Break Away

When we were kids, my brother and I both knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to be a hairdresser, he wanted to be an architect. Without any support from our parents, we both managed to put ourselves through school and achieve these goals, even when life sometimes took us off that path.

After my youngest son moved out 3 years ago, Wil and I had a new found freedom and flexibility in our lives. Wil was starting to travel more for work and since I had my own business and made my own schedule, I would book clients around those trips and travel with him. I was meeting so many awesome, creative people from all over the world, which was really inspiring. But then I would come home and go back to being a hairdresser, which started feeling less and less fulfilling every time I went to the salon. I actually started to resent it.

My whole life I had wanted to have this career. I worked my ass off as a single parent working as a waitress to put myself through school. I had interned, worked as an employee in a salon, and built up my clientele before going out on my own. I built all of this up over 17 years and didn’t want to do it anymore. It took me a year and half to actually say this out loud to Wil and when I finally did, he was completely supportive of me doing what made me happy. After our discussion, I went to Lake Tahoe with my friend for 4 days to be away and figure out if this is really what I wanted.  I made up my mind and when I went back to work, I started telling my clients I was retiring.  Several of them had been with me at least 15 years, so I gave them 11 weeks notice to get them through the holidays, even giving them a couple of great referrals to send them to once I was gone. During those 11 weeks, I was excited, scared, nervous and sad, but I knew it was the right decision.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary of retiring. I thought about when I was said my last goodbye, packed up all of my belongings, and took one last walk down the main street in town, all decorated with twinkle lights. I thought about how I cried that whole drive home, finally stopping as I pulled in to our driveway.

I remembered walking in to our house that night, balloons and banners with “Happy Retirement” on them filling my living room, my dining room table displaying a huge bouquet of flowers on it, candles lit, champagne in glasses, and a card on one of the two dinner plates. I remembered crying as I read the sweet words of love and support Wil had written in it, while he served up an amazing dinner, complete with gourmet cupcakes for dessert. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful part of my life, and I was ready to start something new.

I’ve heard that the average adult changes careers four times in their life. I don’t know why I thought I had to stick with one thing when I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Everyone told me I would miss being a hairdresser and it’s funny, I don’t miss it at all. I did it and enjoyed it, but I was ready to move on. Life is too short to not do what you love. Change is scary, but if you have the desire and focus to try something new, change is good. I highly recommend it.


30 thoughts on “Break Away

  1. As someone grappling with some of those feelings personally, I really appreciate you putting this out there. It helps to know it’s not just me.

    Merry Christmas, and best of the future to you and Wil.

  2. Oh Anne your writing is so brilliant. Please write a memoir, I’d love to read it.
    As someone with well over 4 careers in her life, I totally agree. Chase what you love. And don’t be trapped by accidental competence – getting stuck doing something you don’t like just because you’re good at it.
    Happy holidays to you & Will.

  3. Anne, do you see yourself embarking on a new career now, or do you think you’ll be more like Wil, who seems to be juggling several different careers that are all related?

    1. I don’t have plans to start a specific career. I just have lots of different things I’d like to try and see where it takes me. Woohoo!

  4. It takes courage to make a bug change. Most people never do it.

    I’m currently trying to listen to my heart to figure out what I want to do next. That’s a challenge.

  5. Thank you for writing this. Back in October I quit my job of eight years, despite the fact that it paid well, was close to my house, and I loved my co-workers. But I had grown to hate the job itself, even though it was a job I had once wanted. I’m still trying to figure out what my next thing is, and it’s incredibly scary since I’m doing this on my own. I experience a great deal of anxiety over my decision, and panic and fear over every worst-case scenario my mind can dream up. But I don’t miss my job. I hope I can find something that brings fulfillment into my life the way your recent work has done for you. I enjoy reading your tweets and now your blog. You’re a wonderfully inspiring individual.

