Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. If you have been following grace + hudson or my personal journey for a while you might already know that I am a pretty positive and optimistic person, usually able to see the good even in supposedly bad situations. I would say that I strive to live a peaceful and joyful life and, on most days, I truly feel that way. I wasn't always this way though and in this week's journal entry I want to share a little about that. It's important that you know that I wasn't always in a good place - in fact, things got pretty dark for a while. Maybe that's where you find yourself now and, if that's the case, maybe it'll give you some hope to know that I was there once too and reached the other side where a much better career (and life) was waiting for me.
I was an attorney for 11 years and I hated every second of it. Every. Second. I knew very early on - within a year or so - that I had made a really poor career decision. I mean, really poor. We're not just talking the typical, "I don't like my job." A legal career is obviously ridiculously demanding and very grueling. Long days and nights at work (and often weekends too), urgent emails all hours of the day, very demanding bosses, constant arguments. It's not a very "happy" career. By nature, I'm pretty optimistic, reserved, and gentle. But at work I was asked to be critical, argumentative, and aggressive. If someone had said to me before I went to law school, "Your entire life is going to feel like one huge argument," I definitely wouldn't have enrolled. But I didn't look at it that way. I was smart and capable of getting into a good graduate program and I just thought it's what I was "supposed to do." We're all pretty much taught to get the best, most stable, well-paying job we can, right? That's certainly the message I heard throughout high school and college and I bet you, too. No one ever sat me down and talked to me honestly about career choices. We pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to attend college and no one ever sits down with you to take an inventory of your natural skills, talents, and areas of interest to help you pick a career that might be fulfilling. Sounds crazy when you put it that way, doesn't it?
Anyways, I ended up in the legal profession and it was really out of alignment with who I am as a person. When that's the case, it's really hard to find any happiness at work. I felt so disconnected in so many ways, and I felt I was being asked to do things (like argue in court) that just really didn't fit my personality type in the least bit. I almost had to put on a fake facade to even make it through the days where I had to "turn it on" and be argumentative in court. Because of this internal struggle, I wasn't the gentle, optimistic Stacy you know today. Not at all. I had a pretty miserable outlook on life, a touch of depression, and little hope for a better future. Was my life just going to be about working long hours in a job I didn't like with hardly any personal life? Year after year went by and I could really sense this disconnection, this mis-alignment if you will, in my body. I was always sick. Nothing serious thank goodness, but I always had a stomach ache. I always had a cold. I often got 24 hour viruses. I even got mono in my 30's and I still to this day have no idea where I got it from. Looking back, I know that my immune system was weak because of the stress. This wasn't just the natural stress of being in a demanding profession - this was also the stress of being in a career that felt really contrary to who I am. And that stuff builds up. I look back at pictures of myself from ten years ago when I was a young attorney and I look older back then than I do today. It's a little scary. I hate to think about what my body would feel like five, ten, twenty years from now if I had stayed in the legal profession. Stress is real and it has a real impact in terms of your immune system, cancer, and countless other health issues. Your body simply can't operate in that state for your entire life without real impact.
So fast forward to today, where I've found a career path I love. I'm pleased to report that not only am I really happy at work, but I am SO much healthier. I don't get constant stomach aches, I don't find myself sick with colds or minor ailments all the time, and I feel healthier at age 42 than I did at 32. So what's my point in sharing all of this? If you can identify with this story - and again, we're not just talking "I hate my job," we're talking a true misalignment - then I want to be honest with you that it doesn't get better. It doesn't. I practiced law for 11 years even though I knew it was wrong for me in year one. I tried different jobs in different cities and nothing worked. I knew switching law firms wasn't the solution. I knew I had to leave entirely. But hey, I can sit here today and confidently say that I tried a few different jobs in the legal profession before I gave up on it. It makes me feel more confident in my decision to leave. If you know you're in the wrong career, trust that. Sure, try a few different things to confirm your decision, but don't be surprised when they don't work out.
And the other message I would leave you with today is this: it gets better. You deserve better and better is out there. You just have to have the courage to make a change. Think of it like a poor romantic relationship. We've all experienced them in life at one point or another, right? Whether it was in high school or later in life, chances are you've heard the phrase, "You deserve better." And the same is true here. If you find yourself in a real misalignment, if you find yourself in a career that you know without a shadow of a doubt is never going to bring you fulfillment, you deserve better. I don't care how much the job pays you, it is not worth it. I can say this because I was earning well into the six figures and I can tell you without a doubt that the money was not worth it. It's not worth poor health. It's not worth the mental struggle of constantly having to be someone or something you're not, like me trying to be aggressive and argumentative when a court battle required it. It is not worth it. And trust me, you CAN find a new path. Maybe you'll have to "pay your dues" for a few years like me, and sacrifice a bit like I did during those first initial years of grace + hudson, but then you get established in your new career, start to earn more money, and you find yourself in the beautiful position of having career fulfillment AND stable finances. It IS possible. I am a living example of it.
I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experiences. My wish is for everyone to know the feeling of doing work that brings them joy. It truly is an unbelievable gift to not dread Mondays and hope for Friday's fast arrival. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.
P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I'm in the process of creating a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate all of my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past couple years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!