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Why I Decided to Jump Off instead of Lean In

Working Mom of Two Hilarious Girls Drowns Slowly in Middle Management Hell

That’s the headline I pictured when I imagined my husband finding my body slumped on the floor in my home office, my forehead bruised from frequent beating on the desk; eyes rolled back in an eternal expression of WTF?

It was the age-old story: Girl gets an assistant editor job. She does good work, so she moves up to managing editor. She does more good work, so she moves up to editor in chief. Before you know it, the girl is the head of her department. Now, instead of doing good work that she loves and she is proud of, she sits in meetings (way, way too many meetings) and she talks about budgets and she deals with personnel issues and she pays bills.

And then one day, she realizes she can’t breathe.

An optimist by nature, I struggled to identify the gross feeling I carried in my chest all day, every day. Turns out, it was hopelessness. I felt trapped, like I had no option other than to stay in a job that brought in a good-size paycheck but zero joy. I stayed up too late, I snapped at my husband and kids, and I “lived” in a constant state of anxiety.

When the company I worked for for nearly 15 years sold, I hoped so hard that the change would bring a new energy and purpose to my work. It didn’t. Now, I had the added stress of worrying that my new bosses would discover that I sucked at my job. (Which I didn’t, but try telling that to my oh-so-over-it brain.)

So, I walked away from a decade and a half of steady employment with great benefits and dove headfirst into who-the-hell-knows-what-happens-next. And I couldn’t be happier.

I know I am fortunate and I count my blessings daily. I have a sweet husband who convinced me to jump because he knew I wouldn’t fall. I have kids who enjoy their mom’s company again. Curiously, I’ve discovered I love substitute teaching. (Who the heck would have seen that coming?) I have a growing freelance writing and editing business that forces me out of my comfort zone daily, and it’s amazing!

There is no moral to this story; it’s just my story. It’s why there is a Wayward Hedgehog Editorial Services to promote and there is not a sad lady sitting at my desk wondering when everything became so … well … sad.

Now that my brain is re-engaged with work, I recognize that I really am good at what I do. I’m an accomplished writer and editor with years of experience in tech publishing and plenty of people to vouch for me, and I’m a kick-ass substitute teacher. But looking in the rearview, it’s humbling to see how I got here. Burnout is real. Anxiety is real. And I am lucky.