How I Changed My Life by Quitting My Job

comments (11) October 12th, 2008     

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pjinomaha Pamela Jaye, contributor
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My now-husband hides behind me in a photo taken during our engagement photo session.
The front of a Shoebox Greetings card I bought more than 10 years ago during my freshman year of high school. It says, Thinking of you.
The message inside this greeting card is so
completely random, but thats one of the reasons why I love it so much.
Every time I read it, I laugh. It says, And fish, playing little tiny band instruments. But mostly you.
My now-husband hides behind me in a photo taken during our engagement photo session.

My now-husband hides behind me in a photo taken during our engagement photo session.

Photo: Heather Waraksa

There was a lot of crying on my part, but a month before my wedding, I was finally able to convince my fiancé that I wanted out. Not out of our impending marriage. I wanted out of the rat race. I wanted out of a career choice that no longer interested me. I wanted out of the cubicle, out of working for "the man," and out of not feeling fulfilled with my job.

My frustration was hard for my fiancé to understand. J.B. got great satisfaction out of his job, even though he also worked for "the man." In his case, though, "the man" was the President of the United States, his Commander-in-Chief. Maybe it's because, as part of the Air Force, J.B. had a different work ethic and didn't believe in quitting. Perhaps he was able to detach himself emotionally from his work because he was a guy. When I explained to him how unhappy I was working in public relations, he immediately tried to think of ways to fix the situation. But nothing he could say would make me love writing captivating press releases for boring companies.

He relented when he could see how truly miserable I was, and a week before my May 25 wedding, I packed up my cubicle and said goodbye to my coworkers. To civilians, it may seem like terrible timing to quit a job just before getting married, but this was one instance where the military was working for us. Once we were husband and wife, I would be eligible to receive J.B.'s health insurance-free of charge. His pay would increase because he would have a dependent.

Plus, two weeks after our wedding, J.B. was going to be deployed for the first time. Without him around for 60 days or so, there would be fewer groceries to buy, smaller bar tabs to pay, and less shopping excursions to take. We'd be a one-income family, but there'd only be one of us at home.

We decided that I could use the time apart over the summer to "find myself," decide what I really wanted to do with my life, and what would fulfill me. But I already had an idea. It was an idea that had been waiting patiently in the back of my mind until the timing was right. I've always wanted to open a stationery store, and with a whole summer to plan my venture, now seemed like the right time.

"Why stationery?" everyone asked. I've always loved paper, from the personalized notepads my grandparents used to make me at their printing shop to the colorful Lisa Frank paper I'd trade with my bunkmates at camp to the funny greeting cards I'd buy but never send because I enjoyed them too much. I took pride in finding birthday and special-occasion cards that not only reflected my sensibilities but also the personalities of the recipients. And in the last couple of years, as I learned about letterpress and Gocco, I began to see stationery as small works of art that deserved to be framed as much as mailed. Simply put, stationery made me happy.

Plus, there were no stores in Omaha that catered to my needs. I bought all of my stationery online. I could just see myself sitting in a small, well-designed shop surrounded by beautiful paper catering to people just like me. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, but I was ready to devote all of my time and energy to a project that finally had meaning to me. I was determined to open a stationery store and thankfully had the support of my soon-to-be husband and my family.

This post is the first in a series about my adventures in starting a business with absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Come along with me as I learn exactly what's involved in opening a store and just how life-changing my decision to quit my public relations job was. If you have any advice or words of encouragement for me, please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you!

posted in: business, retail, launch

Comments (11)

sendperfectcards writes: Pamela,
How is it going for you? I am interested in using your story in a book and also as part of a blog. Please let me know your progress and if this is possible.
Posted: 2:00 pm on April 20th
schwaigen writes: Hey, well done Pamela for following your dream. I hope your stationery store is a success; I am sure it will be. I am also interested in stationery of all kinds as I love making invitations and cards for all occasions. I have set up my own website with some of my creations; it is a slow process as I have limited time. Are you also thinking of a website eventually? Perhaps we can exchange links some day.
Posted: 3:31 am on November 3rd
paperNstitch writes: I can't believe I am reading a story that is so similar to my own. Only mine does not a happy ending just yet, but I am hoping it will soon. i will be getting married in a couple of months and have been discussing with my fiance quitting my job to follow my dream for some time now. We already have started "the business" but I am not able to support myself just yet with the income. I will cross my fingers. Anyway, Thanks so much for sharing your story PJ and good luck with your new endeavor.
Posted: 9:01 pm on October 20th
LonesomeRoadStudio writes: You are my idol!
Best wishes with your new venture, I can't wait to hear more about your new start.
Posted: 1:08 pm on October 20th
ElainePDX writes: Sigh~~does your hubby have any NICE single friends who are in their late 50's/early 60's?
Posted: 4:06 pm on October 15th
pinsandneedles writes: I can't wait to hear more about your venture!!
Posted: 1:00 am on October 15th
Akitkat118 writes: PJ - first I must say that I really do love your writing and all your articles everywhere. Second, good luck with your venture.. it sounds like a really awesome idea...I love those stores too. And you've always been the kind of person who will make it funky, fun and very you.And third, I really hope it works out for you, because then it will give me hope that one day, I too may be able to quit working for the man and figure out what really inspires me. All the best.
Posted: 4:18 pm on October 14th
pjinomaha writes: RubyKitty,

Thanks for your encouragement! For a long time I was ignoring my instincts -- that corporate America wasn't for me -- and forcing myself to enjoy a career that wasn't fulfilling. Although I am making next to nothing for the moment, I am so much more content with my life. I'm glad that you also found a way to feel appreciated and happier in your career.

Posted: 2:26 pm on October 14th
pjinomaha writes: Claire--

I'm humbled that my story encouraged you to create an account on CraftStylish. There are so many beautiful and inspiring things to discover here!

Thank you so much for your kind wishes. I actually have many friends, who, after working for "the man" for a number of years, decided to go back to school to become teachers. They are all blissfully happy. I hope that you find what makes you happy.

Posted: 2:24 pm on October 14th
Claire_P writes: Pamela, your story made me create an account on Craftstylish (usually just a regular passing visitor), I just wanted to say how jealous I am of you and your adventure. I have just finished uni so have an arts degree under my belt and now have no idea what to do with myself! I'm doing some free lance design work and then working 45 hour weeks in a restaurant. Not what I had hoped for. Like you I know that working for the man is not going to please me at all, so I am hoping to go into secondary school teaching next year, which means going back into study which I certainly dont mind. I hope that like you I have the courage to find and pursue the career that I feel will truly leave me with a smile on my face. I wish you all the luck in the world!

Aim for the heavens, even if you miss you will land among the stars!
Posted: 10:18 am on October 14th
RubyKitty writes: Good luck Pamela. It takes a lot of nerve to walk away from a job and a steady wage, but sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. I left a job a few years ago - one where I was being bullied by a supervisor and felt constantly demoralised. I got a part time college place learning ceramics and walked into a temp agency and immediately got a job for evenings and weekends to pay the bills. I ended up being pretty hopeless at ceramics, but I now work full time at the same company I temped. The set up is so much more relaxed, I feel appreciated and I'm much happier. I'm also starting a small craft business in my spare time. At the risk of sounding hippyish sometimes you just have to have faith that the creative, nurturing world around you will let you find your place in it.
Leaving a job and starting your shop is daunting, but I'm sure it'll also be great fun. Fingers crossed for you!

Posted: 2:46 pm on October 12th
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