“I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.” —Unknown
It’s human nature to try to get ahead from where we are. To always push the boundaries. Four years ago, I wished upon a star—literally—to have a successful vegan baking business. I had no idea where to start, but I started anyway.
The next day I drove to the store and grabbed any ingredient that looked good. I came home and made my first creation: “Twix”Bars. Pretty ambitious for a first try. They didn’t come out perfect. Actually, pretty far from it.
In those first few months there were tons of failed attempts, missing ingredients, inconsistencies and a lot of burnt cookies. But somewhere in the process of it all, I fell in love with baking, with creating. But more so, it was a love for creating something different, something I couldn’t get where I lived. It was a thrilling feeling to know I provided something no one else could offer.
And it’s true, my hometown had nothing to offer in the form of gluten-free, let alone vegan. Two thirds of the population didn’t even know what vegan was, nor did they want to.
But over the next four years I watched my hobby bloom. I went from feeding just my family to serving hundreds of customers. I gave everything I had to my business—my time, love, attention, tears—and I watched my life shrink. Issues, wants and needs that I should have addressed in the past, got put on the back burner. I didn’t set boundaries for my business and that was my number one mistake.
Often I think to myself that maybe I just didn’t want it enough, maybe if I would have given more of myself, it would have gone differently. But I know that isn’t really the solution. I needed time to heal, to explore, to live. So at the start of this year I threw in the towel—the dishcloth, rather. I decided it was time to take a break. To try something new. And for a while I felt extremely guilty about it—leaving all of the customers and vendors I had made connections with, taking away an option for those who had finally found one.
But I had to remind myself. This is my life. And as much as I want to live for others, I need to make some room in my life for myself. I need to pay attention to the things that keep me up at night, to the issues that aren’t just going away, like I thought they would. So here I am in a new country, trying to do just that. And believe me, I’ve made tons of room to do just that.
It’s really scary, essentially starting a new life. And yes, I have a lot of doubts. Did I make a mistake? What am I doing with my life? Am I wasting my time? Who am I now that I’m not a baker? I constantly compare myself to friends and family who seem to have it all figured out. Who are already in secure jobs that pay well. Who are in relationships that work. Beyond those doubts and feelings, I do know three things for certain: I am allowed to take a break. I am allowed to not know what I’m doing. I am not defined by my job.
Nothing in life is prescribed. There is no one way it’s supposed to go. If you’re feeling trapped, suffocated, unfulfilled, you are allowed to change anything at any time. Upon Googling “I left my job without a plan” I found post after post about people doing or wanting to do the same thing as me. Are we a world of lazy people, not wanting to put in the work? No, I don’t think so. I left my job with the hope of a different life, a different routine. Because mine was making me crazy.
And if you leave the security of your job and all its perks in the hope of a happier and more sane life, then please know: That is a good enough plan for now. The rest will come.
I’m into week two of navigating this new life. And I find myself trying to rush the process, putting so much pressure on myself to figure everything out instantly. But writing this post has helped me to realize I need to slow down, enjoy the process. Yes I’m experiencing new things, but this isn’t a completely new life. I am who I’ve always been. And yes, it is scary. But I’m trying to do more things that scare me.
Photo Credit: George, White, Monteiro, Fauvet; Unsplash