I’ve been on sabbatical for one year.
Let me start off by saying none of my profiles say Silicon Valley. I haven’t revolutionized anything. I’m not an influencer.
But I have done something a lot of people seek out— I worked my butt off to create something and now I’ve been financially independent because of it.
I was a full-time entrepreneur. I was my own boss. I had tripled my salary from my previous job. And and I was completely in over my head, seven days a week.
Then, I got professionally broken up with: I was bought out of my business.
So, involuntary sabbatical.
Right after this happened, I ran into someone I knew at a local coffee shop. He asked about my next steps. Me, being newly business single, I told him I wasn’t sure but I would definitely be traveling. He told me he had a friend who is in a similar scenario and, “she just picked up and moved. She’s in now in Australia!”
“Australia?!,” I thought.
After hearing that I was so ready to “Eat, Pray, Love” the hell out of my life. “Eat your freaking heart out, Liz Gilbert,” I thought. I pictured myself coming back more enlightened, tanned, and freckled.
Because before the buyout, my butt was starting to get lumpy. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was tired all the time. I was ignoring text messages from friends, screening calls from my parents and, little by little, pushing away my boyfriend.
I needed to find myself and give her a movie-montage makeover.
But, before I booked my once-in-a-lifetime trip I decided I would buy a house. Partly because I thought it was a smart move and partly because I had never had money like this—and to be honest, I didn’t really know what to do with it.
So I bought my house. And then…
…I just stayed there.
I nested. I ordered an assload from Wayfair, bought a lawn-mower and started having dinner parties that looked like I stole a display from Crate and Barrel. I was basically a full-time-housewife to myself.
I kept telling people I would eventually travel. Eventually go on some writing retreat.
But as my year mark approached, I realized I needed to figure out what my next steps were.
So I started picking up freelance work. I waited for the next idea to hit me. I was ready to come back, guns blazing. I was ready to reclaim my seat on the entrepreneur throne. A throne made up of Facebook-event invites and iCal notifications.
Then right before my non-work-iversary, I came up with the idea for Help Me Andie. I got a website (from a very talented friend), set-up Mailchimp, made an attempt at Instagram, and created a long Facebook post so I could let my friends and family know “I’m back, baby.”
But our soft-launch was underwhelming. And I started to have constant knots in my stomach. I would wake up at 2:00AM and bake. I’d wonder if I wasted a year, my money and my dignity.
I got a little more cellulite. I ignored more texts, calls, and intimacy. There was one day that I felt so gross I didn’t want to let my bug guy in. MY BUG GUY.
This sabbatical turned out to be wasted time, I thought. What did I have to show for it?
Then, I had that moment. Well, maybe not one singular moment. In fact, I’m not really sure when it happened. But I know it was somewhere in between the midnight-panic-attack-cakes I baked and all that awkwardness I felt answering the, “So what have you been up to lately?” question.
I had my moment everyone waits for while on sabbatical. And that epiphany came in the form of two words:
Fuck taking myself so seriously and calling it sabbatical– I’m unemployed. Fuck feeling bad for not traveling yet. Fuck thinking I need to have a comeback. Fuck checking Instagram all the time (it’s mostly booty-cam girls who follow us anyway). Fuck what my high-school reunion blurb would say. Fuck the hustle. Fuck not sleeping. Fuck panic attacks. Fuck feeling bad for taking my time.
So instead of all that wasted energy spent obsessing over others’ perception of myself—I worked on myself. I prioritized what was important to me at that time. And that was creating a comfy home base. Writing. Having midnight conversations on my patio. Having coffee in the morning with my boyfriend. Taking my dog on long walks.
I know this much: eventually, I’ll travel. Eventually, I’ll once again find success from something I create. These are important things.
But so are doing squats. So is making time just to chat, to pay attention to the news, to plain old make out with your person.
As an entrepreneur, I was always great at staying late to work on a project. I was phenomenal at giving the “just let me send one quick email” line.
I was awful at scheduling the good-stuff, though.
And though I didn’t travel the world, my year-long sabbatical (or unemployment) gave me the time to learn that.
So here’s my new mission- and a call to action for those who are like me:
Squeeze those business tasks in between the life tasks, not the other way around.
And remember: We can always aim for freckled, tanned, and enlightened. But it’s also perfectly fine to say “fuck it,” and settle for just-went-outside-with-sunscreen status and a little more self-awareness.