Have you ever dreamed of ditching your life and beginning again? Six years ago, I did just that, walking away from a reasonably successful law career in New York. Why? For me, it was the only possible choice.
My life in New York left me burnt out and miserable. Every morning, when I woke up, my first thought was “I hate my life.” I knew if I didn’t make some real changes, I was looking at a lifetime of unhappy. I couldn’t let that be an option.
I moved south, to Charlotte, NC where I had two acquaintances. That was ok, it was comforting to know there were people I could call for the name of a restaurant or a doctor. My alone-less forced me to be proactive to find my people. I had to step outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve found people I enjoy spending time with on a regular basis.
In this life, I’ve yet to land a full time job. As an older woman who spent the bulk of her professional life litigating and operating a law practice, I’m far less marketable then I’d imagined. My search has been limited by my refusal to apply for a job that involves the actual practice of law (unless it’s a corporate gig). You see, Law Schools fail to tell you that the practice of law, especially litigation, is insanely stressful. You are being paid to zealously advocate and it often seeps into your personal life. No one tells you about the angst of owning your own business, how the burden of everything lands squarely on your shoulders. When I left my New York life behind, I had my first solid night’s sleep in almost two decades.
I’ve found contract jobs in the secret ghetto of the legal profession, document review. It’s been a hand to mouth experience. The lack of stability is a real worry, but it still doesn’t rise to the level of the concerns I had in New York. It’s actually helped me come to terms with some of my control freak personality issues. The fact that the work no longer comes home with me allows me both breathing room and a smile.
My focus in this life has changed. Instead of relying on my intellectual side, I expend my energy on creativity. Spirit over wallet. It hasn’t been easy. There have been real challenges, but I do my best to make it work each day. Sometimes I truly miss the open wallet of my former existence, but then I remember the angst that traveled along with it. As soon as that hits, I’m okay without the baubles.
There are some fabulous writers here in the South, people who are as passionate about words as I am. I’ve been able to attend workshops and studios, as well as participate in some interesting critique groups. It’s been a great way to grow as a writer. As I work on my current novel addressing the things that keep me up at night, I see growth. I dream of pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing; someday, I’ll make that happen.
My new life has brought some interesting discoveries about life and living. I’ll be exploring them with you on a monthly basis. I can assure you, six years later, I no longer wake up with misery. I may not love every minute of my new life, but I sure do prefer these challenges.
Beginning again has been the best decision of my adult life.
LJ Walter is a writer, artist and photographer. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, creating novels, poetry and artwork. Her artwork can be found at www.acidartbylj.com, on Instagram at AcidArtByLJ and on Facebook. She’s also a certified mediator and licensed attorney who enjoys solving problems in a non-adversarial manner.