Relationships

When Did You Forge Your Own Path?

When Have You Forged Your Own Path

The world is abuzz…

When Did You Forge Your Own Path

…with the news that Prince Harry and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex have decided to step back from the royal family to “carve out a progressive new role.” While no one is certain what this role will entail, it made us think.

The “Megxit,” as the press has dubbed it, has been met with both celebration and condemnation, much like everything the royal couple does. But this move, unlike dissecting their fashion choices or decoding body language, feels relatable on an emotional level. We all face times when life beckons us to break from convention — even (and perhaps especially) when you are royalty.

Joanna left law school after only one year (with $54K in student loans) to get an entry-level job for a small editorial firm. “People thought it was misguided, but I felt like I had to do it,” she says.

Kim moved to New York City from the Midwest with no job lined up. “I was scared to leave the only place I’d ever known, but I knew it would work out, even if it took a while.”

As for me, I’ve realized that every two years, I make a leap that people think is nuts, but it always feels right. When I left my corporate job at Penguin to “work for the internet” people thought I was bonkers. Then I decided to write full-time and everyone was like, “what the eff are you doing.” But as a friend said to me recently, “You need to be comfortable not only with people not supporting your decisions, but also not understanding them. No one needs to understand your choices, because they don’t have to live your life.”

While none of our decisions involved disappointing Her Majesty the Queen, it can still be a challenge to do what feels right in your heart. We may not understand much about what it’s like to be Harry and Meghan, but when it comes to making tricky life choices, we can definitely relate.

When did you forge your own path? We’d love to hear.

P.S. A trick for making decisions and how has your life surprised you?

  1. Sara Montoya says...

    I love reading this comments. Just… how? How do you know what your path is? I need a career change, and I feel ready to be bold in leaving my field (law) to go where my heart leads, but my heart… wants to go so many directions and I do not have the foggiest idea how to even start figuring it out. Help!

    • Ndi says...

      Two years ago, I was forced to make a career change because well I was about to be laid off and an opportunity with less pay in an entirely different field came up. My situation is different from yours but what help me embrace and start to bloom in my new career after 8 months of self pity was that I started to do research. I would say, write down your interests as they come to mind and do research, it is eye opening the things you find out of other people who have been able to create a job out of their passion or find a career that combines their passions. Or what is even out there or would be out there in the near future. Doing the research I believe and speaking to people working in all the different fields you are interested in will give you the courage and the knowledge to take your first step when the time is right.

  2. Ashley says...

    My husband and I have been forging our own path since we started dating — and much of it has gone against what everyone in his family has done. ( we aren’t following one family’s path, but my family understands/has been more supportive). It’s all come to a head now, the insecurities of his parents not knowing why we do things or if how we want to do things will work out. I am in awe of my husband as he stands up for our decisions and how we make them, because I am often besieged by crippling doubt. However when push comes to shove, we are stronger individuals and a strong couple because we have decided to make our own way – instead of following the same footprints.

  3. Anita says...

    Hi Joanna,
    This discussion is so rich. I wonder if there have ever been/or if there could be posts on Cup of Jo about how to make (good) decisions. Or how to know if you are following your gut or not/how to trust yourself?

  4. TeaLeaves says...

    Thank you to all the ladies for sharing their stories — makes me feel less alone for sure. After several years in the nonprofit world, I finally left a job that was meaningful in so many ways but kept me overworked and underpaid. I tried to focus on the good aspects of the job for so long but I finally found the courage to leave and return back to NY even though I didn’t have a job lined up. I took some time off to do the things I’ve always said I wanted to do: travel and spend quality time with family (including mending relationship with my brother). As much as I love doing community work, I’m now grappling with the reality that I need to take care of myself financially and would like my next professional setting to be one that values me and what I bring to the table. I’m back in the NY job market and it’s been kind of a struggle to “market” myself in the right way. Nothing has panned out so far but I’m remaining optimistic and will keep going at it. If there are any ladies there with advice for me then please don’t hesitate to reach out: twg1414@gmail.com. Thanks!

  5. Polyana says...

    At 22, I graduated from college, and was undocumented (this was pre-Daca). With no hopes or chances of legalization, and not wanting to work under the table – after all, what had I gone to college for? – I returned to my home country!

    My family had immigrated to the US when I was 2, so I did not know my home country (Brazil), except the language, some of the culture from growing up in a community with many immigrants from Brazil, and even then, I was considered a foreigner to most, when I arrived.

    Everyone thought (and still thinks over 12 years later), that I was nuts to leave the US to come to “home,” to an unstable, developing country, after never actually having lived here. But being undocumented at that point in my life may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I love my life in Brazil!

    • SB says...

      This is beautiful – glad you have a wonderful life, Polyana!

  6. Adele says...

    I love the readers’ inspiring comments for this post. But, are Harry and Meghan really the best examples for forging your own path? Harry is the epitome of someone who has been handed, not earned, great wealth and the privilege. Are they really forging their own path if they intend to cash in on their titles and, despite being worth tens of millions dollars, wish to continue to receive tax payer funding to support their lifestyle?

    • R says...

      This.

    • Ella says...

      SO much this.

    • Emily says...

      Tough crowd given what he’s been through. I’m sure he’d trade his wealth and privilege for his mum’s life back.

    • SB says...

      I hear you. Even people with enourmous privilege and taxpayer support (*cough Jeff Bezos*) make their way through the world with a sense of self and a soul, though. Just like us, they want to forge lives worth living. #teamboth

  7. Sarah says...

    I feel this post so much!

    When I turned 30, I was getting so much pressure to marry someone, anyone. Of course I wanted to find the love of my life and start a family, but I knew I just wasn’t there yet. I’d had several failed relationships at that point and I knew something had to change.

    So instead of falling into the ladylike role expected of me at the time, I invested in myself for a while. I started taking improv classes and hanging out at comedy clubs. I started singing Karaoke at dive bars. And I took up scuba and travelled alone bunch. I got in some debt. I had some one night stands. I tried a new role at work and totally bombed. Extended family gawked. My friends tried to support me but also looked at me like creature they just couldn’t understand.

    I wasn’t totally happy every moment. Sometimes I was lonely or disappointed. But I was growing and over the next few years I found myself. When I finally met my husband, I was strong and ready to settle down. I knew myself and my worth. It was all very “Eat Pray Love” and I’d recommend it to anyone.

    • Amanda says...

      Love this, Sarah! The pressure to marry or have a “special someone” peaks around this time for a lot of women and the overt and unspoken hot takes are intense. I love hearing stories about women basically telling the world to stuff it and then falling in love with their lives. Far more interesting!

    • Sarah says...

      Thanks Amanda! Agree. There’s just so much pressure for women to be “perfect”. And it doesn’t really help us reach our potential.

  8. G says...

    I wanted to become a physician to live overseas working in global health, but when I got to residency, no one at my hospital knew how to guide me. At best I was referred to connect with an almost-retired specialist who went on short mission trips; at worst an attending rudely asked me why on earth I’d want to work in the field. Luckily with the help of a great mentor I found a fellowship that allows me to work with residents in a resource limited setting abroad.

    I feel so lucky to have found a position like this, thankful to those who didn’t give me the side-eye when I told them my goals, and kind of proud that I made it work after all the dead ends I hit along the way. If you really want to do something, you don’t need approval from the peanut gallery- just support and encouragement from the people who truly care about you and are invested in your future.

  9. Dana says...

    Hello COP community!

    As I read all the posts, I noticed that the majority of comments are through our own perspective and life experiences (just like everything in life). I feel that the move by Harry & Meghan is grounded in the idea of self-care. Self-care is HARD and involves places boundaries in ways that might make others uncomfortable (and sometimes angry). I have a lot of respect for what they are doing and it is not my place to judge. I am going through a period that is focused on self-care and it is not easy. I’ve lost a lot in the process but it had to be done. I was a high school teacher and am leaving the profession. It is terrifying. This will be my 2nd career change. Except, this time it is harder because I thought that I would be a teacher for good after my 1st career change. My career change is in a greater context. At age 46, I am finally dealing with all the broken parts of myself that led to constant self-betrayal. I am striving to live more consciously and build a more sustainable life. I am learning to accept the parts of me that need other things instead of pretending and just pushing through life. I don’t want to just survive anymore. I want to build a life in which I can thrive. There are a lot of unknowns, which is scary. Yet, I am no longer chipping off pieces of myself for things that do not serve my heart, soul, and spirit. To me, this is forging a new path in a big way.

    • Maggie says...

      Wow. *Applause*

    • Emma Vazquez Rivera says...

      Hi Dana!
      I’m 45 and a high school teacher in Spain. After some difficult life changes I’m also thinking about quitting my job and doing something different. This would be my second big career move but I feel is something I need. I don’t know what I’m going to do but I have started thinking about it.
      Can I ask what are you going to do?
      Sending you good thoughts!

    • Andrea says...

      I’m proud of you. Keep going! ❤️

    • Sloan says...

      Wishing you lots of luck. You are brave to be charging down this path and I have faith that it will be so very worth it.

    • Beth says...

      Your comment made me feel so much less alone. „Finally dealing with the broken parts of myself that led to constant self-betrayal“ sums it up nicely. I‘m finally in therapy after decades of not being „that“ depressed or „that“ bitter or angry at my sometimes weirdly unsuitable life choices and passing by of great opportunities. Telling myself it‘s never too late to try to get things right and it does not matter who „gets“ it. Great post. Great topic.

  10. Amanda says...

    I have been coming back to this comment section the last few days and am finding so much comfort in this. I am at a crossroads right now- I am thinking of quitting my PhD, although I only have ons year left, and it’s going well. I am just so burnt out by it. I also need to change jobs. And we are thinking about up-rooting our family (including to children, 4 and 10 y old) to relocate to a small mountain town. All of this seems crazy in my head but seeing all of the brave decisions people make (including the one by Harry and Megan) makes me feel like maybe I am not crazy for trusting myself and my feelings.

    • Rachael says...

      You’re so close—don’t quit the PhD program! In my experience, all of us feel burned out by the end. ;-) Finish the PhD and then move to the mountains.

    • Amanda says...

      Whether you finish or not, know that there are things you can do with PhD-level training that don’t require you to be burnt out or absent all the time. The last year is truly the hardest. Wishing you the best of luck!

    • Anna says...

      Sending you strength, Amanda. I considered quitting my PHD (burnout, too) but powered through and am now happily working in a non—academic field. The mountains sound amazing, especially with children.

    • L says...

      I just finished a PhD but considered quitting mid-way through. I have no advice on whether to quit or not. (I wish I had quit halfway through, but now I am glad to have the degree because it definitely gives you credibility in the career world afterward. But it still wasn’t worth the horrible advisor, sexism, and etc.) But I am just chiming in to say that my husband, son, and I also uprooted after finishing our degrees, and we are SO MUCH happier being out of academia, doing jobs that aren’t constant misery and existential dread – and moving to a new place for a fresh start really had a lot to do with that. Good luck! Life does get so much better than grad school.

    • Amanda says...

      Thank you for your encouragement! To make things more complicated, my husband and son are struggling with their mental health. I just don’t have the energy to face the dreaded last year (I am also not going for an academic career so that is not motivating me). I think I am going to ask for a sabbatical year with the hope of coming back stronger in 2021.

    • Laura says...

      I’ve struggled with this myself. I got my Ph.D. in 2012 and feel like I have some sort of PTSD from the process. There is ample research on the mental health burden that doctoral students go through in their studies. Often, we are isolated socially and lack adequate guidance and support from our programs. I wanted to quit many times, too, as I also didn’t want to go into an academic field and wondered if it was worth it. I can tell you that I’m now considering a career change (longer response needed in a separate comment but it involves burn-out in public education) and am SO happy that I have my Ph.D. I’ve been hustling for a year to pitch my skills to different people in several different fields, and I am certain that the “Dr” in front of my name has opened doors that might otherwise have been closed. It’s been about a year since I started branching out and putting out feelers to see if I could make the leap into a different field, but things are starting to gel for me. So if you can, hang in there and finish your program! Remember- you just have to graduate. You don’t have to win any awards. It’s a grueling process to get to the finish line, but I think you’ve come so far and should try to finish. For myself- I ended up switching advisors at the end because my first, and seasoned, advisor kept putting me off. I wanted to finish so I made the politically-risky decision to jump ship and ask a younger professor to advise me and she got me out of there in a year! There’s always a way to problem-solve and hustle your way to the end!

  11. Jamie says...

    I have to praise Cup of Jo (and author Caroline) on the framing of this story. I am certainly one who sees Meghan and Harry’s ‘pivot’ as Forging Their Own Path, and my perspective on this topic has a lot to do with my personal experiences.

    I broke free from a very religious upbringing, from an unhealthy and dysfunctional family with mental health issues and substance abuse issues (you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves), and made a career change after my bachelors degree. Granted, I am also a recipient of white privilege (thank you for your comment, Emily), have a very supportive partner, and am still close with a few family members who also escaped. I still go to therapy from time to time and struggle with issues from my childhood that come out in my adult life, but my current self is really thankful to my younger self for taking steps to make a change.

    I read this quote on the Cup of Jo favorite quotes post/comment section and I think it fits well here— “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

    Listen to your heart and follow through with your mind. Forge on, dear friends!

    • Vava says...

      Absolutely!!! I like your attitude.

  12. Stacey says...

    Studied abroad in Brazil for the winter quarter of school, and decided to stay through the spring to graduate there. Then I stayed to learn Portuguese / try to find a job. So glad I did it and proved to myself I could follow my heart in a foreign country and forge my own path. After almost a decade of corporate jobs in NYC after Brazil, it’s about time to consider another big shift when the time is right.

  13. Tammy Sutherland says...

    After growing up in a military family and moving around a lot, we spent seven years in one place, which happened to coincide with me finding a passion for performing and a specialty arts high school that was the most incredible, accepting, creative place imaginable. So when we moved across the country again, I was lost after only just finding myself! So I begged my parents to let me go back. It took six months, but they eventually signed over guardianship to their best friends, who were still in our old city, and I left home to go home. Little did I know that I would never live in the same home or province as my parents again – well, it’s almost 30 years later and I haven’t so far – but I still see it as one of the most important turning points in my life. Thank goodness they let me go.

  14. Malissa says...

    I think my whole life has just been one big “forge your own path”. The upside to having a small family — and parents who really had quite low (no?) expectations for what I’d make of my life — has meant that I could do whatever I wanted with a very low chance of disappointing others. By nature, I’ve never seen big “moves” or changes as anything but opportunities waiting to burst open; what’s the worst that can EVER happen?! You move back. You quit what you started or do something else. Nothing is really a failure, in my opinion. Just a step forward. This has led me to live all over the world, most recently in Singapore and soon moving to Switzerland. Maybe this is why I’m a college counselor, working with teens on the brink of making the FIRST BIG CHOICE in their lives – it’s funny how paralyzed they are some times (no life experience, after all). I try to encourage them to embrace this same mentality and be EXCITED, not all scared all the time!

    • Anita says...

