The other day, I received this email from an old friend who had recently been laid off from her job:

“I was really shocked by the decision and completely unprepared, both financially and mentally. But I think I am coping well, and in the end I think it’s a way to make me finally pursue what I want – I just enrolled for culinary school yesterday and I have an agent and I’m going to pursue food hosting full-force. But it’s still super scary and I vacillate between depression and normalcy/slight elation throughout the day. It’s pretty rough – one minute I’m crying, the next minute I’m super productive and applying for jobs.”

After reading this, I felt sympathetic, sure, but you wanna know what I really felt? Jealous. It’s crazy, it’s stupid, but throughout this economic downturn, as friends are being spit from their positions left and right, the one word that comes to mind is … lucky. Because I know they’re smart cookies and will ultimately be okay. Better than okay. Their circumstances are propelling them to act, to reinvent themselves, to create from scratch the lives they’ve always dreamed of.

Perhaps I’m the only one in this nation who is glamorizing the recession, but how thrilling would it be for someone to rip the ground from under you and your only two options would be to plunge tragically or soar higher than you ever could imagine? To do or die.

I’m in awe of what my laid-off friends have already done for themselves. One started her own graphic design business, something she’s been wanting to do for years. Several others are applying to grad school. I understand that not everyone has the means to take such leaps, but I do believe that this is a unique time of opportunity. I hunger to do what I want to do, too.

But of course, if you do have a job and even utter the “Q” word, especially now, no one will dare say, “Congrats on taking a risk!” Instead, you’ll be greeted with oh-so subtle remarks such as: “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EFFIN’ MIND!?!”

Today, as I finally have some time to breathe a little, I sat on the bike machine, flipping through Vogue. I happened to come across a profile of Stephanie Meyer, you know, Twilight lady, and while reading it, I started nodding my head yes. It was a good story, not mind-blowing or anything, but good, satisfying. And I was just like, hmm. You know, with a lot of practice and reading and mentoring and maybe some more training, I could maybe one day do this. As in write for big publications like Vogue. It sounds crazy, but is it really that crazy?

I have big dreams every now and then, but they always seem to get squashed by the chaos of reality.

I don’t know why I’m writing this post. I am fortunate to have a job right now. I believe this deep down somewhere, I really do.

But in time, I want to see how high I can soar. And to do that, I could really use a push.

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12 Responses to Soar

  1. I sort of feel the same way – like I’ll never be able to change because what I have is comfortable and ‘okay’ and I wouldn’t be sure to ever get that and took some crazy chance in life..

    But then again I really think that if I am ever to be there I’d go down the self-destructive, pessimistic road to and pick the ‘plunge tragically’ option..

  2. As I read this post I was reminded of part of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems:

    We never know how high we are
    Till we are called to rise;
    And then, if we are true to plan,
    Our statures touch the skies—

    Like you, I’ve watched several friends who have turned their job losses into opportunities to reinvent themselves and pursue their dreams.

    Being able to pursue what you love without sacrificing stability and comfort is always a challenge, but I think it’s wonderful that you have aspirations. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a way to make it work.

  3. I suffer from severe “grass is always greener” syndrome. Whenever I see someone doing something exciting, even if it isn’t for me, I get jealous, thinking their life must be better than mine. I am constantly having to remind myself I’ve made good decisions for myself. It’s hard, though. I know how you feel.

  4. I really think this blog is positioning yourself to write for Vogue one day. The internet is leveling to playing field, and this blog already has giving you a stable group of readers. I say pitch them now–what do you have to lose?

  5. I, personally, understand your friend’s fears. Being “forced” to live your dreams is intimidating but at the end of the day, being laid-off or unemployed can be a blessing in disguise. Without that push, one may never try to live their dreams and might regret not doing until it is too late.

  6. I really think it’s great to wanna push ourselves to do what our passions are..sure you have to be grateful in what you have now but why not trying for other things as well? You can SO write for vogue :)

  7. Great post Michelle! Carpe diem!

  8. I have been feeling the same way you have. Watching people get laid off and I thought, why can’t I do what I really want? Yes, I have a job but for how long? Is it what I really want to do for the rest of my life? Then I decided I needed to make some changes. I just finished my application for graduate school the other day. It could potentially mean leaving my comfortable job but I owe it to myself, I want to soar. Sometimes you have to jump and build your wings on the way down. (which is a quote from someone but I dont know who.)

  9. michelle! it’s hard. it really is. and exciting and sad and frustrating and fun to go out on your own. if it’s something you really want to do, I say do it! There is no better time then now. But maybe you could do the preliminary work now, while you are still employed. pitch vogue your ideas. You are an amazing writer and YOU ARE THE MOST FAMOUS MICHELLE WOO IN THE WORLD! Vogue would be lucky to have you writing for them.

  10. “I have big dreams every now and then, but they always seem to get squashed by the chaos of reality.”

    That’s such a powerfully accurate and poignant sentence and I couldn’t agree more. I feel that for most people, the external push doesn’t come, and you need to push yourself to be who you want to be.

  11. Your post inspired me today. Thanks. I love you Mish! And you CAN write for Vogue. I believe in you.

  12. Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I heart you guys so much!

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