Finding Balance in a Type A World
It’s been over a year since I left my corporate job in NY. And not only did I leave my corporate job, but I also removed myself from NY. I know you are all thinking, “What the hell does she mean?” and “Is she batsh*t crazy — why would anyone leave NY?”
My journey began over a year ago. There was a typical corporate restructure at my former employer and I was offered a different position at the company, but opted for a package. I know most people would have taken the job for the security, the benefits and the other reasons that would justify you taking a job, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong — it took me a few days to come to this decision; I didn’t just say “Peace out!” This was a company that I had been at most of my career life — I had a second family and a home there. At the same time, I knew I had to do what was right for me. I knew I could do the job well but I also knew that I wouldn’t be challenged. I asked myself “Is this something that I will wake up to everyday feeling saying ‘I LOVE what I’m doing and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!’” or would I hate myself and regret not taking the chance to bet on me. I chose not to have any regrets and find a new path.
The truth is I was burnt out. I spent every minute at that job even if I was not at the office — I was the worst-case scenario of addicted you can imagine. I was “THAT” girl who slept with her smartphone next to her in bed, emailed C-level execs on Sunday night after dinner because I would get the highest response rate; “THAT” girl who would vigorously reply to a work email at 1am on a Friday night from a friend’s birthday; “THAT” girl who would be working on her vacation from a remote island because I couldn’t disconnect or was forced to connect by my employer. The sadder part is that 90% of this was driven by me and not the company.
Although I should have been scared of what would lie ahead, I took this as an opportunity to assess my life and what I wanted to change. I knew this was not the time to be looking for a new full-time job. I had seen what working in corporate America had done to me — I NEEDED to be busy and be connected all the time, but not to what matters. I lost touch with my goals, my dreams and myself. I made what my corporate life dictated for me — my life and my dream. I was in a full-time relationship with my job; it had become the most important thing in my life and I really knew nothing else. I hardly saw my friends, lost touch with things I enjoyed doing and what was important to me. I realized that I needed time to myself, to see what I really want to do — what really makes me happy.
Since we have all established I am a Type A nutcase, taking complete time off was not an option for me. I reached out to a few contacts to find some contract work because as much as I hate to admit it, 1-I am a type A persona true to the core and 2-I like having a stream of income. The beauty of consulting is that it allowed me to do the thing I love the most — travel.
I had a weekend trip planned to Paris for my birthday that fall which I extended since I no longer had to be in a physical place every morning. I bought a new ticket with a return date of 6 weeks not knowing where my travels would lead. But when my taxi entered Paris, I knew I wasn’t going to split my time and said to myself “You know what — I’m NOT having a plan for once in my life. I’m going to stay here and see what happens.”
The six weeks I spent in Paris were life changing. I was working remotely for American clients but I had a more relaxed state of existence. I learned to appreciate things more, to be bolder, to be more patient and more accepting of others. I took time to breathe and appreciate what was around me, which I never did in NY because I was always typing while I was walking in 4-inch heels no less! I became more present — I never took my phone out of my bag unless it was to call an UBER, I actually had real conversations with people, I spent less time on social media and I stopped watching TV. I had become a more relaxed person and valued my time and others more.
One thing did bother me in the pit of my stomach — the fact that I had to go back. I would talk to one of my closest friends about wanting to move to Paris permanently and she’d say, “Ab, you’ll get over it. Paris is beautiful and all, but there is something about the f*ck you of NY that you can’t say goodbye to.”
She was wrong. By day 2 of returning to NY I wanted out. I realized how everything was faster, but not in the good way. I realized for the first time in my life that NY really never stopped and as much as I live for success, never stopping is not sustainable. We always talk about how our environments affect us in science and psychology — NY had burnt me out. Even though I was doing contract work and not a 9–9 job (let’s be real, we all know 9–5 no longer exists) all the stress came back — the hot temper, the muscle knots, everything that is NY, everything that WAS me returned within a week.
As much as I will always be a NY-er — I asked myself “Is this really the right way to live? Is there something better?” I mean, we are here to take in what the world offers, but have we all got warped along the way? What do we have to show for it — Material possessions? A fancy title? A high-powered job? Shouldn’t our accomplishments be more about experiences and understanding the world around us and actually living our life?
Long story short-I packed my bags and am currently living in Paris. Not sure where I will land next, but right now this is home to me. I’m not saying Paris or anywhere else is perfect. BUT I do know I am happier now, value different things in life and overall less stressed. I think if you feel that you need a change in your life, living somewhere else is the best experience you can give yourself — it gives you a new perspective you normally wouldn’t have and opens your eyes to new possibilities. I’m not fully where I want to be in my path to self-discovery, but I am now closer than I ever was. And as cliché as this sounds, all endings are beginnings, we just don’t know it at the time — you just need a new point of view, or ultimately a new surrounding.