      Malissa I admire this mentality so much, as I am a chronic worrier and second guesser. I try and telly myself these things but the anxiety is always there underneath.

  15. Hannah says...

    Your friend’s comment that “no one needs to understand your choices” reminds me of a time my friend (who also happens to be a therapist) told me, “sometimes to take care of yourself you have to be misunderstood.” I’ve come back to this advice several times and it has been immensely helpful. Not every acquaintance at a party needs to fully understand the occasionally complex motivation behind my life choices, the people who matter get it and that’s enough.

    • B says...

      Needed this. Thank you.

  16. SaraY says...

    At 39 I was working for a start up that was labeled one of the ‘best companies to work for’. I hated it: the free beer, constant parties, the frat boy atmosphere, the ‘we’re gonna make so much money at IPO’ mentality. Sitting at my desk (open floor plan, of course) I started plotting my escape. Lo and behold I get pregnant and let go. (They could probably tell I didn’t want to be there.) Instead I stayed home with my son for a year and made a concerted effort to find my Why. I talked to friends, therapists, read journals, talked to childhood teachers and went to a Q&A for a community college nursing program. I took a year of pre-reqs, wrote a kick ass essay and got in to a HIGHLY competitive program. I’m now a nurse, absolutely LOVE it and think about how I needed to work my least favorite job to discover what I truly wanted to do with the second half of my life. Was it hard going back to school with a baby-> toddler-> preschooler? Yes. And worth it. It wasn’t full time, my husband and community supported me, and I believed I could do it. Then did it. Go Megxit. I fully support them doing whatever it takes to feel good about their choices.

    • Coralie says...

      I love your story so much I took a screenshot and saved your comment for future (and present) motivation self talk. I am 32 and feel at an impasse in a career I worked so hard to succeed in, and tell myself it would be foolish to quit and start again now (in a completely different field that would require going back to school for a few years). And so many people around me tell me I will regret it, and how lucky I am to have a full time job and benefits in the first place, and how are you going to pay your mortgage if you go back to school, and imagine starting at the bottom of the ladder with all these 22 years old willing to take less money and work later and and and …. it’s such a back and forth in my head, but I needed some positive in all of this and your comment inspired me. Thank you and kudos to you!

    • Sharon says...

      this comment resonates with me. My least favorite jobs have taught me the most. I’ve changed jobs more than I would have liked; but I’ve learned SO much about myself through the process. So many important parts of my life have worked out because of some mistake or wrong turn.

    • mk says...

      I am sitting here now, filling out an application to go back to school, at 34 with a 9 month old and a husband. I am so scared…and so excited. I have been thinking about doing this for the past 10 years, but have finally gotten to a place where I’m taking the next steps. My last few jobs have been good on paper, but aren’t actually what I want to be doing. I just feel like I can no longer betray myself. Thank you for sharing your story that it can be done, with kids and all! Here’s to making changes!

  17. Mette says...

    Meeting a New Zealand guy in New York while we were both working for the United Nations. Following him and working in New Zealand, Iran, New York again, New Zealand again, and London in two weeks. It was definitely not what was in the cards, and people have questioned whether I was/am giving up on my own career aspirations. But you know what? It has brought me so many experiences and it felt right in my gut. And those are the most important things in my book

  18. V says...

    Giving up my engineer salary to become a stay-at-home-mom in an era when that seems archaic, because making dinner for my family from scratch and having a slower, simpler pace of life and more family time is important to me. It Is truly the best decision I have ever made in my life!

    • Terri says...

      This is beautiful! All the best to you and your family. I was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years, and it was the best decision for our family.

    • V says...

      Thank you Terri! I struggled to make the decision because it seemed like it wasn’t what I was “supposed to do”, until I realized it was society telling me that, and not myself. Once I made the decision I’ve never looked back. <3

    • Grace says...

      I love this comment! I used to feel embarrassment about being a stay-at-home Mom. I would rush to explain to strangers that I was educated and not operating under any religious pressures because it felt like an “archaic” life choice for someone born in the late ‘80s. It has been the best gift to myself and my family to have a life with fewer variables for these years. I would do it 100 times over even with the financial hardship and the lack of personal space and time.

    • S says...

      This sounds so familiar (and hopeful)! I’m just returning to my engineering job after three months of maternity leave and realize that I don’t enjoy my job. I’m good at it, but it brings me very little joy and only a medium amount of satisfaction. I’m currently the primary breadwinner in the family, since my husband is in school full-time, but we’ve realized that we want me to be home full-time someday and are actively working towards that goal now.

    • Ella says...

      Staying home is such a luxury – you’re lucky you (like Meghan) have the choice to do so. Glad you took advantage!

  19. Sarah says...

    Similarly to Kim, I also moved to a new city with no job lined up. I quit my job because of an abusive boss, and instead of moping around Brooklyn, I decided to pack up and move to California without a job offer lined up. I had always wanted to live on the west coast, and I viewed my unemployment (and ability to leave my apartment) as a sign of freedom — I could finally leave! Many people called me “crazy” for moving without a job, especially to an expensive city (SF), but I never felt crazy — I knew it would work out eventually, and it did. I’m now fully employed, surrounded by friends, and in an affordable apartment in the Inner Richmond next to the Presidio and lots of dim sum. That’s not to say I wasn’t stressed. I was unemployed for about 4 months, and I dealt with a great deal of anger and anxiety for the emotional toll my boss’s sexual harassment and abuse took on me (“why did *I* have to leave?”). But now I look back on my choice and perseverance with an immense amount of gratitude and pride. I forget where I read this, and it may have been on this very blog, but I love this quote and it’s stuck with me pretty strongly: “you can do hard things.” One of the hardest things is to listen to your gut despite your decision being considered “crazy” by others. But — you’re not crazy, you’re brave.

  20. Rachael says...

    Reading through all these amazing comments has been really inspiring. I am at a big crossroads in my life right now. I’ve trained as a classical musician my whole life, and just finished several years of grad school for performance. After so many years studying so intensely, I just feel done. I want to do something else, but I don’t know what, and I am not sure how to find out. It is hard to transition when you’ve trained so intensively for one thing your whole life, especially when that thing is a big part of your identity. Any advice from this wonderful community would be so welcomed <3

    • Maggie says...

      Rachael – I have made tough, risky decisions a few times – switching employers, switching careers, etc. And one method has also worked for me. I find people that are doing something I find interesting – maybe their exact job is appealing or their industry or their life balance – and I take them for coffee and ask a whole lot of questions. I’ve found people are so happy to share their story and hearing their stories really helped me get a gut feeling about what the next step should be for me. It has never failed! I find that a job description on paper is not nearly as relevant as understanding what the daily ebb and flow is really like. I hope that helps!

    • Audrey says...

      My great uncle told me this once: find a place or a company that you really admire or believe in- and see if there is anything you could do there. My uncle was an engineer at Boeing and was burnt out. He loved the college he had gone to, so met with people there and eventually got a job in development and loved it. Not because he always thought he’d be doing exactly what he was doing, but because he loved where he worked. Also, each move or place of employment is just a step… You don’t have to know exactly what you want for the rest of your life. I remember reading “what color is your parachute”… I honestly don’t remember if it was helpful, but it is often recommended :) good luck!

    • I can empathize, Rachel, as another classical musician who also made it through grad school! Its hard for a lot of folks to understand how all-consuming being a classical musician is, because as you said this is a part of our identities. I can’t think of another profession (besides maybe being an Olympic gymnast) where most people start in their field before 10 years old. I have many classmates who arent doing music anymore, and who LOVE their lives. One is working in marketing for a large company, one is working for the DNC, one has started her own small business – and each tell me how much they still enjoy making music. Just now its on their own terms. Its free of the judgment that can come along with music school, and free of the pressure to make it lucrative, they are just enjoying being part of community orchestras, playing with friends, etc. Good things are still ahead, keep keepin on <3

  21. Tiana says...

    I’d always thought I’d work in academia and that’s what I was getting ready to do by pursuing education that basically didn’t train me for anything but for it! And by the end of my Master’s I decided I wanted out. Not sure if my parents were confused or enraged, as they weren’t really happy with my decisions in the first place, haha! Honestly, going the new direction at 27, when everyone else was like 21 or 22, was frustrating and confusing, but somewhere along the way I learned (quite surprisingly) that I’m not chasing a career anyway nor letting my job define me. Currently working in marketing, writing in my free time, and feeling good about having a job whose funds let me enjoy my time outside of work. Maybe that would have happened had I stayed in academia as a researcher, but back then I decided I really couldn’t stand the idea of spending my life reading and producing articles for the sake of earning points, without making any significant breakthroughs in the field. (Sorry if anyone reading this works in academia and feels like I’m wrong – that’s totally okay, this was just my impression and back then it didn’t work for me, but I know a great deal of people working in research and loving it.)

  22. Esther says...

    I’ve been forging a lot this past year. In 2019, my fiancé and I separated to the chagrin of my parents and several disbelieving friends. I’m still sad, but feel like I’m coming back into myself…if that makes sense. And now, in 2020, I’m leaving my job and my home and moving to Berlin for a year (something I’ve always wanted to do but not 100% sure what I’ll do there!).

    • Esther says...

      Let‘s go for coffee when you get here! kogelboom@hotmail.com

    • Anna says...

      That’s brave, Esther. I am in a similar place, also “coming back to myself” and contemplating a move to Berlin. Best of luck with it all.

  23. Becky says...

    Anyone have resume/coverletter advice for transitioning to a new career? I find contradictory advice on how to write one. I feel like the game has changed since I went out for my first professional job ten plus years ago. I left a dependable career for a creative one that has a dependable potential. Im stuck. Of all the great changes I’ve made in my life this one has truly stumped me.

    • Emily says...

      feel free to set up a free call! emilybensonphd.com/book

    • Carolyn says...

      Check out CareerContessa. Started by a former recruiter and gulf lots of great advice for women in career transitions!

    • Johanna says...

      Personally I’ve found AskAManager’s archive to be a good resource for cover letters and the like – I feel like some of her examples are great for drafting up a cover-letter that frames career transitions in a positive light.

  24. Anna says...

    I am forging a new path by leaving the religion and faith I was raised to believe. I haven’t revealed that to my family of origin but I know it will be a big deal to them. I am not looking forward to my family of origin trying to convert my kids.

    • Terri says...

      Anna, I just wanted to say that I think this is a brave, courageous choice. I did this about a decade ago. There were very difficult aspects, including having my family try to convert my kids, or at least always bring up religion. But it also set me on a path of discovery that would not have been open to me if I had stayed. And, quite unexpectedly, I have experienced a spiritual reawakening over the last year which has led to exploring a new spiritual and religious tradition that I never would have found otherwise, which is so beautiful to me and is helping me to grow in new ways. Best wishes to you and your family! May you find what you need.

  25. Heather Gregory says...

    For me it started promptly after college. Architecture degree in hand, I wanted to get out from behind a desk and get my hands dirty so I worked for a carpenter. Then shortly after moved to a new state to work on an organic farm. I distinctly remember the phone conversation that I had with my dad telling him my plans and though they didn’t understand, my parents always supported me. Because of the most bold choices I’ve made in my life I have walked a winding, interesting, unique path and I am so grateful that I forged my own way.

    In a conversation recently with fellow entrepreneurs somebody quoted Sarah Blakely. The takeaway was this: when people express concern/fear/judgement when you are making a bold/unexpected decision, it speaks more to their limitations/discomfort than to yours.

    • JenF says...

      So good! I’ve also tried to think that when people express their concern/fear/judgment about your decisions, it’s also them trying to love you in the best way they know how to at that moment — given their limitations/discomfort. When I announce a big decision, I want to remember that I’m seeing people’s early reactions, which might be negative, and remember that I’ve probably worked through a lot of these same negative thoughts while coming to the decision in the first place! And if I’m bothered by their response — well, that shows me I have more work to do in fully owning my decision. Life’s work :-)

  26. Lisa Saffer says...

    My trajectory has been perhaps backwards. I was a constantly travelling solo musician for 30 years and began feeling more and more disconnected. I finally took a summer off for the first time in my early 50s and hung out with friends, cooked, hiked, LIVED. Now I live in a very rural area in the woods with my second husband who is a builder. I have a garden and a cat. If I could, I’d never get on an airplane ever again. So, I began with such drive for my passion and was lucky enough to achieve it and make a living from it. But it changed. My life now is calmer, deeper.

  27. S says...

    To be polyamorous-
    I hardly knew any poly people and had never expected to be someone who did this, but it is in fact the shape of love for me, and has been amazing. I am so loved and love so much.

    There are sadly not many forms of legitimacy for our family out there and many judgmental people (more than for homosexuality in many places!) but… here I am and I have no regrets.

    • Julie says...

      Good for you!

  28. On a whim I applied for an in-house photographer position at a children’s hospital after years of freelancing. I wasn’t sure I was qualified for the job, and in the interviews was honest about that. I had been through a recent cancer diagnosis that made me both want to work in a field that allowed me to help or contribute in a different way through photography and also in one that provided good benefits (freelancing insurance situation… not ideal) It required a cross country move, and it’s been such a great decision for me and my family.

  29. Emily says...

    I quit my job two days ago. I moved to the SF Bay area in May from New York for this job and ended up hating it. I don’t have a new job lined up (but am very actively applying) and haven’t technically given an end date. I just told my boss to start looking for a replacement and that I’d quit when he found someone.

    I think it’s really important in this conversation to understand that most of us who have made big changes were able to do so because of our privilege. I’m a single, white woman with a master’s degree. I don’t have enough savings to cover even a month of my life (and am swimming in credit card debt) but if my old job finds a replacement before I have a new job, I have a pretty giant safety net. I can go back to teaching. I can nanny for WAY more money than I’ve ever made. I can manage a Starbucks. I can move home with my parents or in with siblings.

    Lots and lots of people don’t have that safety net. They’re responsible for other people. They didn’t have the educational opportunities I had early in life. They don’t have family to support them. My parents are from the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” generation. And I grew up with that mentality. But as I’ve matured and become an adult, I’ve realized that someone gave me my boots – I didn’t work for them, I didn’t earn them. And there are many people who have worked harder than I ever have just to get boots in order to “pull themselves up.”

    These “change your life” conversations are fun, but it’s been important for me as I’ve upended my life to be truly aware and understanding of the privilege that allows me to make these changes.

    • Mallory says...

      YES thank you Emily! I was thinking exactly the same thing but you expressed it much better than I could have.

    • Annie says...

      “Someone gave me my boots” !! Love it. I will always see that sentiment differently now (and maybe have the courage to respond to it appropriately) Thank you Emily :)

    • A says...

      Wow! This was beautiful said, Emily! Recognizing your privilege, appreciating them and also knowing others do not have that safety net you spoke about.

    • Chris says...

      I love this response and your realization that “someone gave me my boots.” Thank you.

    • Sarah says...

      Yes! This is something I (finally) realized a few years ago (I’m 35). My husband and I quit our jobs and moved to sunny California from the east coast because…we felt like it. It was risky, sure, but it was an indulgent luxury; because of our white privilege could we assume that “it would all work out,” i.e. we’d both land new jobs because we have college degrees and white people are often given preference over poc.

