial progress as a journalist and as a writer. I achieved career goals that I thought would take years. But after months of working alone and having no mentors or co-workers to spur on my ambition and challenge me, I started to hate what I do.
I also started to hate myself.
I despised that I didn’t have time for myself. I was confined to the small town that I covered, which was hard for a social, 22-year-old woman to cope with. I struggled to juggle my dating life, find time to reconnect with friends and family and manage to get a good night’s sleep. I hated feeling isolated from the rest of my life. I felt as if the only thing that was constant was the grueling job I dragged myself to every day.
That late Monday night/early Tuesday morning I told myself I couldn’t hate myself any longer. I could no longer use my job as a crutch for not being happy. I ached to feel fearless and become braver. I wanted to delve into something that ignited me with feeling, not something that left me feeling empty.
I craved freedom.
After that sleepless Monday night, I came to work the next morning with a resignation letter in hand. I handed it to my boss and left. There was nothing they could say to make me stay. I had had enough of this unhappy cycle. I needed to live again.
A month later I boarded a plane to Puerto Rico where I found that happiness again. The tropical sunshine and humid air chased away my blues. The only blues that I cared about were the blue-hued Caribbean lagoons and waterfalls I was bathing in.
That vacation returned my spunk. I started to write again and with more depth, grit and was relentlessly honest. I gained a new appreciation for honesty.
For months, I didn’t have a job. I dabbled in freelancing while I lived off my rainy day fund as I searched for other careers.
Every time I saw a notification of a new job posting, I sincerely wished that this one was my dream job, but each time I came up empty-handed. I was offered positions but turned them down because I didn’t want a job that just paid my bills. I wanted a job that made me proud of my immense work ethic and my endless determination.
I never found it.
After facing disappointment time and time again, I took another daring leap. I decided then that I would create a job from scratch, a position that I’ve always dreamed of. For weeks, I brainstormed what my new job could be and I kept returning to two major elements: a writing career and something that allowed me to travel often. The answer was so painfully obvious at the beginning, but it took me until June to launch Quirky Globetrotter, a travel blog that filled all the gaps that I experienced in life.
It was risky starting my own business. Again, I faced with the reality that my travel blog wasn’t just a job, it was a lifestyle. This terrified me. I had just fled a depraved position that bled me dry of my ambition and self-esteem, I didn’t want that to happen again.
Being a business owner also meant giving up the “luxuries” that a typical 9-5 job offers. I was giving up being financially stable to live an exhilarating and adrenaline-filled life. At the end of the day, that didn’t matter to me. What I was creating has a lot more meaning to me than a lot of zeroes on my pay stub.
Cheesy to say, but I’m living my dream.
Ironically, I also started Quirky Globetrotter on a Tuesday. But on this Tuesday, I was fueled by excitement, not nervousness. I finally found a calling that would push me further than any other career had in the past.
Travel blogging has made me question my sanity, and at other times, makes me wheel at how incredibly blessed I am to call something my own that I nurture day in and day out. Not only that, but I’m my own killer boss slaying it and feeling more accomplished than at my 9-to-5 job.
There have been times where I’ve sat in an airport and cried out of frustration and desperately begged to have “normal” problems like everyone else. Yet, waking up at 4 a.m. to go photograph a sunset for my blog doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s exhilarating yet peaceful at the same time. There’s finally some harmony to my life.
What feels even more rewarding is that I’m not the only one. As a newspaper reporter, I felt stranded on a deserted island with no life preserver or way to signal SOS. Now, I feel content. There are other creatives and professionals online who are putting in long hours and can relate to my struggles, which means, you can do it too.
It’s going to be hard work, but you’ll feel inspired and passionate about the menial tasks you complete for your business. You’ll feel a greater sense of self-worth.
No, blogging or being an online entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. Yet, for me, it’s how I finally found my niche in the world.