Alright, I am finally tackling the questions you all submitted through my recent Instagram poll around my decision to leave the corporate world! If you missed the announcement, I shared the news in this post.
There were 150+ questions submitted but most of them were variations of questions around a handful of topics. So I’m going to break this up into a few posts to make it more manageable for me to tackle and much easier for y’all to read. Otherwise, it may take me forever to hit publish.
One of the most requested post topics was specifically around WHY I left the corporate world, how I came to the decision, and my thoughts on the transition so far.
Even though it’s only been a few months, my thoughts and feelings have changed quite a bit as my resignation adrenaline has begun to wear off and I’ve started settling into a better routine and daily structure. I don’t know how things will continue to change for me — especially 6 months or a year from now. All that to say, it’s really hard to change your opinion on the internet, so just know that this transition is still very much in progress and may look or feel different as time goes on.
Why did you leave the corporate world?
A lot of factors went into this decision. There wasn’t one specific reason, but many. The simplest answer is the pressure and expectations were often all too consuming. As our kids, my career, Carolina Charm, and Matt’s business have simultaneously grown, it became increasingly difficult to keep my family at the forefront while working full time. The stress within our home was becoming unmanageable and I began worrying my kids would remember me working all.the.time, always exhausted and attached to my computer. They could see me drowning and more often I began to feel like I didn’t have anything left to give to my family by the end of each work day — and it was eating me up inside. The stirring in my heart was becoming stronger to change course and after hitting a pretty ugly breaking point, the path we needed to take for our family was clear.
Pre-kids, what was your plan? / What made now the right time and not when you had babies at home?
Before we had kids our plan was for me to be a stay-at-home mom. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I loved having her with us all the time and seeing her in the halls of our school regularly. However, back in 2014 we needed my income (even though it was very, very small after daycare was paid each month) and more importantly, we needed my health insurance. You can read my post on Returning To Work After Maternity Leave. The following year Thomas joined our family and our health insurance became even more critical between his unexpected medical condition and my double mastectomy surgeries. For the next two years we blew through our insurance deductible within the first quarter of each year and were drowning in medical bills. Matt was working around the clock to grow his firm and I was hustling to grow my career too. Then, in 2017 I accepted a new job opportunity that catapulted my career. I loved that job so much and felt incredibly fulfilled and wanted to keep climbing the corporate ladder.
Was this in the works for a while or was it a sudden decision? What made now the right time?
It was definitely not a sudden decision. At the end of every year, Matt and I have a family planning meeting where we review our career/family/finance goals and this has ALWAYS been a topic of conversation but not one that we spent too much time on…until the pandemic.
Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, our conversations around me staying home were becoming more frequent and more serious as I was slowly unraveling through the pandemic. And while the pandemic truly launched the conversation, it was just one of many reasons we began seriously discussing me leaving the corporate world.
Other significant factors that made now the right time included Thomas going to Kindergarten, no more daycare payments, the kids ages and their needs changing, our finances, Carolina Charm, Matt’s business, summertime, and some private reasons.
Do you plan to go back to the corporate world when the kids are older? / Do you have a timeline in mind for when/if you’ll return to work?
It’s hard to say at this point. As of right now, I am enjoying this new challenge, but it is possible I’ll return to the corporate world one day.
Did it feel embarrassing to tell career people you were quitting? Like you were giving up?
I really struggled with telling my team and especially my attorneys that I was leaving the corporate world. I wasn’t embarrassed of my decision, but I was apprehensive about how my decision would be received if that makes sense. However, I cannot say enough great things about the outpouring of support I received from my department leaders, team members, and attorneys.
But in full transparency, I am still struggling with this. When I meet new people (especially working parents) and they ask me what I do now…I feel the need to first say “I just left the corporate world after 10 years…” and then the rest of my answer varies. I usually quickly calculate the person’s ability to understand the blogging world and will sometimes share that I’m blogging full time now. But if I think that would be too confusing, I simply finish the sentence with “and am now home with my kids full time.” I know this question will get easier to answer with time and practice, but being a corporate working mom is just so deeply ingrained in my identity still so the question throws me off every time still. Matt, however, loves to tell anyone who will listen that I’m a full-time blogger!
Are you struggling with missing your identity with work outside the house?
While growing my career over the past 10 years, I have simultaneously dedicated so much time and love to Carolina Charm, so the blog has also been a huge part of my identity. For more than a decade I have used this platform to share so much of our life — the good, the bad, the low points, and the milestones. It truly brings me so much joy to share new recipes, outfits, mom hacks, our weekend recaps, random gadgets that make our life easier, trips and SO much more with this community. And being able to now do it full time while the kids are in school is a dream come true.
So in terms of my working mom identity, spending more time on Carolina Charm is filling the corporate work void in many ways, though I can completely understand how most people would not understand this.
Do you regret leaving?
For as much as I agonized over whether or not this was the right decision, I couldn’t be happier or more confident about this new chapter. And my family is happier too.
What do you miss about working?
I miss my colleagues and many of my attorneys. For years I talked to some of my favorite people every day. And I miss traveling to see them in person too. I also miss some aspects of my job — strategic planning, creating new processes, launching big initiatives, planning client events and seminars, brainstorming with colleagues, and attorney coaching.
Oh, and I miss my salary, parking pass, HSA, and flex spending accounts.
What did you think you’d miss but you don’t?
I love this question. Hmmm…
I worried I would miss my physical office Uptown and getting dressed in business attire from time to time. Turns out I do not miss either yet.
Curious if you are more or less stressed now?
One of the most impactful changes for our family has been that Matt and I are no longer competing over who had the tougher work day. Before leaving the corporate world, our evenings often started off tense while Matt and I were trying to simultaneous shift from work mode to parent mode. And it was hard for me to empathize with the hard day Matt had when I was still drowning in my own. While I am just as busy as I was while working full time (and even busier at times which blows my mind), life feels TOTALLY different now without the mental load of my corporate job. For the first time in my life, I would say I am NOT stressed out, which was one of the goals of me leaving my corporate job, and has already become such a positive outcome for our family.
How is your mental load/mental health?
Even though I swear I heard phantom team chat dinging noises coming from my home office for weeks after all of my equipment was returned, a tremendous mental load was INSTANTANEOUSLY lifted the moment my work email was removed from my phone at 6 pm on my last day of work. The disconnection from email and team chat messages (that simultaneously rang from my laptop, my phone, and my apple watch) was truly indescribable.
Since leaving my corporate job I have so much more capacity to slow down and be present with my kids which was something our family really needed. Before leaving the corporate world, I felt like a cruise director on auto pilot just moving people as fast as possible through routines and getting everyone where they need to go. My brain was constantly spinning a million miles a minute in different directions (Did I thaw the meat? Did I put the napkins in Caroline’s backpack for her class party? I need to respond to this email ASAP but my kids need breakfast. etc.) and while it’s still spinning, it’s way more manageable now!
Alright, I think that covers the questions around why I left and how the transition is going. If y’all liked this post and are interested in hearing more about my transition, I’ll keep working through the rest of the questions!