    • Julia says...

      Amen!! Couldn’t agree more and such an important point to make about realizing that having the privilege of a large support net whether it be education, family, savings, race, no dependents etc., makes these kind of life changes so much easier.
      I appreciate what Megan and Harry are doing in trying to make their own life. But I also think they are trying to have it both ways – relying on their royal safety net (and all the privileges, connections and wealth inherent in that) and live an “ordinary/non-royal” albeit privileged life as well. There is a cost to everything. What that is remains to be seen.

    • Heather says...

      One more to say I loved your phrasing of “someone gave me my boots.” I’ve long agreed with your sentiment, and I hope you don’t mind me stealing your line going forward! ;)

    • Elisabeth says...

      “Someone gave me my boots.” YES. So perfectly said, and I’m going to be stealing for at future gatherings with relatives.

    • tenner says...

      This!!!

  30. Megan says...

    I’ve thought about this a lot since reading these comments. I think it is important to follow your passion and dreams but, sometimes, that’s just not feasible. Before taking a social service job, I was more inclined to think that everyone has the potential to do what they want, when they want, if they just put their minds to it! But that requires a certain amount of privilege, either implicit or explicit. There is a lot to be said for people who work thanklessly and tirelessly, day in and day out, in mundane jobs or despised professions to accomplish something bigger than themselves – helping others, providing for families, establishing stability, etc. I’m not saying the two are mutually exclusive, but it is important sometimes to do what you need to do, right where you are. Sometimes those are the people who are making the most commendable choices.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these is a great point, megan. thank you so much for making it.

    • jdp says...

      agreed, and maybe the passion IS to help people and accomplish something bigger than themselves, and that the two can dovetail in a commendable and satisfying life. (not to bring it all back to “the crown” and the royals, but i keep thinking of princess alice of battenberg.)

    • Rachel says...

      YES! THANK YOU!

    • MYC says...

      THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! Such wise words.

      Taking big leaps requires guts, yes – but in many cases it also requires a heaping pile of privilege. Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room!

  31. Ashley says...

    The decision not to have kids, despite, both implicit and explicit, expectations from family and friends felt like a radical path but it was right for us.

    • Jen says...

      Me too.

    • Emily says...

      I give you a lot of credit. The pressure can be relentless.

  32. Rosemarie Buchanan says...

    Harry will also be 36 years old this year, the same age his mother was at the time of her death. I’m sure her relative youth resonates with him that much more and reinforces the need to live to the beat of your own drum.

  33. “Courageous participation attracts positive things.” – Barry Michels

    I left a secure job in government (7 years in!) started writing plays in NYC in the morning before work. Now I do stand-up, pitch TV, and am an associate producer with E! in LA. I was literally paid the other day to watch Fleabag. Dreams do come true. :)

    • Vicky says...

      What a way more exciting path! Good for you!

  34. Andrea says...

    At 14, I made a decision to do whatever I could to go to a Jesuit high school instead of the local public school. It was a better education and reflected not settling for second best for myself, even if we were poor. The school worked to scholarship anything they could and between work study and babysitting 4 kids each night, I could just pay the $500 annual tuition and afford a bus pass.

    I was truly on my own, though. My single mother did not see why I was trying for something above my station and treated me like another adult in the household. I had no money or time or measure of being able to fail, so I was also isolated from my peers. They were adolescents and I was a DIY adult.

    The ROI has been high and there was literally no other way I could have made something I wanted out of my life, but it was also not without its costs.

    • Jackie says...

      Really proud of you Andrea. Thank you for knowing your worth and sacrificing so much to get where you should be.

  35. S says...

    This is a timely post for me (and many others, it seems!). I’ve been working in my current field as a Medical Laboratory Scientist for almost 8 years, it’s what I’ve got my degree in, and it was the “safe choice”. Now I’m feeling dispassionate about it and a lack of enthusiasm which has me dreading coming in to work every day. Every day I feel called back to art and illustration, which has been a hobby of mine since I could hold a pencil. This combined with some shifting in mine and my husband’s lives recently has us feeling like it’s time for a change. Time to do the work to make the transition.

  36. H says...

    I’m turning 45 on Tuesday. This year I completed an artist residency (loved it!), wrote an overdue love-letter to my crush (he was flattered), ran 10km, started my PhD (hated it! dropped it with no regrets) and even started online dating (the biggest sigh ever). 
I’m about to massively scale back my job and leave the city I originally came to for someone else, now long gone. I may relocate to somewhere small and in the woods.

    There have been many changes this year, but I’m convinced the next few months will be interesting and worth it. I am an artist, I am still thinking about motherhood and I am surprisingly optimistic about finding a constant love out there, somewhere.

    • Ashley K says...

      Happy Birthday H! I have a sneaky suspicion this is going to be your favorite year, yet. Cheering you on.

  37. JB says...

    The older I get, the more I realize our university system is flawed. Aside from churning out degrees for cash to ill-prepared young people, this endless push to declare yourself at the age of 18 is preposterous. I work in in an industry that I am passionate about it and happy in my work, and my schooling allowed that, but one of the kindest things I ever did for myself was take all Art History electives. It was never something I would pursue as a career, but I made my brain and my heart happy and I learned so much: about observation, story-telling, writing, emotions, everything that business and social science theory was not teaching me.

    A lot of the angst I see in these comments is related to: feeling like one made the “wrong choice” for their degree, or that their degree doesn’t perfectly align with their career trajectory. If I could go back, I would look at my college years less like a springboard into the future and more like a deep ocean, where I am a happy sponge :)

    • Victoria says...

      yes, i completely agree!! after i graduated last year, i immediately began to feel that “wrong degree” angst. and the guilt & worry that came from it was so overwhelming that i spent the next 6 months feeling paralyzed and terrified about what my next step would be.

      i absolutely love the idea of looking at my time in uni as a moment where i absorbed and grew, instead of as the determinant for the rest of my career. thank you for sharing jb!

  38. Heather says...

    I worked in a stable job for 16 years for a great company (5 weeks vacation, practically free health benefits, 35 hour work weeks, etc.), and yet, it still felt like my soul was being sucked through my eyeballs with each day I sat chained to a cubicle. (A Cup of Jo saved me so often!) Eventually, my husband and I sold our house, packed everything up and moved to Hawaii, thinking we would be there forever, as he also burnt himself out as a business owner. We figured that we would find jobs and rebuild life there, where snow was something that happened on the very tip of the mountain tops, and not something that destroyed your winter commute. As it turned out, the universe had other plans, and we were meant to come back to the mainland so that I could attend graduate school to become an acupuncturist! So here I am, two years into a full-time, three year Master’s program, one semester away from beginning my clinical internship. I’m 42. This feels like what I should have been doing ten years ago, when I first considered it, and I have some sadness that I held myself back from pursuing it sooner because of the notions of “security” promised by my old job. I definitely had security then that I don’t have now (hello, living on my husband’s income, often feeling like a leech, taking on massive loans to pay for my program). And yet, this is the path I was meant to take. I’ve had life experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. When I graduate and get licensed, I’ll be in the field that makes my body vibrate with happiness. To anyone who is on the fence, make the pivot.

  39. I suffered a deeply traumatic brain injury when a total stranger attacked me with a brick in a park! A year down the line (it took me that long to be able to think straight!) I left my partner of six years and opened my own yoga studio; I was 28 years old. Everyone thought I was mad – including me – but the business is going from strength to strength and so am I.

    • Erin G. says...

      Wow Zoe! This is incredible. I am so very happy for the incredible life change you’ve made out of such a horrible experience. Go go go!

  40. When I left my marriage. No regrets at all. You only know who you are once you’ve tested yourself. And my son and I have the most awesome relationship.
    I actually cheered when I read the Meghan and Harry news. Good for them! The Royal family threw that poor woman under the bus and I have no regard for them whatsoever. I hope they can make it their own way and be happy all the rest of their days.

    • Amber says...

      Nobody threw Meghan under the bus. She was welcomed with respect. The press has often been nasty but there is no evidence of the family being so, She received all due consideration. The problem is she never returned that respect or consideration. Harry and Meghan have every right to live their own life but they had a duty to do it with respect for the family that has given Harry his privileged life and his platform. He didn’t do it alone. If they are as sincere as they claim to be, let them give up all privileges, not only the ones they choose to, and learn how to live as totally independent people. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s like having a job. You want to leave it because it doesn’t suit you, you do so but with respect so you don’t end up looking like a fool. This is Harry’s family and they were there long before he met Meghan. He has the right to walk away but with courtesy, especially to the grandmother, whom, it is known, has always taken a special interest in him. In the end it boils down to basic manners which this pair seem to lack.

    • Syl says...

      @Amber I think that if you do nothing in the face of wrong doing, in this case the media’s racist attacks on one of their family members, you are complicit. And the manner in which they have decided to leave signifies just how little the family truly welcomed her into the fold. Maybe it’s rude, but sometimes you have to be in order to be heard, and for things to change. I’m a Canadian and I lived in the UK for a decade with my British husband and his family. I’m no royal, but it was really difficult to feel accepted, and to flow within a culture of class, pleasantries and passive aggression. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her — regardless of privilege. In previous jobs, I have mostly been respectful and given appropriate notice, but there have been a few situations that compromised my sense of worth to where I felt no notice to be appropriate. And I have no regrets about that.

    • Elise says...

      Totally agree with what Amber said above.

    • Maggie says...

      As an American who married a Brit – and by no means a Royal – I can attest it is an incredibly difficult culture to enter into. Its clannish, classist, passive-aggressive and mired in centuries of tradition and anti-individualism. I am almost 20 years in and still feel an outsider. When Meghan and Harry got engaged I wanted to scream “RUN AWAY, GIRL! RUN!” It is not without its challenges. That said, I love England and that my children are half so.

    • Shannon says...

      Amen to what Syl and Maggie said about British acceptance of outsiders! I’m also an American married to a Brit and 100% agree—it’s a very insular, clannish culture, and is difficult to feel accepted. After years of living with my husband in London, we moved back to New York. I love the UK, but the move was the best decision we ever made for our family. I can see exactly why Meghan and Harry left!

  41. Funny, I just made a comic about this – https://www.instagram.com/p/B7FHPo-BkOF/

    I was laid off from my job a few years ago, and after riding out unemployment for as long as possible. I just couldn’t bring myself to get another marketing job. I was struggling with the idea of convincing people to spend money they didn’t have on things they don’t need. I didn’t want to go back to sitting at a desk for the next 15 years. So I decided to become a barista!

    Sure it is a LOT less money, but I have a partner who supported and encouraged me to go for it. It would allow me to be home more with the dog and save on dog walking expenses. And most importantly it would make me happy!

    It’s been about a year and half, and it’s been even better than I thought it would be. I love chatting with people every day, making lattes and whatnot. But also it has allowed me the headspace to think about my future, and what I want out of it. I started freelancing as a graphic designer (something I dabbled in throughout my marketing career), I started drawing and hand-lettering and making comics, and I’m working on growing this into a legitimate business that my boyfriend will soon join me in!

    Change is scary but so, so worth it!

    • JB says...

      Love this. Hooray for being brave and hooray for partners that give space to figure things out.

    • Kim says...

      I just checked out your work on instagram. Its great! Keep going! Best of luck.

  42. SFAAB says...

    Hello COJ friends,

    Although I have been reading this blog for years, this is my first time commenting. This post couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. A little backstory:

    10 years ago I graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and had begun applying to medical schools. I took a SCUBA diving class during my last semester of college, realized it was amazing, and decided to ‘postpone’ everything else.

    Over the next 8 years, I became a SCUBA instructor and taught cold-water and tropical diving. I traveled the world and loved every minute of it.

    But over the years, the physicality and long hours of the job got to me. And I decided I needed to start thinking about a switch again. I have had a harder time figuring out my passion.

    I currently work as an administrator in a hospital and I will be graduating with my online Masters in Healthcare Administration degree in a few months. I felt the pressure (from myself) to “just pick something” instead of being stuck at a standstill, so I picked the MHA degree. I figured any movement was better than no movement.

    But I do not feel fulfilled. I feel stuck. Anytime I ask for advice from my family and friends they say “you can do whatever you put your mind to” and “follow your dreams”. But how do I figure out what that is?

    I am beginning to apply for teaching positions. I am leaning toward becoming a middle school science teacher (a 3-year program which begins this summer).

    Am I crazy? Am I just being restless? Should I stick out this job to see if it gets better? What if I do not like teaching and I am just on another long road?

    Signed,
    Lost and Confused

    P.S. Sorry for the long post.
    P.P.S. I have enjoyed reading all of your stories. It gives me hope. :)

    • SFAAB says...

      Follow-up questions:
      Any COJ readers who are science teachers?

      What do you like about your job?
      What do you like least?
      What advice would you give me?

      Thank you :)

    • Emily says...

      I’m also a career-changer – I worked in tech for a bit, then joined the NYC Teaching Fellows program (two year program than heavily subsidizes your masters degree) and became a math teacher. I’ve bounced around a lot between schools and even left the classroom for a bit to work at an education nonprofit. Now I’m back as a high school engineering teacher.

      School experience varies drastically, so think long and hard about whether you’d like to work in public, private, or charter (I have worked in all of them – all have pros and cons!). I like teenagers, I like the content I teach (way more exciting as an engineering teacher vs math), I love that the day flies by every day. I also love the vacations – summer is such a wonderful, reflective, open time for me, and I struggled in an office setting when time just seemed to float, versus the seasonal feel of an academic schedule. However, teaching is also incredibly emotionally draining, and I work A TON on evenings and weekends (eat my lunch at my desk) to keep up with the million things that teachers need to do. I am often jealous of my partner who works a normal office job and is done when he comes home and gets to do whatever, when I am stressed out and finishing lessons for tomorrow! I am also constantly frustrated by the teacher evaluation system – all through school and corporate life, I got As and great performance reviews, and it feels so personal to get middling teaching evaluations when I work so hard on a lesson and it gets nitpicked (and when I don’t think the evaluator could do a better job!). I also often question the “system” of public education and the push for everyone to go to college when a number of my students would be better off in other programs/schools/classes, and they don’t want to be in my room but are required to be.

      Sigh. It really is a balance! I usually get bored in other non-teaching jobs, but teaching is the opposite of boring (to me). Hopefully these anecdotes helped? I never thought about going into teaching until I volunteered for a year as a high school teacher abroad – I’d recommend trying out teaching on a smaller scale before jumping into a 3 year commitment, unless you’re quite sure. But you’re never stuck!

    • Court says...

      Hi SFAAB,
      I am a middle school English teacher. It’s my 7th year teaching 7th grade. I absolutely love my job. I love the kids so, so much. I love their drama, mood swings, eye rolls, notes, hoodies, tears (there are so, so many tears in middle school), snacks, giggles, questions, forgetfulness, and more.
      Teaching is really hard and teaching middle school is really, really hard. It’s not as much about the content as it is about the relationships you form with the kids. You have to love the kids in order to love it because your kids might not love Science, but you want them to love YOU. I have kids tell me often that they hate reading (EEKS!) but love my class so there is a balance. I hope whatever do you makes you happy. Good luck! xx

    • J says...

