Listen to the little voice
You know when you’re on a road trip to Bosnia and all of a sudden you’re like, “Holy crap, I’m in Bosnia”? Did that not happen to you a few days ago? Because it happened to me. I got up in the morning and decided to take a road trip to Bosnia, as you do when you wake up in Croatia. You see, I’m currently traveling around the world. I quit my entire life back in August in order to travel and work remotely. Randomly going to Bosnia or Bali for the weekend has become a typical thing. I am very, very lucky. I know that. I know that few people get to do what I’m doing and that even fewer have the luxury to do it while exploring fantastical life projects like writing books and cooking with grandmothers from around the world.
It wasn’t always like this and it won’t always be like this. I’m living on limited finances and borrowed time after spending nearly a decade trying to make real-life work in New York City. The trajectory of quitting, though, lead me to this place. A place where I get to wake up in the morning and go to Bosnia, or perhaps, sip a cappuccino on the banks of the Mekong River in Cambodia. How did I get here? I quit. Frequently.
I went to culinary school and waited tables at an Italian restaurant until I quit because the owner told me I couldn’t look certain customers in the eye…because they were part of the mafia. So, I got a job as a coat check girl in a high end restaurant and then begged the chef for a pay cut and a job in the kitchen. I worked there until I quit because I got tired of getting yelled at over things I couldn’t control, like being short and not being able to reach a box full of apples. I took a better line cook job but quickly quit after a chronic injury flared up. I quit a food distribution desk job in Manhattan because I was physically bored, and then I quit a wine-making job on Long Island because I was mentally bored.
After months of unemployment, I co-founded Prohibition Bakery
, NYC’s first and only alcoholic cupcake company. We opened a store on the Lower East Side in 2012 and published a cookbook
in 2015 (buy my book! It’s awesome and you look like you need to get drunk on cupcakes right now.) Selling boozy cupcakes in Manhattan is not the way to mass riches and we poured any profit back into the business. The day to day stress and personal financial burden steadily chipped away at my physical health and already precarious mental health. I took a few freelance jobs in the fitness industry to stop the fiscal bleeding, which helped alleviate some of the stress, but happiness wasn’t even on my radar. I was just trying to get through every day.
It wasn’t until the opportunity to travel dropped into my lap that I finally looked around and realized that what I was doing to myself was just stupid. I wasn’t gaining anything from being sick all the time or from taking a cocktail of medications designed to get me through the life I chose to live. I had to make a change, and it had to be drastic. So, I left.
This series of disjointed career pivots makes for a terrible resume. It also pisses off people with kids. Right now someone is out there fuming, starting to write some sort of comment that basically says, “You obviously don’t know what it’s like to have KIDS and a MORTGAGE and ACTUAL RESPONSIBILITY. What a bunch of privileged, millennial, bullshit.” You are correct, good sir or ma’am! I don’t know what it’s like to have kids or a mortgage, which also means I don’t have any of that unconditional love thing. Or a home. So how about you take your unconditional love and shelter, and I’ll take my theories on quitting for the sake of sanity and personal development. We both win. Never quit being you.
What do I know is that I got myself in a position where taking an impromptu road trip to Bosnia is totally normal because eventually I finally listened to that little voice inside of me said this job/this relationship/this city/this business is no longer working for you. It didn’t matter if the job was perfect on paper. It didn’t matter if the relationship had a long history. It didn’t matter if I’d grown roots in a place. It didn’t even matter if it was my own business. All of these things had to end in order for me to get here, right now, writing as I gaze over the Adriatic Sea.