    1. I wasn’t even entirely sure what I wanted to do next, I just knew the current thing I was doing was making me unhappy. You will find what you love eventually. Good for you for taking those steps!

  6. Thanks for writing this! Our circumstances have changed and now with the birth of my second child I have the opportunity to leave my career of nearly 10 years to stay home while my children are young. It’s awesome and scary to be making such a huge change.

    It helps knowing that others have faced the same/similar changes with such grace.

  7. Yay for you Anne! Such a big decision to make, particularly when you were running your own business.
    I worked for 8 years as a writer/editor/designer, which I enjoyed, but realised I had no career ambitions within the field. So at age 30 I had a massive career change – I went to med school. Now I’m nearly 40 and on the way to becoming a Paediatrician. It’s been tough (financially, mostly), but I love my job and I’m glad I made the change. And the great thing about medicine is that I can make smaller career changes along the way, e.g. academic medicine, clinical medicine, private vs public practice, and so on. I’m excited about the future!

    1. Good for you! That’s a huge change and big commitment with school but how awesome that you did that and love it!!

  8. It was very brave of you to do what your heart told you, and I commend you for that. Thank you for reminding the rest of us that it’s okay to do that sometimes.

    One day, perhaps I’ll join you. 🙂

  9. I remember talking with my hairdresser and warning him that if he ever decides to move, he has to give me his new address. I will then have to find a new job near to where he moved.
    Seriously! I’m thrilled you were able to make the move. It is a scary thought. I was working at line hospital for 31 years. Chose to leave behind 6 months of sick time and 5 weeks vacation for a place with better attitude to staff.

  10. And I thought it was a scary thought to change careers at 25 (required going back to school for a second bachelor’s degree), I can’t imagine doing it once more established. I have so much respect when people recognize that they’re not happy and made the switch. I got tons of questions when I told people I was leaving the statistics and research field to become a nurse, but I am sooooo much happier when I go to work for a 12 hour shift than I ever was doing the number crunching for other people’s research studies.

  11. Eleven years ago, I left my corporate (office) life to join the film industry in California. I’ve had principal roles and background acting gigs; I’ve done PA work and photo-doubling and standing-in; I’ve served as head of Craft Services, and then I learned to Script Supervise and have had two good years of that. I learned that “on set” is my favorite place in the world, and there’s only one job “on set” that I will never do again – Craft Services! (I love a good “Crafty” but I ain’t one!)

    Last year, my husband and I decided to leave California to help his ailing father in NC. While it could easily be seen as one of the worst decisions of our lives (his dad died the day before we arrived), there’s been a good bit of growth, too. He’s gotten a good jump-start on his own writing career (finally! and thankfully), I’ve recorded a (not-great-but-it’s-a-start) Voice Acting demo CD, and thanks in some small part to YOUR having started a blog, I have as well!

    We’re working on making our next dream come true – an exuberant, if not “triumphant” return to our true home, Los Angeles. Growth is just a part of life – if we don’t allow ourselves to change our minds, how will we ever grow? On my deathbed, I hope to look back at a wildly-adventurous and completely fulfilled life.

  12. Change can be scary. I know when I met my love and decided to leave my country and go to live with him it was both terrifying and awesome. Everyone thought I was insane. Leaving behind all the familiar feels crazy, but that is what adventure is about. Following our hearts can lead to amazing places and things. I’m glad the change has made you happy!

  13. I was also a hair dresser. I wanted to be a nurse but my mother told me I wasn’t smart enough and hair dressing would always be there for me to fall back on. I worked full time as a hair dresser so I could pay my way through nursing school. I have been a RN for 28 years. Family members still ask for hair cuts.

    1. That’s funny, how you’ve proven your family wrong, but they’ll probably always still see you as “Little Karen” who cuts hair.

      I cut and/or color my own hair… that is the extent of my foray into the world of beauty.

  14. I’m thinking about leaving the beauty industry, too – haha – for about the last 18 months. It’s been a great 17 years but I need to do other things. Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll miss being an Esthetician and that I won’t find anything as good as what I have.