      I don’t have answers to your questions but I feel your post 100%. I was applying to medical schools and decided against it right after putting them through.
      I have taken all sorts of positions since then trying to find my place and was hired to be a substitute teacher while I am also applying to a 1 year teachers certificate program to teach science. My thought – if you think you might like the idea as well – is I can be a substitute and see if I like/dislike teaching on a very flexible basis and then go to school if it feels right. This also keeps students and the school from replacing me if I went in full time and realized I was out of place. It is sooo hard when you don’t know what your “thing” is and you don’t know which road to take… or to stay. Especially when you know you’d have the guts and ability to do it if you could just figure that part out. But I am convinced that staying still is almost never right if your gut is telling you something is off.
      I really hope we both find something that makes us feel at home <3

    • Emily Buckingham says...

      Middle school science! You can totally do it.

      I didn’t know what I wanted in life right after college. (BS in Biology but there was NO WAY I was going to medical school.) I applied for the New York City Teaching Fellows program and did that. It’s basically Teach for America but they don’t send you to random places. They train you for six weeks in the summer and then throw you into your own classroom in the fall. The program subsidizes a master’s degree in education and was a great, low-risk way for me to get into the workforce (or for someone to change careers(. Most major cities have teaching fellows programs. The commitment is usually two years and there is no personal financial obligation for you. In New York, you even get paid as if you had a degree in education and were just like any other first year teacher (which isn’t great money, but it’s a salary).

    • J says...

      @Emily – how did you end up enjoying teaching in the end? I have to know

    • Lauren says...

      For those who are interested in science and education, especially if you thought med school might be your thing, consider genetic counseling! It’s a two year master’s degree, a great job market, and a lot of what we do is science education.

    • Ella says...

      MS science teacher here, I love it! I 2nd what others have said (it’s draining, you’re not done on the weekends, you have to love that age and it’s not all about the content it’s about relationships and teaching them other skills). Kids and families are going through a lot & it all comes into the classroom. I regularly feel like the system is messed up and I can’t do enough or make it individual enough. But it’s what I want to do & love to do. Before you commit try to spend time with that age, if you sub remember that is really different than your own class (a good experience but harder in many ways). If you do it get a mentor and pick everyone’s brain for class management and lessons, etc. Give yourself grace the first few years. 100% would choose it again but most of the people who were in my program are not currently teaching 10 years later…

    • Been There says...

      If you really, really love kids, teaching might be a good choice. But it is not for everyone and it is a tough job, but for the right person it can be rewarding.

      Sometimes, one can find a way to stick with what they are doing and wind up finding fulfillment. Consider the ways in which your current field helps others, even if the line isn’t direct?

      Most jobs can get tedious at times. Most jobs go through dull phases. Most careers have aspects that we like less and aspects we like more. Sometimes (not always) changing your mindset is more helpful than changing careers.

      Just some thoughts to consider. Good luck.

  43. Working on trying to forge my own path. I think because my parents had to work so hard, money has always been the topic of conversation for me and my siblings. I want to stick with my passions (whether they bring in large revenue or not). I think I am learning to be okay with the decisions I make and remind myself that this is the life I have to live

  44. I quit my job and moved from the Midwest to San Francisco in 2008 (not the best timing — ‘ahem’ 2008 financial crisis). It had been a dream for years and after I turned 30 and a long-term relationship fell apart I just went for it. I was able to stay with friends (thank you Jess and Maggie!) and live from savings until I found a job … selling overpriced gelato and chocolates in Noe Valley. I can imagine how thrilled my parents were when their Masters degree- holding daughter was smiling for tips from tipsy late-night patrons with a sweet tooth. My sensible dad wanted me to move back, while my mom sweetly encouraged me that everything would work out. She reminded me that my grandfather had arrived from Germany to New York City in 1926 with a good education and a few bucks, ending up with another degree, finding a lovely and intelligent partner in my grandmother, a job at a prestigious private school, and building a family and life in beautiful New Hampshire. And it did work out for me. I rented a room from a friend of a friend (thanks Anna and Trish!), eventually finding a job in my field, and falling in love. Eleven years later I’ve realized many other dreams, moving to Europe with my now-husband and our three kids and starting to work again outside the home. My parents have both passed away recently and I realize more than ever how fragile and unpredictable life is. There is no perfect time. There is no right answer. If it feels right, if your gut is telling you it’s something you need to do, do it today.

  45. As a Brit, I have nothing but pure respect for Harry & Meghan. When she first came into the Royal Family, she annoyed me slightly – she seemed to be trying too hard, but now I think she was just trying to find her place in a restrictive and outdated institution, all the while under the unforgiving glare of the despicable British tabloids.

    In an interview she once said that ‘it’s not enough to survive, you’ve got to thrive’, and therefore the effect she’s had on Harry – freeing him to make those decisions so he can live his best life – are the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him.

    Meghan has inspired me HUGELY to stop doing the things that bring me no joy, just because I feel I have to. No more going to events I don’t want to attend, being around people who drain me, working with clients who bring nothing but stress or anything else I’m expected to do – and it’s the most liberating feeling in the world!

    • Dana says...

      Lara – I’ve been pouring over “Megxit” (ugh) and this is one of the best, most inspirational things I’ve read, about Meghan’s positive impact on Harry. The man could have chosen just about anyone to partner with in this life, and loves someone who is also a changemaker, with a charitable heart. Thank you!

    • Cait says...

      Thank you for saying this. I actually think Harry has long wanted out, but didn’t see the path. He found someone that he can be truly happy with who doesn’t care about the royal life and he can be free.

  46. joana says...

    i’m currently facing the toughest decision of my life: stay with my boyfriend, whom i love more than i’ve ever loved anybody else, and not have kids, or break up and see what the future holds for me. i’m one of those people who’ve always imagined herself with kids, but suddenly, faced with this crossroads, i’m not sure. i can’t say i think i’ll be unhappy without them, i can envision a happy life just the two of us, but will there be a hole at some point? a hole that at that point i won’t be able to fill anymore?
    i’m 35, which is young, but still, time is not infinite for this kind of life-altering decision.
    i’m really at a loss as to how to solve this, how to make this incredibly hard decision and be sure (as much as possible) of it.
    sorry for the rambling :)

    • Janet Boseovski says...

      If it helps any: people are terrible at affective forecasting (i.e., figuring out how they will feel about important life decisions). Don’t make a decision based on the anticipation of regret; ask yourself how you feel NOW and proceed accordingly. As a (very happy) childfree person, I initially wondered whether I would regret my decision, but I only had the current version of myself on which to base my decision. Well, 19 years of marriage, no kids, a full life…very glad I listened to my instincts. Best of luck to you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my mom studied affective forecasting in grad school, it’s so fascinating!

    • Ashley says...

      Taking a minute to send you some love. I was in the same position as you about 10 years ago. I chose to stay with my boyfriend (now husband of 5 years) and I am truly happy. I don’t pretend to have the answers for you, but I remember so clearly those days and wanted to let you know you’re not alone. Also, when I was in your position, I was desperate for stories of people who had chosen not to have kids and been happy. There was no end to examples of families with children but it was harder to find happy examples of the opposite, much less women that had “chosen” a husband over children. I’m only 37, but have been committed to living a child free life for 10 years now without any major fall out. I will not lie and say it’s been without challenges or that I haven’t had moments over the years but far and away, this decision has been a good one and most importantly the right one for me and my family.

    • joana says...

      Janet and Ashley, thank you so, so much for your comments! i’ve been refreshing this page hoping for comments just like yours. hoping to feel less alone, to feel that it’s possible to be happy with a version of your life that wasn’t what you imagined it would be. it really helps, thank you.***

    • Lauren says...

      Hi Joana, What a very tough decision. Wishing you strength and peace as you move through it. My husband and I go back and forth on whether we think we will have kids or not (we want them, but have some challenges to work through). I have been looking in to ways to be a support to kids without being a parent. We are in the US and the Boys and Girls Club and CASA are two options.

    • Kate says...

      Hi, Joana,

      On my husband’s 40th birthday as we sipped cocktails on the shore of a millions-year-old lake in the state where we both grew up, he announced that he didn’t want to have kids. We were both ambivalent about having children (we loved kids! we loved our child-free life!) and had casually tried to get pregnant (not using birth control) for more than a year, hoping fate would decide. My OBGYN finally made it clear that having children was definitely possible, but we’d have to *try* try. We’d had endless conversations—with each other and with our friends who had kids, with our parents and their friends, with strangers—but couldn’t figure out what to do.

      In that moment by the lake I was grateful for my husband’s decisiveness, and we toasted our decision, but in bed that night I got scared. “If we aren’t going to have kids you have to promise you’ll never, ever leave me,” I said, and he did. He promised never to leave, and then he left, three years later, for a married woman who was pregnant with she and her husband’s first child. She eventually left her husband and she and my ex are now raising her son together.

      When he left I was most likely too old to have children and deeply regretted following my husband’s lead. But I could not imagine navigating a divorce with kids. Yet I also wondered if he’d have left at all if we had them.

      Five years ago I started dating a man who was an every-other-weekend dad to a 1-year-old. I loved having her in my life, and I loved it when she went home to her mom. But a couple of years into our relationship we learned her mom had alcohol-use disorder, and my step-daughter came to live with us full time. Because I met her when she was so young, I am as much a parent to her as her biological mom and dad, and while I initially resented the responsibilities of parenting a child I hadn’t chosen to have, I would not now trade this life with her for anything in the world, including a happy marriage with my ex, either with or without kids.

      All of which is to stay I agree with Janet—don’t make a decision based on fear of regret. Both because people are bad at forecasting and because you just don’t know what the future holds. What you know—the only thing you know—is right there with you in this moment: a boyfriend you love more than you’ve ever loved anybody else. That love is a gift.

      The potential outcomes of your decision are infinite, terrifying, wonderful—you could stay and make a beautiful, full life with the person you love most in the world; you could stay and regret not having kids; you could stay and both change your minds and birth or adopt or foster children; you could stay and he could die or leave you; you could leave and have kids that you cannot imagine life without; you could leave and not be able to have kids; you could leave and have kids but have a different hole in your life: the boyfriend you left; you could leave and have kids and not like parenting; and on and on and on.

      Although it took me a while to get there, my ex remained my family and one of the most important people in my life. This past summer, my current partner, my stepdaughter, and I went for dinner at the home of my ex-husband, the woman he left me for, and her son. The kids ran around the house playing hide-and-seek while the grown-ups chatted—at first carefully, and then comfortably, and that night my family changed yet again. It became bigger.

      I could not have imagined that night a decade ago, when I was happily married to the man I loved more than I had ever loved anybody before. I would not have known then to wish for what I have now; I would have been scared of it if you’d told me. But now I have it and it is what I want and I am so, so grateful.

      I don’t think there is a right or wrong decision, Joana, but if I had to go back I would choose again not to have kids with that man I loved, because in spite of the regret I felt in between, it was the path to the life I lead now.

      Good luck! And I’m REALLY sorry for rambling :)

    • Charlotte says...

      Wow, Kate, your story is incredible and so wonderfully written. THANK YOU so much for sharing, your words really touched me.

    • Lisa says...

      @Kate – I just have to comment and say your story was GRIPPING – what a wild ride, and I love how it all ended up. Life is so crazy and unexpected sometimes. I think I will think about your story for a long time. So glad to know you’re exactly where you should be.

    • Jenna says...

      Joana, I have been going back and forth all day thinking about how I can even begin to reply to your honest, heart-breaking, and brave words. Your story could not have come at a better time as I, too, am going through the exact same situation – I could have written your words myself.

      I can tell you that when my boyfriend and I started talking about kids, and it became clear that he did not want them, I went back and forth for a long time. Would I be happy with “just” him? Maybe we get a dog, build a house, I continue to further myself in the career I love.

      What I’ve come to realize, though, is I don’t think I can make that sacrifice, even if loving him seems like the most important thing I’ll ever do. The unknowns are terrifying – Will I ever get over this love? Will I ever find someone I love as much as him and who I even WANT to have kids with? And if I don’t, then I’m faced with the prospect that I’ve lost not only my relationship with him but the hope of having a family of my own one day, too.

      Over the past few months working through this decision, though, I’ve realized this: I don’t want to make the decision to stay with him, convincing myself I’ll be happy with this life I never pictured for myself, and wake up in 10 years resenting the man who I now love so much. When I came to the realization that even the POSSIBILITY of having children is more important than my relationship with him, I felt so much more at peace. I am signing a lease to a new apartment on Monday, and move out on my own at the end of the month. I’m terrified, sad, and worried I’m making the wrong decision but I am also hopeful, excited, and even catch myself daydreaming of the day I get to hold my baby in my arms. I don’t think I’d be having those daydreams if I had chosen to stay, and I ask myself, what else would I be dreaming about if not for that sweet, not-even-close to being conceived baby of mine?

      I’ll be thinking about you and hope you find the clarity you need in making this (almost!) impossible decision. Your words (and the comments that followed) have meant so much to me. x

    • E says...

      I was there, too. I talked my partner into having a child (my amazing, indomitable, astounding daughter) and have no regrets. She lights my life. But I was, until my 30s, ambivalent about having kids, and to be honest, the loss of autonomy and freedom has been difficult for my partner and me. I heard someone say kids bring more joy but less fun, and that may be true. Although I have no regrets, I absolutely, and always, try to reassure women that there is no right or easy answer, and that both paths involve their struggles. Best of luck. (If I had to choose between partner and daughter, she wins every time. Unimaginable to me back then, when we were struggling with the decision.)

    • Katey says...

      Hi Joana. You will have a happy, fulfilling life no matter what you decide. But…. when I read about a person making a unilateral decision like this, my red flags start waving all over the place.

      We think it is harmless, just a preference, just an opinion. But, the power dynamics of pregnancy make it way more than that. Ultimately, your boyfriend is saying “I want life on my terms. You cool with that?” I don’t know all the ins and outs of your relationship, but I don’t think I need to. There is already a huge hole in your life; it’s the one your boyfriend is digging. He is digging away at your life options. By going along with his preference you are really giving up a lot of your own agency. I understand relationships take compromise, etc. but this isn’t compromise. He is not open to your life plans. He isn’t considering you at all. The way I see it, he doesn’t want to have kids for the rest of his life and if you’re there, great. If not….fine.

      I might sound like an alarmist, but this is a slippery slope. What else do you go along with in order to stay with this guy? Food for thought. Ultimately it is a simple question you have to consider for your own, individual life: do I want kids? (Not: do I want kids with my bf; do I want kids some day; will being an aunt be rewarding?) Do I want kids? Your answer will tell you what to do. The important thing is it will be YOUR answer.

