Going Full Time: Part 1

“I get up at 4:30 am to run to a job that I hate. ‘Hate is a strong word’ I think. ‘I know.’ I reply.

She comes into my chat and right away she’s angry. The little icon option turns red with a mad face to alert us: This customer is mad. And it’s my job to fix it. She’s mad because the code for 40% off isn’t working. I look. The item is already 20% off so the code will take 20% more off to bring it to 40% off. She believes this is wrong. It should be 60% off. I explain that discounts won’t stack, it takes the higher of the two promotions. She starts tearing into me.

This is where I live for most of my day.”

This was taken from my super secret diary from an entry written just over a year ago. I felt completely stuck. With the weight of the world on my shoulders, leaving to pursue my dream felt impossible. The problem was, it had felt impossible for nine years. Was it ever going to feel possible?

The answer was no. I was going to have to decide to do the impossible. The good news was, I had already done the impossible.

Eight years prior, I had ended a toxic relationship. My son’s father and I had reached our end and it felt impossible to be a parent on my own. With the end of that relationship, I also had to let go of the idea of a sibling for Kayden. I had to accept that Kayden would be raised in a single parent household. I had to accept that 50% of the household income would disappear. I had to accept that I would somehow have to make up that 50%.

And I did. For eight years I did what I believed to be impossible. It was completely worth it… because in exchange, I had a peaceful household. All the fighting and tension was gone, the walking on eggshells left, and in its place was peace, love, and a tighter budget. It was a trade off.

And eight years later, it was also a trade off.

I sat at lunch one day thinking about all the things I was ALREADY trading in for my reliable paycheck. I was trading in sleep. Waking up at 4:30 am every day. I was trading in 8 hours each day. I was trading in the ability to make Kayden breakfast and get him off to school in the morning. I was trading in my mental health. I had cashed in all my patience for this job and couldn’t take being yelled at anymore. I was trading in my passion… and at the end of my shift, I had so little left to give to my family, let alone to photography. I was trading in time… that thing that life is made of, and you don’t get any more of it no matter how rich or successful you are.

I clocked back in from lunch feeling like a fool. My time with my family, the success of my business, sleep, and mental health, all for a paycheck.

My mind flashed back to eight years earlier: My peace, my sanity, my happiness, my self esteem, Kayden’s peace, and Kayden’s well being, all in exchange for the outward appearance that we were a happy family because there were two parents in the home.

“This is it again. And you can do it because you’ve done it before.”

One of the most powerful keynotes I’ve ever heard was at United three years ago. Mary Marantz talked about moving to the “next place.” When you can’t stay, what are you going to take and what are you going to leave? And what do you have to leave behind to get to the next place? Are some things too heavy to carry?

I had to leave a reliable paycheck. I had to leave good health insurance. I had to leave amazing friends at work. I had to leave the idea of another child… one that might have looked just like Kayden. I had to leave pride and security and predictability. What do you have to leave behind? What are you currently trading in? What are you getting in exchange? Is it worth it?

The scary part is, you don’t know what that next place holds. The first time, it held peace and love and a home with no eggshell walking. What does it hold this time?

A month ago yesterday, I left that full time job to be a full time photographer, and while I mapped out the first four months pretty perfectly, I have no clue what lies beyond that. I would however like to share with you tomorrow on Day 71 what I’ve learned this last month. I’m grateful you’re here, friends.

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris