I spent several years hustling in corporate America when I was single. It was all about getting money and getting ahead at any cost. I was in sales, and I was killing it. No matter what I was selling, I was one of the top salespeople. I won awards, bonuses, and lots of respect, but it was a small consolation because I didn’t have what I really wanted: a family of my own and freedom.
I’m a night owl by nature, so adhering to the kind of schedule Corporate America requires turned me into a hardcore caffeine addict. I can go to bed at 9:30 all I want, but my brain still won’t let me sleep until two or three in the morning (and seriously, don’t even talk to me before 10 am). By the time I got to Wednesday and Thursday each week, I was so sleep-deprived that I would have to drink at least 2 Monster energy drinks a day to stay awake and be functional. If I didn’t have a Monster in the morning, I’d get a terrible withdrawal headache. A few months ago, I was finally able to kick the habit, and it didn’t take 12 steps, just one: get the fuck out of corporate America.
After I got married, I decided I was sick of dealing with all the stress and self-destruction. I was at a very high-stress job that wanted me to be in the office 11-12 hours/day, and it was really screwing up my family life. By the time I got home, made dinner, and took care of the dogs, there was just about no time left for my husband and I to enjoy each other’s company. It was affecting my anxiety in a huge way, and one day I had the worst panic attack I’d had in years. That was the last straw; I knew I had to prioritize my family and my mental health, so I quit.
A couple days later, I was offered a contract position that allowed me to work from home and set my own hours. I didn’t need so much caffeine when I suddenly had the ability to start my work day at 10 or 11 am (when I’m more productive) instead of 8, didn’t have to fight rush hour traffic anymore, and didn’t have to work overtime because someone else wants me to work myself to death for their gain. Despite not needing such large doses of caffeine and other stimulants, my body was dependent on them, and the withdrawal side effects were terrible.
I decided to quit Monster cold turkey when the super fun morning headaches were suddenly coupled with chest pain. I’m only 34 and way too young to have a heart attack. It was really rough for the first month and I was tired all day, every day, but then it got better. The headaches and chest pain went away, and I’ve never felt better in my life. Now I typically start my day with a green smoothie full of fruit, spinach and kale instead of a heart attack in a can.
I’ve vowed to myself that I’ll stack as many contract gigs as necessary to avoid going back to the stress of corporate America. The money I could make if I did simply isn’t worth all the physical side effects, panic attacks, and lost family time. I never intend to go back to sales, corporate America, or Monster addiction. I know now that I’m worth so much more than that.