      My boyfriend (now husband) didn’t want to have kids. I did. It was a conversation we had for a month and it turned out he had no idea what he was talking about. He loved his family (parents, grandparents, sibs) more than anything. It never occurred to him that by having children he’d be creating his own family. Now, with two kids, he’s a great dad. Truly. He loves being a dad.

    • Diana says...

      I feel for you! These choices are so, so hard! I had the hardest time deciding whether to have a child or not. I was very ambivalent about it and my husband wanted to, and it was definitely on the table that he might want to end our marriage if I decided not to. The best piece of advice (I think from the comments section of this website!) I got was to try comparing best case scenario to best case scenario, mixed to mixed, and worst to worst from each choice. This helped me clarify things. Something else that helped me was something my mom once told me – which is that if you’re having a hard time making a decision, that means that both choices have something strong in favor of them, so in some sense there might not be a *wrong* choice. Best to make a choice with whatever information you have and then try to move forward and not second guess yourself too much. In point of fact, we know very little about what the future holds for us (which is a fact that often makes me feel like just hiding under my covers, but there it is nonetheless – and it’s true for things both good and bad!).

  47. KL says...

    4 months after having our second child in the USA, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs and move to France. It is my husband’s home country, but we had no jobs lined up and are currently in job searching limbo. Every day the career oriented part of my brain is freaking out, but little by little I am finding how much I am treasuring the extra time with our kids and the many possibilities of what we may do next.

  48. J says...

    Thank you for this!

    So many of the articles I’ve read have taken a stand – either pro or anti-megxit. I love how this post is not at all divisive, and truly attempts to empathise. In doing so, you also encourage others to understand.

    I really love how Cup of Jo brings a community of people together :)

  49. Katie says...

    I am so glad you have phrased this post so elegantly. I’ve spent the day – in Australia, mind you -who have been happy to rip to shreds the integrity of the decision/marriage/motivations behind the announcement. I just wish people would be kind about people they’ve never met!
    The comments on this post are amazing however – it’s on par with the “how has life surprised you?” post, which I’d encourage everyone to look up. Seems there is a huge impact to be made in sharing our stories of courage to each other!

    • Katie says...

      Edit to the above – “I’ve spent the day- in Australia, mind you – *with people* who have…”

  50. Nat says...

    I forged my own path when I graduated law school, took the California bar, only to give up my dreams of becoming a CA lawyer one month later when I met my Canadian boyfriend (now husband) in Kenya. We moved in together weeks after we met. Three years later, we are still in Nairobi with a house, a garden, a dog, a cat, and two jobs that take us into war-torn places. Everyone thinks we are totally crackers. The experience taught me that my dreams can change within an instant. Going against convention can yield the most beautiful life results.

  51. Mary says...

    I love how you’ve framed this take on Harry and Meghan. I made the decision to leave my dysfunctional family. I wrote what will probably be my last letter to them over the holidays. I have learned so much from them and not all of it was bad of course but I finally (after many years) feel ready to move on from something that tore my heart to bits. I love a scene from the film the holiday where Kate Winslet is encouraged by an older and wiser gentleman she befriends (and I now can’t remember the name of -apologies!) to be the leading lady of her own life. For too long I feel like I didn’t own my life. I felt like the victim of it, as if other people had more power than me. But now I’m readying myself to get into the driving seat. I’m finally starting to care less what people think. This is my life. I’m proud I made a stand and enabled the dysfunction to stop with this generation. I’m going to live my perfectly imperfect life my way. Here’s to new starts. If ever the new year was timed well this years one was! Thank you ladies for always being an inspiring and supportive place on the internet.

    • Kylee says...

      The film is The Holiday. I love that film – cheesy in the best way!

  52. B says...

    Gosh, what a funny coincidence of a post! Today, I was reflecting on an awful summer internship that I had during college in a brand new city. Many times during the summer, I contemplated quitting. I remember that I was miserable at the position but ended up seeking mentorship and guidance elsewhere. This led to me in a meeting with my future graduate program director’s, where she convinced me to apply to the program (which I’d previously thought I was unqualified to do) and allowed me to hear my future thesis advisor talk for the first time, which got me interested in his group.

    Now, as I’m almost done with that graduate program, I’m contemplating moving halfway across the world for the perfect job. I’m actually considering leaving my graduate program to do it.

    I still don’t know what I’m going to do.

    I don’t think the answers in life are ever quite as black and white as we want them to be, but in reading this post and reading the comments, it stuck me that our journeys in life are never quite as tidy we planned, but they still sure are beautiful.

  53. Natasa says...

    I’ve left my flourishing career in finance and move to a new country which language I didn’t speak and no job waiting for me at arrival to be with my (then future) husband. I’ve learned so much, life experiences are priceless!

  54. Owl says...

    Beautiful and inspiring comments. Mine is going to offer a slightly different perspective, though.

    First, I have to say that my parents left our homeland when I was a kid in order to find a better life here. When their marriage didn’t “fit” anymore, they divorced rather amicably. Those are just two examples of many more illustrating how I come from a family that forges new paths for themselves, so I see the value and possibilities that kind of choice can give you. As a child, we moved quite a bit and I experienced a lot of change, too.

    For me, though, the strength and courage was needed to learn to stay. Beginnings are always full of promise, but seeing things through – even through the difficult and boring phases – that leads to something very special. For example, I went through a phase when I could hardly stand my career. I hated it (loathed each morning), I wondered how I would survive and how in the world I was going to get out. But somehow, I stuck with it and eventually I started to like it, even love it. I look back at more than two decades in my profession, and I feel I’ve made a difference in some people’s lives. I’ve had difficult times but also wonderful times and rewarding moments, too. So my point is that sometimes – yes – a new start is necessary. However, if you can’t leave your situation right now, whatever it may be, find a way of doing your best and doing it with love. Grow the life you have, even through the difficult and boring times. You might be surprised at the beauty that lies at the end. Marriages can improve, careers can become rewarding. I read somewhere that the grass is always greener… where you water it. Water your life, the life that you have right now, and see where it takes you. The depth of this type of experience can be very rewarding. Xo

    • S says...

      Love this.

    • Anamarija says...

      “Grass is always greener..where you water it.”
      A simple beautiful truth.

    • Audra says...

      I could not agree more! There’s a time to start over, begin again, reinvent yourself. And there are times you stay put. Stick it out and invest. Suffer through the work, the mundane, the ordinary. I’m almost 52 and our kids are only 11 and under. A lot of searching, false starts, locked doors and disappointments preceded my wonderful marriage and family coming to fruition. Having achieved my dreams for my personal life, now I’m bored with my work, haha that’s how it goes! Good luck to all the strivers but remember to not quit too soon. Good things happen even at home with the people you love with lives that don’t look glamorous to outsiders.

  55. Mishi says...

    Im living it now. Quit my boring, safe job. Moved halfway across the world to Brookly. When Joanna rode past me in Gowanus I almost died!

    • Whitney says...

      So happy for you, Mishi! And, I think I’d have done the same :)

  56. Megan says...

    Currently forging my own path: I decided to have a kid on my own, and I’m 28 weeks pregnant. I know I’m in for a hard road, one which I’m sure seems crazy to some people. I’ve gotten a couple of comments along the lines of “That’s an… interesting choice.” And I don’t know what the outcome will be. But this decision was the most empowering of my life, and somehow it feels like nothing can go too wrong, exactly *because* I decided to take a risk and carve out the life that I wanted. No matter what happens, knowing that I had it in me to to pursue my dream of becoming a mother is transformational.

    Echoing others–I love how CoJ decided to engage with Meghan and Harry’s news, and the way you framed this conversation!

    • agnes says...

      Congratulations Megan! Have a safe and easy pregnancy and keep us posted!

    • Jess Mill says...

      Megan!

      Hell yeah! I’ve been flirting with the idea of this and love seeing women take charge of their own happiness. What a lucky baby!

      x J

    • Neile says...

      Best of luck to you as you enter motherhood!

  57. This is exactly what I’m going through! I’m in my final semester of college. I’ve worked very hard and have a good shot at getting my dream job right out of college, but I feel like I have too many other dreams I want to pursue before I settle down. For example, I’m hoping to live in France for a bit and thru hike the Appalachian Trail and THEN revisit the job. It’s not that I’m throwing it away, I’m just saving it for later. It’s hard to turn away from it, but I don’t want to settle until I’ll be happy settling and not feel regret for missing these opportunities while I’m young. It’s hard not having the support from my family that I’d have if I took the job, but at the end of the day, it’s my life and I need to be confident in making decisions for me.

    • Katrina says...

      I think you are 100% doing the right thing. Your early/mid 20s are absolutely THE best time for diversions, career-wise. The older you are, and more settled you get, the harder it is to justify picking up and moving and re-starting. Your entire career won’t be derailed by starting a few years later.
      But also – be open to where the “diversion” might lead you. It was waitressing in the Caribbean 10+ years ago that I stumbled into my first “real” (career-focused) job, and met the man who is now my husband. It is during this period of diversion that I created an entirely new path for myself…I am now married, own a home, & have a thriving career working for a Fortune 15 company – I just do it all from that tiny little island I diverted to 10 years ago :) (Don’t worry – I still get grief from my family too; that’s par for the course).

    • Ashley says...

      Parrish, just wanted to say that I moved to France when I was 22 (to work as an au pair) and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I spent the next year traveling the world to India, Asia, and Europe, all on a shoestring budget. The whole time I was freaked out about not getting a job when I got home, but I ended up getting a job, moving to Colorado and having an amazing life there. Anyway this is a long-winded way of saying GO FOR IT. You’ll never regret prioritizing your dreams AND your career.

  58. Carla says...

    I didn’t have a life list of things to do or have at a certain age. Instead what I had back when I was in college was a list of things I don’t want to do before I turn 27.

    In a world where most of my cousins were marrying and giving birth early and with every occasion my aunts and other relatives kept on asking me when I’ll get married, my list included not to get married before 27 or just not to get married at all, just don’t do it early. So I hadn’t entertained suitors before I was 24 and spent most of my time with family and friends. To others it may seemed foolish but I must say, it was one of the best decisions in my life along with the other “not to” in my list.

  59. Ramya says...

    For me, it was definitely a little over three years ago, when I decided to leave the life-sucking relationship that I had with my ex-husband, going against cultural norms and my own personal views on marriage, parenthood and commitment. Being a single mother isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the beautiful, intentional and fulfilled life that I have today!

    Also in relation to this subject, some of you might be interested in the “Lessons from a Quitter” podcast, which profiles stories from people who have “quit” and forged new paths in some way: http://www.lessonsfromaquitter.com/

  60. Just saw something on IG that this post reminds me of. I’d love to read the opposite take of “30 under 30” about women who’ve “made it” later in life (aka, post or during motherhood, starting brand new careers after a decade in the workforce, etc). I struggle with how to shift course while in the midst of raising young kiddos, paying off debt, and all that adulting.

    • Lindsay says...

      Yes! I am doing this now too, as a very new mom. It’s worth it, but I would love to talk to others about it.

    • This would make a compelling series….

  61. E.D. says...

    I think that I have been unconsciously inspired by my parents and have always been the forge my own path kind of person. My dad was one of those immigrants who left his country with $150 in his pocket to come to the US not speaking English and not knowing anyone or what his future would hold. My mom made a decision to leave a toxic family behind her. I’ve always chased my dreams and taken unconventional paths. I went as far away for college as I could get and delighted in it. As an adult, I’ve been extremely fortunate and have lived more years abroad more than I’ve lived in my home country. Sure, I could have made other choices along the way, but I wouldn’t have the life I have now if I had. I’ve always done what has felt right and good to me, and I also have to acknowledge that I had a lot of parental support in my early 20s (both financial and the yes, follow your dreams kind of support).

  62. H says...

    This is all so inspiring! I’ve mostly convinced myself that I belong on earth to help people shine rather than shine myself. So I’ve forged a career history of working for small women owned businesses so I can contribute to the growth of things I believe in. I really do get a lot of pride and joy from being a team’s MVP rather than a team’s owner. But I know deep down that one of these years, the creative energy inside me is going to bubble up and out of me to pour into some independent endeavor that is my own. I get haunted by the idea that I’m wasting precious time by not owning my own business now, but the truth is it actually can wait. I don’t have the fire, focus, or the moral conscience to even think about leaving my job right now. But I often crave that feeling of fear, anticipation, and nerves that precede change. It’s really, really cool to read everyone’s stories! Courage is my second favorite character after kindness. So much respect to the women here!

    (H&M seem a little lost, imo. I wish them luck in forging their own path and hope it cools down quickly. Family businesses are SO intense and I’m sure the whole thing is a right mess internally. )

    • Riley says...

      I agree re: Harry and Meghan! My baby was born a few days after Archie, and I can’t imagine having gone through this tabloid circus etc postpartum. I think they’re less “forging their own path” and more trying to survive a pretty traumatic intrusion during a very sensitive time. I hope they find the peace they’re seeking.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      What a lovely philosophy :) thanks for sharing

    • Maggie says...

      I love that you give people permission to bouy others through your example! I have a similar outlook on life, I think, but I enact this through volunteering at my kid’s school, in my local neighborhood stuff and being a supportive player in lots of lives of the people I love. A rising tide raises all ships! I too often worry that I’m wasting my talents and creativity by not “having my own thing” but I wonder if that’s just good ‘ol American self-actualization that’s been bred into my thinking rather than valuing the contributions I make for what they are. You’ve given me lots to think about.

  63. Lauren Adelman says...

    Growing up, the only careers that were considered valid were healthcare, finance, or law. But all I knew and all I loved was music. Fast forward to college graduation and I had taken all the music business classes I could get my hands on and had completed 6 internships at record labels in secret. Despite family disapproval in the form screaming matches, threats of disowning me, and pleas asking why I insisted upon being poor, I stuck it out and made a career out of my passion for 8 years. Unfortunately I spent most of it longing for my parents’ approval. Last year, I burnt out, took the leap and reinvented myself, and traded record labels for tech and corporate America. I couldn’t wait to hear my parents’ excitement at a more financially stable job. When I finally told them I got the job, their excitement no longer mattered. My own approval of myself was all I needed. I am so proud that I followed my dream for years against the grain, and that I loved and respected myself enough to know when to say when. I’m still searching for a new dream, and for now, that’s ok.

  64. Dianna says...

    I haven’t had an opportunity to read exactly what they are doing. It’s great they want to do their own thing, but are they still getting “royal money” for being a prince and princess? It just doesn’t seem fair that they get all the benefits of being royalty without paying their dues. I’m definitely an Anglophile and can’t get enough of anything British. I think all the readers here sharing their stories are braver and deserve more applause for going out on their own following their hearts and dreams without the security of being royal to fall back on.

    • KC says...

      Without paying their dues? I don’t know, he lost his mother at a young age precisely because she was a royal, and that wasn’t exactly fair either.

    • diana says...

      They are working towards being financially independent according to their letter.

    • Ana D says...

      They aren’t. This data point is one google away, and would’ve been easier and faster than posting a comment on how one feels about a decision they didn’t make.

    • Mary says...

