These past few weeks Henry has been a very early riser, so we’ve hit the streets for a morning walk at 6 am. It’s still pitch black out and there’s hardly anyone on the streets, so I’ve been using the time to really think about what I’m grateful for. And there is so, so much.
Because it was just Thanksgiving, in lieu of a normal newsletter, I wanted to share an extremely lucky event from a few years ago.
My jump across the pond
In 2012 I graduated from my MBA program at Duke, eager for a career change. I’d been a CPA at PwC for 5 years and I wanted something where I could be a little more creative. After two great years in business school I was offered a position in marketing at P&G, the best opportunity I could have asked for.
Just as I was finding my feet in my new career, Jordan was offered a job in London. Because I was so focused on my career and wanted desperately to make something of it (and because I was $120k in student loan debt), I was hesitant to say yes to the move. I’d always dreamed of living in London but I was terrified of what it would do for my professional future.
Eventually, I agreed to go. Once we were settled into our new flat, I hit the job search hard. I sent my resume everywhere, I worked with recruiters, and I was determined. I wanted to find a position with a big name company and thought that my work experience and a degree from a top business school would help me get it.
After months of searching, I had nothing to show. I felt like a failure. On top of that, I worried that the longer I stayed out of the workforce, the more difficult it would be to explain the gap. (“Oh, those six months? I was unemployed because I couldn’t convince anyone to hire me.”)
Finally, I received an offer from a big tech company. I was thrilled. It had an impressive name and when I told people who I worked for I’d get a lot of ooohs and ahs. Finally, I was back on top.
I won’t get into the nitty, gritty details but my first day there I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. You know when you can just feel when something isn’t right deep down? I had that sickening feeling an hour into my employment.
While I tried my best to stick it out — because this was a big important job with a big important paycheck — I couldn’t.
From my last day….
I gave my notice but in the UK we have extremely lengthy notice periods. My last day of work wouldn’t be for 3 more months! You can imagine how awkward it is to quit and then still have to work somewhere for 3 months. But at least this would give me time to job search.
While I fully anticipated staying the 3 months like a good employee, I hit a breaking point two weeks later after a very dramatic team meeting.
It was 10 am on a random Thursday morning and I couldn’t sit there anymore. Not for one more minute. I packed my bag without saying a word to anyone, walked out of the building, and hailed a cab. My heart was racing as I took out my phone and sent an email to HR telling them that I wouldn’t be coming back. Ever.
As I walked into our empty flat I started hyperventilating. I was officially unemployed. By choice. Without any job prospects. And a lot of student debt. Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
A lot of profanities were muttered.
I took out my computer and rather than aimlessly sending out more resumes, I started writing.
The last 3 years haven’t been perfect. I’ve floundered. I’ve cried. I’ve doubted myself a lot.
I started doing consulting work, for anyone in any industry. I started writing about money in business and personal finance. I worked with amazing clients but also had inconsistent income. Things were really scattered in the beginning. But because I didn’t feel like I had any other option, I kept going.
Today, companies pay me to write about money. Jordan and I have a content marketing business for financial planners, and building a business with him is so rewarding. And — my favorite — I write this newsletter every single week for The Worth Project. I feel so lucky to have thousands of readers let me into their inbox and their lives on a weekly basis. I can’t begin to even describe how enormously grateful I am for this.
This is a career that I never could have imagined. Ever. I still deal with imposter syndrome. Just last month I told one of my editors, “I’m not a real writer, but…” (She promptly cut me off and corrected me). I still sometimes feel like the job I have is inferior to people who work for (insert big, impressive company name here).
But, I’m happy. And I am so thankful that I took the wrong job. If it hadn’t been so unbearable, I probably wouldn’t have left.
It can be so easy to be down on yourself. To focus on what went wrong, rather than what went right. But sometimes we have to take a look back and appreciate all the good that has come from these rough times.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.
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I’m not a big gift person, but I love embracing this festive time of year. Need some ideas on how to bring cheer into your life this season? Check out Not A Holiday Gift Guide.
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Erica Gellerman, CPA
Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project: a weekly money newsletter you actually want to read. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom, and Lifehacker. When she's not writing about personal finance you can find Erica exploring Europe from her temporary home base in London.