    It’s paid for a house and supported a family but now that my son is 19 and off and running, it’s way past time to turn the wax pot off.

    Thanks for putting your story out there.

    1. I think people decide we’re going to miss it because we’re good at it. I feel the same way. It served its purpose, was a fun thing for a while, but now I want to do something else and that’s ok. Let me know what you end up doing. 🙂

  15. You know, I wouldn’t think of it as retiring. Like many others, I have shifted careers and went back to school to do other things. I do not think that a person with your intelect is never really going to be “retired”, just look what you have started here. The trick is to do what you love but know when to quit. I would say that what you are feeling is a little emptyness for making a solid decision and then forcing yourself to actually do it. Here is what happens. Our mind does not want to remember the bad times, so as time goes by, we regret the decision that we made and remember with rosy glass nostalgia. Don’t do that to yourself.
    Instead, why not explore this thing that you have started here? Really use your husbands excelent example and feel free to write on any subject. I am sure your circle of friends would love to help you explore this idea. Try a little fiction, write a lyric for a song, post it all.
    Bring it, we’re listining,

    1. That’s an interesting point of view. I think of it as retiring from being a hairdresser because I’m not ever going to do it again. I don’t regret the decision to follow through on my plan to have that career because I loved it for a really long time. My focus just drifted because it wasn’t a thing I loved anymore and I knew I needed a change. Plus, it became a physical issue which made me lose even more interest in it.

      I am loving having my little blog and appreciate your kind, supportive words on encouraging me to write more. It had never been a passion of mine but who knows, maybe that’ll change!

  16. I left my career as a teacher in 2011 after 25 years. Although I miss “my kids”, I don’t miss the job at all and am enjoying a second career in the business world.

    I am so glad you started blogging- I love it! I started following you on Twitter after being intrigued by Wil’s retweets. You quickly became my favorite Twitter person!

  17. Good for you. I am on my second career and planning for my third for when I retire. I thought that I was betraying myself when I decided to change careers – but you are not. You are doing what you want and how can that be wrong.

  18. I fell sideways into a career in IT as a technical writer about five years ago. The money was better than I had ever imagined, there were jobs aplenty, a lot of my friends were in the industry, and I was REALLY good at it. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t happy at all. I even quit for a while when I found out our dog was dying, in order to have more time with him, and I still couldn’t figure out what to do with myself. So after he passed I got back into IT, and was still miserable.

    A few weeks ago I was offered a position teaching English at one of the local community colleges. I start in January. I’ve never been more excited to start a new job, and I’m utterly terrified in the best possible way. I think this could be the career I was looking for.

    But the best lesson my stint in IT has taught me is that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, and if in another five years I’m doing something completely different.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself and trying new things. I think we should all get a chance to try on some new hats once in a while. 🙂

  19. When you originally posted this, it was during a time when I was questioning my career choice and making tough decisions. In fact, I think I even thanked you on Twitter for sharing this when you did. Your words became part of a very long process of making a decision and putting that decision into action.

    I decided when I was thirteen that I wanted to be a teacher, and in the twenty years since I made that decision, I’d never wavered from it. I was growing restless, though, and I felt stagnant. I considered graduate studies, but with teaching full-time and having a special needs child, I felt that now wasn’t the time. I kept remembering your blog, though. I kept thinking.

    Early February, I had an awful day at work. I came home crying. I decided to look at a school district I’d always wanted to be a part of, but I was too chicken to apply to. On their website was a list of open positions for next school year, including one I’d dreamt of having. Within an hour, my application was complete. Within four days, I’d updated my resume, gotten letters of recommendation, and submitted my college transcripts. I was called for an interview a week later. Last week, I found out that the position is mine.

    My husband suggested I tell you this. He said, “She inspired you to make a change. I don’t know Anne, but I think she’d like to know that.” So, thank you again. This post helped me.

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