      ‘Paying their dues’…There is no price on freedom though is there? It sounds like a terrible life. I’m glad they’re wise and courageous enough to walk away.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      It’s a very complicated issue, they have said they will stop drawing from the “sovereign grant” which is money officially given to the royal family from the UK government, but they are still taking money from Prince Charles which comes from the Duchy of Cornwall estates mostly. They call this “private money” but this is income from investments that they inherit by virtue of being the royal family, eg mostly it’s income from land owned by the crown. Personally (as a UK citizen) I think that these land and assets should be turned over to public ownership and used for the good of the people. I think it’s nonsensical to refer to the royal family as having “private wealth”.
      Another large cost to the UK taxpayer that will continue: the royal family are given police protection and the cost of this is not disclosed or included in their published costs (as supposedly disclosing it is a security threat). This will continue regardless of their status, rightly so as anyone who’s a target should be protected.
      Money aside I think it’s wrong to still have a royal family in 2020. They retain a lot of political powers, even if the current monarch chooses not to exercise them there’s nothing stopping future monarchs. Harry (and Meghan’s) trajectory over his life also shows that it can be pretty shit to be part of the royal family too, I feel sorry for all of them and I think it should be abolished. I’d bet a lot of money that Harry agrees with me ;)

    • AE says...

      All of this “Anglophile”/ obsession with the British/ “the royals don’t have money— it should be turned over to the public” is all really silly and short sighted. Everyone keeps trying to romanticize an empire/ family that has literally destroyed countless nations and people. No, that money isn’t theirs. But it’s also not the British people’s money, either. This family and crown made all of its money off of slavery, imperialism, war, theft, etc. So pretending that a) wanting to walk away from it is gross, is ridiculous and b) being obsessed with them is disturbing and c) pretending to see this family for anything other than what it is— and making it the internet hill you die on is bonkers.

  65. Vanessa says...

    Reading this made me realise the giant leap I took 8 years ago without realising it (I was that miserable in my stable pharmacy job with 30 days leave and good salary, great 10 minute commute but was just so stagnant.)

    Moved to a different part of the country where the traffic was a rude shock (and even now I’m still not used to it), took up a research assistant position with a 70% pay cut working on with my then boyfriend, and stayed with his parents.

    Along the way we realised we were terrible as colleagues but we got married anyway, first couple of years was tough with finances, he left to do his Masters (after I pushed him to apply for the scholarship) and I stayed behind to finish my MA in English Lit which I always wanted to do, while freelancing, juggling locum pharmacy jobs and copyediting.

    He came back, we had a kid while not having any stable jobs of any kind, but it pushed us to look for financial independence. I went back to full time pharmacy (with lower pay, more hours and less benefits than if I stayed in my first job) but my approach to this job has been so different. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but also grounded enough not to expect my career to fulfill me, instead finding fulfillment in doing my best in being a good team player. I’ve realised that I thrive on appreciation, not ambition, and value good work life balance over a glamorous job description. So even if people say I’ve ended up where I started, the time away has given me self awareness, to be happier in the same circumstances. Even if I don’t utilise my MA in my current career, I now read and consume critically which makes me feel more in control (rather than lost and swayed by news reports etc). And I have my daughter, which is a very grounding factor.

    My marriage is fine too. He landed a great job too, so things are good financially now, but I love being financially independent too.

  66. Claudia says...

    I had a secure, fairly simple, job with middling pay but amazing perks in a city with a low cost of living. It bored me to tears. My student debt was being paid off tiny bit by tiny bit. I had settled into a rut that was sort of comfortable, but dull and frustrating, too. Then one day it hit me: I was leading the life of least resistance. And the minute I knew that, I knew everything had to change.

    It was not as simple as that realization made it seem. What followed was a solid decade of different jobs, different cities, unfulfilling quasi-relationships, etc.–but from then on, I was searching. I knew that I could do better by myself and I was determined to figure out how.

    It’s been 20 years now since I made the big leap. I have my dream job, which even on its worst days feeds more soul more than that old job ever did. (It feeds everything else better, too–this is the highest-earning work I’ve ever done.) I’m in a strong relationship with a wonderful man. My friendships are genuine and fulfilling. And sometimes I’m still not sure how I ever got this lucky. To be sure, some of it was luck. But some of it was refusing to lead the life of least resistance.

    • Christina says...

      I love this line “to be sure, some of it was luck. But some of it was refusing to lead the life of least resistance.” I made some tough decisions in early 2019 that I knew were the right thing in my heart, but often feel the need to justify ( including ending a ‘secure/fine’ but relationship that I felt stuck in while doing medical residency). Time since then has had its ups and downs, but I think I will adopt this as my mantra when I need to remind myself that I’m doing the right thing. thank you!

    • neha says...

      Your story sounds amazing and inspiring!!

      Someone very famous said: We are what we settle for, we are only what we settle for!

  67. Jenny says...

    Could you link to the article Joanna wrote about making her decision to leave law school? I would love to read it. I am only a few months away from leaving a tech career and find this article timely :)
    Thank you!

  68. Meg says...

    To date, I have been a every-10-years-burn-it-all-to-the-ground kind of person. Steady on for about a decade, then dump it all: jobs, relationships, beliefs, etc.

    • Jules says...

      I love you. Lol.

    • Whitney says...

      What Jules said.

  69. AJ says...

    I’m scrolling through these comments, feeling like I want to respond to almost all of them ha! But I LOVE this topic so much. It lights me up so much when people say feck it to ‘expectations’ and follow their own guts and hearts. It’s not even about the dream or the accomplishments, there’s just something so beautiful in the courage and realness of it.

    I find it so baffling that there are so many people who project their own fear of taking risks or making changes onto others. A: when was it anyone’s business what anyone else chooses to do? B: is there anything scarier than being trapped and unhappy?! But then I am a Sagittarius through and through :)

    Btw I’m pleased for Meg and Harry. But not really that bothered what they do. You guys are ace though, I could read these stories all day long

    • hali says...

      omg feck it is such a great idiom!

  70. MarlaD says...

    I wanted to be an architect as long as I can remember. This was before girls were “allowed” to take shop classes in high school and my parents fought to get me into drafting. I was accepted into a competitive, prestigious (and expensive) university’s school of architecture and was over the moon. Before the end of the first semester I knew I was a fish out of water and was pretty unhappy but kept plugging along. By the third semester I knew I’d never make it through but was sick over the time and money spent and didn’t want to give up the dream. Someone I respected said to me – there is no shame in walking away from a dream that’s no longer working for you. I looked for a major that the most of my units would apply to and made the change to Civil Engineering. I wasn’t quite sure what it was or what kind of jobs I could get but that was that. A ton of weight lifted from my shoulders immediately and I loved the classes and was good at them. No more fish out of water!! It took me an extra three semesters to graduate because my scholarship ran out and I had to take a light load to be able to pay out of pocket but it was worth it. I’ve had a wonderful career where most of the time it’s been more like fun than work. I suffered discrimination and harassment along the way at being a female in a traditionally male field but I’ve broken through some pretty big barriers too. When I look back I’m amazed at what I’ve done! If I had stuck it out and gotten my degree in Architecture I’m pretty sure I’d never have used it. Can’t stress it enough – there is no shame in giving up a dream that is no longer working for you…and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.

    • Jess says...

      applause emoji Marlad!

  71. I think sometimes I’m a little addicted to calculated recklessness. A year after we married, my husband and I dropped everything and moved across the country to Seattle with no jobs just because we wanted to. That first year was such an adventure. Since then, I left the company I spent six years climbing the ladder with to pursue a photography career, and now I’m itching to get reckless again. There’s nothing like willingly freefalling knowing that you’ll somehow become the net you fall into. You are CAPABLE.

    • Coralie says...

      “There’s nothing like willingly freefalling knowing that you’ll somehow become the net you fall into.”

      Wow. I love how you phrased this.

  72. Maggie says...

    I broke up with the most toxic, self-absorbed, narcissistic friend I’ve ever encountered after spending 18 months trying to figure out how to gently cut the cord! While she’s out there, hating me, spreading vitriol and trying to make my family’s life hell (including messing with my husband’s job and taunting me on the socials), I’ve only further been vindicated that standing in my own power sometimes means walking through fire. To a new life without horrible ppl in it!

    • Colleen S says...

      She sounds like my sister. Kudos to you for cutting out a toxic friend, and I hope your husband and family make it through without much difficulty.

    • Riley says...

      Oooh good for you! I’m so sorry to hear she’s retaliated, but nothing like that kind of behavior to reaffirm your decision.

  73. Micah says...

    Quitting grad school! I actually wrote Joanna to thank her for writing about her decision to leave law school– it helped give me the courage.

  74. Kristen says...

    “But as a friend said to me recently, “You need to be comfortable not only with people not supporting your decisions, but also not understanding them. No one needs to understand your choices, because they don’t have to live your life.”<—-What a wise friend!!!!

    That above statement is perfection. As my daughter nears school-age, we are realizing more and more that conventional schooling does not fit our family and we have been exploring our options (which will probably end up being some kind of homeschool/alternative school hybrid). And while I’ve known for awhile now that this feels right for our family, the comments and questions I’ve gotten from others already has caused some hesitation. I will remember your friend’s words moving forward!

    • Kiki says...

      I don’t know your circumstances, but I’d highly recommend checking out a Montessori school :-)

    • I’m a teacher and have a lot of faith in schools BUT they do not work for all families or all children and you are the mama of your child. In short, trust your instincts. I read the blog of a home-schooling mom that really speaks to me on so many levels. Maybe it will help you: https://www.gsheller.com/

      Good luck, Kristen!

  75. Andrea says...

    Long story condensed
    14 years of corporate sales -> husband, two kids, cul-de-sac house, mortgage, student loan debt -> husband and I realize we lived up to that point pleasing everyone but ourselves for most of our lives and went into debt to do it -> breaking point -> quit job, sold everything, moved to a trailer on a farm with no utilities.
    My husband works doing programming work from home and farms. I ditched my suit for overalls and metalsmithing. We live on the same land, but now in a small house and we have utilities again. It’s not fancy and it’s not easy, but we are where we are supposed to be.
    Sometimes you just have to strip it all away to find yourself again.

    • AJ says...

      This is so cool!

    • Lindsay says...

      Yes! Amazing! Thank you for sharing this. Your story speaks to me.

  76. Casey says...

    There is such deeply rooted racism in the British press and a royal institution built on imperialism – and yes even slavery. Megan made the decision to leave behind vitriol – and somehow this turns into self-congratulations for continuing to live on some family money by making a slight pivot in your career.

    • Becca Schu says...

      This!!! I’ve been feeling the same way about it.

    • AE says...

      Exactly. And not “yes, even slavery”- it’s MOSTLY slavery. MOST of that money was collected from slavery, and certainly that power. The people on this post who feel super smug about being Anglophiles or pro- throne are bizarre and the disconnect is amazing. Why are people so eager to have her swallow that history paired with the awful treatment (press and familial, I’m sure) all while being bought by money? It’s strange.

  77. Rosie says...

    I dropped out of my MBA program when my thesis was 3/4 finished. My summer fellowship was horrible and I quit on the 4th day and somehow fell into a job on Obama’s ’08 campaign 48 hours later. I loved it and decided to take a leave to stay on through November with the expectation that I would kill myself by taking classes, doing a fellowship and finishing my thesis spring semester. When we won I was offered a great government job and after the energy of a campaign and feeling like I had found my people in politics I could not reconcile going back to school just so I could make more money. My first year after the campaign I made 20k less than I did straight out of undergrad and it was a lifestyle adjustment but SO rewarding. I’ve had a much more interesting life than I would have if I had joined a big corporation and I have met the BEST people including my wife. My parents still bring it up as a big mistake, but I’ve never regretted it.

  78. SL says...

    Just seeing the title of this post overwhelmed me with feelings. Due to the business closing, I was recently let go from my job right before the holiday season. Though my head (and my bank account) tells me to just find a job, any job, my heart seems to be telling me not to get stuck in something I might regret.

    My background is in cabinetry, as well as in sales. But I just don’t think the world needs me to be making more *stuff* and it certainly doesn’t need me to be selling them more stuff either. I have this strong gut feeling that going forward, I need to find a way to be helpful. Be that in the realms of non-profit, policy – I don’t even know exactly what I mean by this or what options are out there! And I certainly don’t have the experience in that sector, nor can I take on any more student debt to get there. It’s all at once a freeing and terrifying situation. But this post helped me to feel far less alone, so thank you!

    • Laureen says...

      You will find the path that’s right for you, SL.

      A few years ago something similar happened to me and it gave me the space I needed to think about what I really wanted and make a big leap. Check out the book the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans–it has really helpful prompts and suggests ways for you to ‘explore your hypotheses’ about a pivot to something in the non-profit or policy sectors to make sure you really like the day-to-day before you commit.

    • LS says...

      I feel this so hard! I have a business that I’ve minimized because I’m starting to seek a place in which I can be of purpose in an intangible way, rather than tangible, even though my background is in making and selling stuff. It might mean a pivot or a hard left turn, but it feels like it might be worth it. (I also cannot take on loans/debt and have no experience to get there) You are so very not alone.

    • Danielle says...

      This post and this conversation are so important. I’m 38, I have been climbing the corporate ladder for 18 years and my salary allows me to make choices for my family like investing in a retirement plan, and paying down our small condo’s mortgage faster so we’re all good when my daughter is ready for university. I don’t love my job and I’d love to do something more creative, meaningful and frankly fun but i don’t feel called to anything specific. And maybe I want another kid. And stability, responsibility, savings… bla bla bla. End result? I feel stuck as hell and the stories about people saying feck it sounds like the most amazing dream. Bravo to all the brave ones and thank you for sharing your inspiring stories.

    • Roxana says...

      You all are brave and definitely not alone.

      SL, start volunteering and see where it takes you. I am mostly a stay-at-home mom (who home schools), but in order to keep my sanity (or to fully embrace it – not sure ;) I work part-time advocating for vulnerable children and women. I got the position after volunteering. If this path goes the way I think it might, I am hopeful that I’ll eventually pursue a master’s in social work. Never in a million years did I think I’d want to be a social worker, but there you have it!

      With your skills maybe Habitat for Humanity would be a place to start?

      And Danielle, sometimes being brave means doing the thing that might not feel exciting, but is nonetheless worthwhile. I’ve never climbed a mountain, but I’d imagine that a lot of the steps up aren’t that exciting. You might not love your job, but you love your family and you’re giving of yourself for them. There is no shame in that! That takes courage. It takes courage and strength to stay the course. Hang in there!

  79. jules says...

    I love reading these comments – I’d love to read more about how you guys KNEW which way you should be going. As a person who has always bounced around jobs and industries (degree in Biology, work experience in family farms/business) I have always longed to figure my place or even close to my place in the working world. I am a few weeks away from leaving my corporate retail job and starting a position as a substitute teacher to see if I’d like to go to school to be a full time Bio teacher. And if I hate it I’ll be on to the next idea! It’s nice to see I’m not the only person that isn’t settled in a role.

    • Grace says...

      I hear you. I see you.
      -signed someone also longing to figure our their place in the working world

    • A.B. says...

      You’ll find your place! I know you will. It’s ok if it’s not just one place too. Proud of you for taking the leap. <3

    • SFAAB says...

      SAME

  80. am says...

    “Joanna left law school after only one year (with $54K in student loans) to get an entry-level job for a small editorial firm. “People thought it was misguided, but I felt like I had to do it,” she says.”

    This is terrifying and amazing and I just love this so much. I actually want to do the opposite, leave a good, salaried job to go to law school. I actually spoke to an Admissions counselor today. Life is just terrifying and amazing huh.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you should do it, am! trust your instincts!

  81. Emma says...

    Love reading all these comments and it makes me think twice about my own followed-to-a-T life plan. Been doing so much reflecting on the past decade now that a new one has arrived and while I’m thrilled to have fulfilled the exact plan 18-year-old-me envisioned for myself at 28, I’m a little bummed at the lack of spontaneity or surprises. Isn’t life supposed to twist and turn? Perhaps I’m holding onto the wheel too tightly…

    Anyway, feeling inspired to loosen the reigns in 2020 and beyond, leaving room for life’s (hopefully) happy surprises to sneak in.

    • KC says...

      I’m… a bit freewheeling. That said: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

      I guess: most people here are talking about a Massive Change they made when they realized that they were really at all where they wanted to be or needed to be. It’s actually just fine to stay put, if you *are* where you ought to be. We don’t get extra points for putting ourselves through extraneous anguish.

      But absolutely make space for surprises!

      (But lots of other people have found their thing by leaving a different track; if you’ve found your thing a bit earlier and less painfully and without fear/debt/family-disappointment/etc., that is not a bad thing! And it’s good to have diversity in narrative; not all love is at-first-sight, not all careers are what you picked out at age 12… but also, not all love starts with Pride & Prejudice-style loathing, and not all “this is the one” careers are Grandma Moses-style.)

    • Tess says...

      Emma-
      I’m with you- I’ve followed a pretty linear and straightforward track to where I am. That said, I don’t feel “stuck” or “stagnant” or “itchy” or any of the feelings described by other people on this post. Sometimes I think we romanticize Big Exciting Changes in our culture, but I think changing your life for the sake of change just because you’re worried you don’t have enough spontaneity or twists and turns is a good way to end up making erratic choices you’ll regret.
      In short- as KC said- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you examine your soul and feel fulfilled in your life, who is anyone else to make you feel like your life isn’t exciting enough?

  82. Started dating a coworker, two weeks after ending a six YEAR relationship! EEP. Luckily, he is my husband now. After our first (could have been a rebound ) make out session, I knew in my core he was my person.

    But, try explaining that one to your friends & family! :)

    • Mara says...

      Woohoo! Similar story here! Hooked up with a friend two weeks after ending a seven-year relationship. I’ll never forget my mom whispering to me, “Is this a rebound?” after finding out we were dating. Twelve years later, we’re happily married!

    • Caitlin Conway says...

      I have an almost identical story. Eight weeks after ending a five year relationship (which involved moving out of our rental), I made out with my coworker on a dance floor surrounded by all of our other coworkers. I knew full well that it would either be the best or dumbest decision I’d ever made. It’s almost six years later and we’re married with a house, two dogs and a baby boy. Life, man.

    • Daniela says...

      Similar story here too! Nine year relationship ended because I developed feelings for a coworker who I started dating four weeks later. Three months later we moved in, eighteen months later we got engaged, and a little over two years later we got married. And I am so happy!

    • Longdenlife says...

      Me too! Ended a three year relationship and starting seeing someone else a few weeks later who was the complete opposite of my ex – 25 years later we are still together (married for 21!)

  83. Sara says...

    My husband and I, newly married, we’re ready for an adventure (not to ‘settle down,’ which seemed to be expected of us). After saving money for one year, we decided to quit our secure jobs, leave our apartment and travel the world for 10 months. More people were skeptical of us than excited for us. But as soon as we left the U.S. we realized how common this type of adventure is for others around the world. Our trip was incredible and life changing. Now we are settled with two kids, two jobs, and a home. A life we love, but I am forever grateful that we took the risk to take that great adventure!

    • Christine says...

      6 years ago, I packed up my life in NYC and moved into a 55+ community near Ft Lauderdale. I was burnt out, tired and not great financially. I figured out a job when I got down there. Best decision of my life. I had to hit the reset button and kept the stuff that brought me joy, while ditching the rest.
      I met my husband, paid off my debt and got to live a life I had only imagined. Yes, I have peers ahead of me in some areas but I’m working on it.

  84. This post (and all of the encouraging comments) couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Just this week, I put in my notice at my office job (I work for a university with a stable salary, great benefits, vacation time, etc.) to pursue a freelance writing career. I’ve felt bored and burnt out for a long time, and I finally feel like I’m listening to my gut and doing what’s right for me. It’s scary to go against the norm, but I’m so excited for all of the possibilities that lie ahead!

    • Jenna says...

      Amazing Laura! This is so brave!

    • Isabelle says...

      I feel the same way! I currently work at a university, and feel burnt out. I really don’t know what my next step is but I want out.

  85. Emma says...

    I haven’t taken any huge leaps yet but I’m inspired by all of these stories! One day I hope to be able to do a triathlon! I can barely swim and figuring out the logistics makes me quiver which I think is a good indication that I need to do it!! Right now my big leap is an upcoming camping trip with my three year old and 7 month old! :)

  86. Asia says...

    This is a path forged as a couple, not by me individually, but… 11 years ago my husband and I decided that we would leave where we had moved for his job and head back home! We lost our entire down payment on the house we’d bought, and he took both a pay cut and a demotion, but we knew that we really wanted to live and raise our kids closer to our families. I’ve no doubt it was the right decision, but a lot of people thought we were nuts.

  87. celeste says...

    They will find their path…rooting for them.

    I lost my mom at 18. Not only did I go through college without familial guidance, I continue to hear stories of people at 26 who take their laundry home to mom, or at 36, can go to Cancun with their husband while their mom watches their kids. Nobody will ever step in for me.

    • Laura says...

      So sorry for your loss. I’m rooting for YOU.

  88. Robin says...

    I quit my job on Monday, the first day back to work in the new year. I don’t have anything lined up, and it feels great. I have an $800 WestJet credit and no plans at all, so I’m trying to think of where to go. Can’t be anywhere with Zika, and it’s the dead of winter in the north, so I’m thinking New Orleans to listen to music and eat food, or Japan for snowboarding and eating food. I read the royal’s news on CBC this morning and found it super relatable and hope they spend lots of time chilling out in Canada!

    • Lara says...

      Congratulations!

      Do you (or anyone else) feel like there’s a lot of quitting/freedom energy happening in the beginning of 2020? I just cut my work load back significantly after 6 months of planning. One of my friends woke up on New Year’s Day and quit her job for a 6+ month sabbatical after 2 years of daydreaming about it. The royals. I don’t know what’s going on but I like it!

    • jane says...

      Japan is amazing – go there before the Olympics transforms it! I lived in Tokyo for a year and visited the countryside and mt fuji and it was all amazingly great! Pair with a knowledgeable local if possible but it’s also easy enough with the right apps.

  89. Mara says...

    I am something of a success in my family — I am the only one among siblings and cousins who has not only a steady 9-5 salaried job, but can afford pretty much anything I want. However, I work in a very toxic environment, dislike my field of work, and have ranged from grumpy on a good day to bitterly angry and depressed on a bad day…for five years now. I want to quit this job to restore my mental health (I’ve been applying to other jobs for years with no luck — I work in a very competitive market). Quitting with no prospects might lead to years of unemployment for all I know, and I’ve gotten really comfy with my high paycheck. Gotta love those golden handcuffs. So, I’m in the process of figuring out how I can forge my own path. Maybe this will be my year.

    • AJ says...

      Absolutely! Do what’s right and healthy for you, success will follow!

    • Andrea says...

      At a Christmas party last month, I sat next to a woman who retired from corporate law this year. I asked her what she liked about corporate law and she said, ‘Nothing!”

      Don’t be that lady. Life is too short.

    • Meigs says...

      Mara!! How similar a situation we have, I have been working at the same Wall Street firm for 2.5 years after working there for all 3 summers in college – and yet I am miserable! Such a toxic environment with no passion for my field. I applied for jobs for 10 whole months and have an entire inbox of “nos” from a million different places. I have felt so low at all of the rejections but YET! Yesterday I received an offer at a completely new job, making more than I do now, in a work environment that is young and hungry and a boss who is so invested in his team. I really hated when people told me everything would work out but here I am, 10 months later, nervous and excited. To bet on myself, to take a new job in a new field, to quit a firm that is so widely respected, how scary – but then again, how wonderful ;)

      your time will come, you just have to believe it for yourself – 2020 here we come

    • Mara says...

      Meigs, congratulations!! Your story gives me hope… I too am sick of hearing “it’ll all work out” because it hasn’t for so long. I suppose I just have to keep applying. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  90. Sally says...

    My moment came in July 2017.
    I’d lost my dad the previous September, after a rocky road with him, which had started 6 months previously, when he’d had a nervous breakdown.
    At the time, I was working as a class teacher in a small, rural primary school, and things were getting increasingly stressful…

    My mental health was deteriorating rapidly, and I said enough was enough. Twice, in the past 10 years, I’d struggled with borderline anorexia, as a direct response to workplace stress, and I just decided to stop injuring myself, when this clearly wasn’t the right job for me. So I quit.

    18 months on, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I work as a private tutor and substitute/supply teacher, and love it. People thought I was bonkers, but honestly it’s the best thing I’ve ever done BECAUSE IT WAS RIGHT FOR ME. And it was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.

    I think eventually, you just get to such a low point, that you just think, “hell, keep your damn job. I’m gonna value my happiness and mental health more.” Life really is incredibly short, and you deserve to be happy. I don’t regret it for a single tiny moment.

    • AJ says...

      This is ace, Sally! You are so right, health and happiness comes first.

    • Yes, yes and yes!!

  91. BB says...

    Oh my gosh, watching Megxit unfurl is like watching the Crown real time. I can’t help but think about how the queen had to navigate all the drama with her sister, and her uncle who abdicated. Now with her son in the Epstein horror show and this… she has seen it all in her years.

    For me, it was marrying my husband when i was 27, saving as much money as we could ($20k), quitting our jobs in NYC and moving to Damascus to learn Arabic. Our families thought we were insane but eventually came around and we had lots of adventures with each other and friends who visited. Our money ran out right as the financial crisis of 07/08 was happening, and we had NO idea how we would get jobs and figure things out. An old friend from high school reached out to my husband about a job in this foreign place (to us East Coasters) Silicon Valley – and when we accepted the job little did we know it would bring us (and our baby) back to the Middle East two years later, where we lived for 5 more years and had our next two children.

  92. Alex Perri says...

    I left a job in corporate copywriting to work for a small town newspaper as a reporter. It’s still early, and I make next to nothing, but I HATE corporate culture and never want to return. Hopefully, the change will pay off!

  93. Becca4Eva says...

    This is THE BEST COMMENT EVER.

  94. Jessica O'Malley says...

    I’d been living in New York for 7 years and felt ready for a change. One day at work, an email from our department head came through: “We’re looking for someone to do a job swap with someone in LA and move there immediately.” I was the only volunteer and here I am in LA 10 years later, with a husband I met immediately upon moving, a 4-year-old son and two different jobs later. It was the best impulse decision I ever made…

    • Louise says...

      Contemplating an LA move after 7 years in NYC and want to hear more!!!

    • callie says...

      Me too, Louise!! CC Jessica! :)

  95. Jennie says...

    Many well wishes to Harry and Megan, and to all those who’ve taken a leap of faith!

    Can I just say, is it not strange that the media has sensationalized and scandalized this retreat from the limelight on a much larger scale than over Prince Andrew “stepping back” from his duties due to being an *actual sex offender*?
    …The mind boggles.

    • Christabel says...

      I don’t know. Where I am from it Prince Andrew’s retirement is still a pretty big deal that is regually discussed.

    • Sonja says...

      Yes, Jennie, yes. Let those two go raise their family in peace! There are bigger, yuckier fish to fry.

  96. Julia says...

    Quit my job this year to move to Colombia! Can definitely relate to this post, love it!

  97. Marie says...

    I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments, but I’d like to contribute a story that doesn’t have a happy ending — because forging my own path was STILL the right decision. In my mid 20s, I was working at a job that had been great, but in which I’d grown bored. A bunch of my friends were applying to law school, and I was considering it but on the fence. One of these close friends was moving away to attend school, and as the time grew closer, our friendship turned into a romance. He asked me to move with him, and, thrilled, I not only moved with him to another state, I moved IN with him into a little studio apartment. My parents were totally against the entire situation, told my boyfriend that he was no long welcome at their home, and almost entirely cut off communication with me.

    Within a half a year of moving in together, I knew I had made a mistake. My boyfriend, who had been such a good friend, was insecure and jealous and controlling. It took me months to find a job and I ate through all of my savings. But I couldn’t swallow my pride and reach out to my parents to save me.

    So, I had to create my own way out of the bed I’d made. It took two years — two very miserable years — but I forged a strength and independence in those two years that have carried me through the rest of my life. I got in to law school, left the terrible relationship, clawed my way out of debt, and healed the relationship with my parents. (So I guess there is a happy ending after all….LOL)

    • Michelle says...

      Thanks so much for sharing this Marie! This was such an atypical reply. I’m going to sound like a hater but I’m glad it didn’t end with you finding the love of your life. I guess I’m just tired of reading that particular ending as far as forging your own path goes. I’m glad the rift between you and your parents is healed and that you are in law school. Best of luck to you!

    • AJ says...

      I’m with Michelle on this! You DID forge your own path Marie, with a ton of bravery along the way – and lots of adventure and success to come! Wish you all the best ✨

  98. EmilyR says...

    I got seriously ill during the last two years of grad school, right after getting married. When I graduated and received multiple job offers in academe, it shocked my advisors. When I turned these offers down to move across the country with my husband and take a different type of job, the head of our department said, “In seven years, when you’re divorced, you’ll regret this choice.” Ahem. Twenty-five years later, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of them. My life’s been so much more than I ever hoped for, and it’s all due to listening to that quiet voice in my gut.

    • Annie says...

      As someone finishing their PhD this year and disappointing my adviser by not accepting faculty offers, I really appreciate your post. It’s been hard to not listen to everyone else’s expectations, but I’ve decided that the academia/the tenure track is not an environment that makes me happy. I’m really glad to see that you stayed true to yourself.

  99. Rebecca Bunch says...

    I left my partnership at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan and moved to West Covina, California, to find my long-lost boyfriend named Josh! ;)

    • Nancy says...

      One of my favorite shows ever!

    • Kristen says...

      Rebecca, don’t leave us hanging like this. We need more details!

    • Jessica says...

      @Kristen, it’s the plot to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” an awesome musical show. :)

    • AJ says...

      🤣

    • Josh says...

      “uhhh…. Rebecca?”

  100. Annie says...

    Moving to a new city for my partner and buying a house together early on in our relationship! Some people thought we were nuts but we knew it was the right thing to do! It has definitely taken some time for me to let go of that judgment though.

  101. Anna says...

    My family forged our own path when we moved from a comfortable life in Chicago to an exciting but unknown life in New Zealand. But this post actually reminds me most of my single girlfriends who are continually forging their own path in very cool places around the world, in unexpected ways due to life turning out differently to how they expected. Which made me think – as a sequel to Motherhood around the world, I’d LOvE to read a “self/-partnered around the world” series hearing about life as a single person in different countries. My fab friend lives in Holland and I love hearing about how she went about deciding to move, buying an apartment, and adjusting to a new culture solo (plus the dating scenes are often different in really interesting ways). Please consider!

    • denisem says...

      What a great idea! I second this request.

    • kayla koep says...

      OOOH! Yes. I second this request. As a single/self-partnered woman, I’d love this series!

    • Kara says...

      Such a good idea!

    • Ashley says...

      I AM SO FOR THIS!!

      As much as I love the Motherhood Around the World series, I can’t relate. I’d love to see the same care & beauty brought to that series also focused on celebrating women who are just doing life Around The World!

    • Emily says...

      What a cool idea, love this!

    • Britt says...

      I third this request!

    • CAnn says...

      Great idea! Would love reading this type of series.

    • Belen says...

      Yes, please!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this idea! thank you!

    • jane says...

      Oh me too! I’d love to hear these stories!

    • Ki says...

      Yes, please to this!

    • Ruth says...

      Yes please!

    • Sophie says...

      I cannot wait to read this series!!!

    • Cecile says...

      Yes!!!

    • Eunice says...

      this would be a great series and I have a very good friend who just did that, moved from Singapore to Jakarta to Paris all on her own!! It would be amazing to feature her story here :)

    • Wj says...

      I would love to read this series!

  102. Angie says...

    I was working at a foundation doing grant management and I knew this wasn’t what I was meant to do. So I put in my two weeks with no plan in mind. I came back home, and spent time figuring out what made me tick and what I wanted for my life ten years down the road. Three months after quitting my job I went back to school for the third time to become a nurse. I had student loans from my masters degree to pay back but I knew I wanted something different. It paid off. I’ve been a nurse for three years now, I worked hard and made sacrifices and now I’m debt free minus our mortgage. Couldn’t be happier. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

    • Izzy H says...

      I love your comment! I just resigned from a corporate job to work towards becoming a nurse. I’m taking this year to knock out my prereq’s and get entry level experience at a hospital before hopefully going back to get my BSN next year. This is a huge change for me and has been really scary, especially the past few weeks. But I feel confident that nursing is the path for me. I’m so glad to hear that it worked for you!

  103. Daniela says...

    I enjoy moving and living in new places, and was ecstatic when the scratch hit again and my then boyfriend now husband was down to move out of his home state. We moved to a new city in a new state with no jobs or living lined up and I’m so happy we made this choice to carve out a new life for ourselves. It was scary but exciting and yes, we found jobs and a great place to live. We’re already looking at what state is next up!

  104. rose says...

    In the 5th grade I had two options: be a hot girl and yes this can come up in 5th grade – or be a cool girl. I decided I wanted to be **warm**, not as in mediocre but as in: loving and kind. I think it’s worked pretty well – I’ve never been either cool, or hot, lol, but would like to think I’ve succeeded in sharing as much warmth and kindness as possible.

    • Wink says...

      Rose, I love this so much. I, too, never wanted to be cool nor hot. Warm girls, unite!!

    • jdp says...

      how original to not only steer this topic into elementary school, but to acknowledge that kids that young can make life choices, too. and good ones!!! such a good reminder.

    • Jess says...

      I don’t know why but this beautiful comment made me tear up. I love this so much.

    • Elizabeth says...

      You were so smart, Rose!
      I made the decision to be both the cool and hot girl.
      I left “uncool” friends behind and though it was exciting but stressful while it lasted – for many, many years, it totally warped my outlook as how to be. Fast forward to present day, even though I value kindness so much and teach my toddler daughter to be kind and happy and respect herself and others etc. , there is always this train of thought to look my best (and feeling utterly miserable if I don’t or can’t keep up) I put a lot of energy into appearances and materialistic things, so much so that I completely miss the big picture, being present and lose myself to the point of burning myself out.

  105. Caitlin says...

    Right after I started dating my boyfriend (LIKE RIGHT AFTER) he got a job in another state and I decided to go with him. Everyone, myself included at times, thought we were a little crazy. But I remember thinking if it doesn’t work out I can just move again! Ten wonderful years and one child later it is a decision I am so incredibly thankful I didn’t talk myself out of because it was going to raise some eyebrows.

  106. A couple years ago I left my very comfortable government job (benefits, great salary, pension, etc.) to focus on my wedding planning business.

    People thought I was a little nuts, but I have never been happier! My heart bursts a bit just writing that :)

    To anyone thinking of making a leap – I certainly don’t encourage you to take it lightly, but it could be the best thing you ever do!

    xoxo

  107. Taylor says...

    It’s about to start for me–I’m pregnant with my first kiddo, my husband and I are so excited but it means we have to move. We knew we’d have to (we can’t stay in DC, we can’t afford childcare here and if we’re going to move out to the suburbs we figure it makes sense to move out to CA where my entire family is, plus free childcare from my mom who is dying for us to head out there)–I’m just terrified of leaving DC. I love it here, it’s been my home from 17-28, it’s a wonderful place to be become and be an adult. And yet, none of my friends here want to have kids (which I completely support!) but it’s lonely already being the only pregnant person I know, so far away from family.

    I’m lucky that I can move anywhere with my job (law school was the right move for me, odd to say that being a lawyer has made it easier to be a mom, but I have a flexible schedule and a job security which is all you can really hope for from employment) but my husband can’t–so he has to figure out a new job in a new state while becoming a new parent.

    BUT we both have always wanted to be parents, more than anything else, we’ve wanted kids, and so doing what we think will set them up for the best life is really all the motivation we need, even when it’s scary or uncertain. We’re moving back to the area where I grew up and had a great childhood, but it’s never seemed like a fun place to be an adult. I hope it’s the right decision, but I keep saying “if it sucks we’ll move back!”

  108. KP says...

    I love that you’re raising this news item in a really sweet, empathetic way! I personally love the royals but I understand people’s feelings about their outdated roles and lives of luxury. But, to think about their dilemma from a personal perspective, how they’ve obviously suffered in the past year and what courage it would take for them to make this decision, I cannot help but applaud them and cheer them on. We can all struggle with toxic families and poor boundaries, they just unfortunately have to do it in the spotlight.

  109. Jill T.M. says...

    After moving to Germany, I was shocked at how difficult it was to assimilate in my new little town. I thought that “going my own way” would be so rewarding- and it was, but only after years of hard work. Now five years in, I can’t imagine it any other way.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so interesting! i love that it all worked out in the end.

  110. MA says...

    Such a great topic.
    A few months ago, my family and I welcomed a 15-year-old boy from Angola into our home. He arrived in the US by himself and has no contact with his family and no resources. Our neighbor is his immigration advocate and linked us together. We had to shift our two tween/teen kids into one room to free up a bedroom in our house, learn about being a guardian to a teenager, and try to communicate in English and french at times! Its been challenging and rewarding. But the responses we’ve received…you can imagine they cover the full spectrum from super supportive to “you are crazy to house an undocumented kid! with diseases!” (to be clear: he is documented and in good health). Maybe we are crazy. But it definitely feels like we are forging our path as a family, which is a great feeling, and this path is working out so far.

    • Bailey says...

      what a wonderful family. i’m grateful for your path.

    • Mamabird says...

      What a brilliant thing to do! Well done you.

    • Roxana says...

      This is fantastic! God bless you!!!

  111. AL says...

    I think forging your own path or a leap of faith can not only be one momentous moment, but even little moments, or decisions in different seasons of your life.
    In the past decade, I can think of 3 for me- and each one could not have predicted the next!
    1) Applying, then being accepted to grad school on Oahu. It was a big move!
    2) Staying there after I graduated without a specific career path in mind. I was in love with island life!
    3) deciding to move back to the mainland, in order to pursue a more financially stable life (with my Hawaiian fiancé (now husband!))

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love these!

    • AL says...

      Thinking about this, it reminds me that… Nothing is permanent! :-)

  112. Mikayla says...

    My last semester in college I hit a massive brick wall in my mental health, which led to what seemed to be a complete reversal of personality. I stopped going to church and all other religious events; I quit my part-time job; and I was about one meltdown away from quitting college altogether with a perfect GPA. It was pretty hard, but the time away from everything familiar made me truly examine who I was, and I realized that I was only participating in religion because that’s how I grew up. I was always terrified that if I stopped, I would be completely rejected by all my family and friends. Now that I couldn’t go, I realized that I had catastrophized–it was hard to explain my decision to some people (i.e., my parents), but I never lost a single relationship over it. And when I graduated (I made it!) I introduced everyone to my non-religious boyfriend who I am marrying later this year. I never would have dated him if I hadn’t been at such a junction with my beliefs and been willing to admit I was wrong on many counts. Some of my family and closest friends still don’t understand my decision, but I feel so free from my previous self-judgement and anxiety. It is so worth going through a bit of criticism and difficulty if it means finally living authentically and honestly with yourself.

    • Jamie says...

      Mikayla, Good for you! This was me a decade ago! Although now, I don’t have any of the same friends because my life philosophy is so different than that of my former community. For me, each year became easier and more liberating, and each year I feel more like ‘myself’ than what everyone wanted me to be. More power to you. (Also, if you’re interested, there are a lot of support groups you can find online that help people transition out of religion- those who struggle with a type of religious PTSD if it was traumatic for you).

  113. I says...

    I was always college-track, and didn’t mind it at all. After all, I graduated from the top medical school! BUT, I realized that I would not be happy working the usual crazy hours, and visualized myself spending majority of my time with my husband (also an MD) and kids.
    When I told my parents and (MD) friends that I wanted to stay in my med school as a teacher, in a field of public health and social medicine (which is frowned upon among the students and doctors, as it doesn’t sound “medical” enough), they were angry and confused. ALL those years, great grades and now no practicing?!

    But I was convinced and still am that this is my path. So it paid off! I got my dream job, and am going to split my time between practicing and teaching. It makes me very happy. :)

    Also, I got married young (25!) and got pregnant right away, and now I am a mom to a beautiful baby girl. People said we were crazy for having kids that early in life, but we knew that our lives were about to get busier and busier and we would always find reasons to not have kids in that particular moment, so we went for it and now know that we made the right decision. We want to build our careers around our family, not the other way around.

  114. Bex says...

    I married my boyfriend (of 2 years) 2 months after he proposed and less than a year later we moved 1,000 miles away with no work lined up. My parents still think we’re crazy, but it was absolutely necessary for us to “start again” without the umbrella of our families- even though they’re entirely wonderful. Five years later and it’s still in the top 5 best decisions of my life.

  115. Tracy says...

    I first did it in college. I decided to switch from studying to be a pediatrician to getting a Masters in Education and becoming a teacher, which my dad was not happy about. (He was convinced I’d be poor, which was what mattered most to him.) I did it again many years later when my husband and I decided that it was in our autistic daughter’s best interest to homeschool her beginning in middle school. It wasn’t long before we went the Unschooling route and have been basically forging our own path daily since then. All of these decisions were the best ones I’ve ever made for myself and my family. We’ve never been happier or lived more meaningful lives.

  116. Nectar says...

    I always wanted to go to law school when I was a little girl. By the time I was a junior in high school and start applying to colleges, I also applied to go to art school with a major in Cinematography. For me, it was why not? I was artistic and loved films as a girl too. I got accepted to one of the top law schools in Chicago, and also that liberal arts college as well.

    I made the plunge and went to art school and boy oh boy my family was furious. However, I stood my ground and never looked back.

  117. After I had my daughter I realized I couldn’t go back to working in the School system anymore. I started my own blog despite our lack of financial stability at the time, our new house and my husband going back to school at 30! But it worked out, I set boundaries for myself financially and managed to succeed in blogging a year and making a little bit of income!!

  118. Heather D says...

    I love reading everyone’s stories.

    I’m kind of the opposite right now. I’m nearing 40, craving change but feel very, very stuck.

    • Shauna P says...

      Hear ya. Turning 42 next week. And being stuck is everything right now.

    • Emily R says...

      Not that I want anyone to be stuck, but it’s nice to be in good company. Turned 40 in August and also feel very very stuck where I am.

    • Cindy W says...

      I am 51 but feel EXACTLY THE SAME CRAVINGS. I can’t shake the feeling that I need to go and change my life; to live more simply; to do what makes my soul shine. Because I certainly am not doing that now. I’m basically working at my current job for health insurance. Many other jobs I’m interested in don’t offer health insurance and, well, it’s kind of needed. I feel stuck every.single.day. I feel if this is what I have to look forward to in the upcoming years, then I will have to resign myself to being extremely unhappy.

    • cate says...

      Heather – Right here with you. But I believe in us. We can do it.

    • Carla says...

      Same. I just turned 41 and am having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Very, very stuck.

    • Anna says...

      How about a post about “feeling stuck” and ways to overcome it from a variety of women of different ages, with or without children?

  119. Elizabeth says...

    I’m 60. When I turned 58 I started getting a Master’s degree in history (my second Master’s). It won’t help me with work (except that I feel smarter than I did a couple of years ago), my agency isn’t paying for it, when school is in session I have absolutely no free time, and I’m an oddity to the professors and my fellow grad students. My husband and a few friends are supportive, but everyone else says “Is this really worth it?” “You have to use vacation time for reading and writing? That sucks!” and “You could just read the books yourself.” I can’t explain to myself why I’m doing this but I am so grateful for this experience. To feel your mind expand is so exhilarating. To watch the perspectives of both younger and older students shift before your eyes is life-affirming. To bang out the right sentence, read a passage that brings the past to life in a way you never imagined, to pick up a letter written a hundred years ago from a source you’ve been researching is absolutely glorious.

    Sometimes you really have to have faith that your inner voice will steer you toward the right path, or at least a path you like, even if you don’t know why you hear that voice.

    • Leanne says...

      I love this so much, Elizabeth. It’s always the right time to expand our perspective of the world. I wish you continued joy in your studies.

    • ashley says...

      every single word you have written is invigorating, beautiful and inspiring. when your friends ask, “is it worth it?” answer with your words: “To feel your mind expand is so exhilarating. To watch the perspectives of both younger and older students shift before your eyes is life-affirming. To bang out the right sentence, read a passage that brings the past to life in a way you never imagined, to pick up a letter written a hundred years ago from a source you’ve been researching is absolutely glorious.” so proud of you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      elizabeth, you’re amazing! really inspired by your comment. xo

    • Rosemarie Buchanan says...

      Thank you for this, Elizabeth! