Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
By the time I’d left, I’d spent nearly ten years doing it. Every morning, I was awake shortly after five o’clock. Before seven, I was at my desk, at least one cup of coffee already drunk, and several more on their way.
The day I finally quit was like any other, but the week preceding it wasn’t. Earlier that week, an arrogant and important client had sworn at me. Specifically, he’d told me I was stupid, “f-cking stupid”. But that wasn’t what bothered me. On trading floors, everyone gets sworn at. What incensed me, to the point of very taboo tears, was that he’d hung up on me. I don’t know about you, but there’s something so profoundly ill-mannered about putting the phone down on someone else’s voice. It’s just completely…dismissive.
Anyway, having spent the last several years frustrated and near my own boiling point, it was this act of dismissive arrogance that pushed me to the edge. And it was a third shot of tequila that evening that finally pushed me over it.
“If you stay in banking,” my best friend Meghan said to me that night at a Mexican bar in Manhattan’s West Village, “one thing can happen.” She paused for effect, and went on. “But if you go, anything can happen.” Stunned into silent contemplation, I looked out the window at the blizzard that was putting its finishing touches on blanketing the city in a soft white.
This blog is part of a series about changing careers and following dreams. To read prior posts, click on the following links:
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Continued: What if...you did it?
This blog is part of a series featured by International Life magazine. Click the link to read the introduction to the series.
Remember that apartment I told you about? My “dream home in my dream city”? “Room-with-a-view sort of place”? As I wrote in my last entry in this series, my Manhattan apartment had been my dream, but was quickly turning itself into my prison. Everything in it: the art, the designer furniture, even the air-conditioning; reminded me that I was existing on borrowed time. Better said, perhaps: a borrowed life. As much as I loved my home, surely I couldn’t love it as much as I hated a life un-lived.
So, I sold it.
It’s funny those decisions you make that you think are going to ruin you, going to irreparably change the idea of who you are. They don’t.
At the top of the housing market, I met with a real estate agent. ‘We can get a good price for this,’ he assured me, quoting numbers I knew I should accept. Instead, I didn’t. Not yet anyway. Too emotionally devoted to the life I’d spent all those years carving for myself, I hung on to the fleeting opportunity to make leaving it financially easy. Two years later, in the middle of the real estate bust, I finally sold.
Regrettable? Maybe. Or maybe not.
No longer on a banker’s salary, and without the comfort of a tidy profit on my housing investment, I was hungry. ‘Hungry’, as in, ‘devoted’. Suddenly, I had to make it, and I wasn’t going to arrive wherever I was going by coasting. This dream I believed I had, and I still wasn’t sure what it was – it would have to be real.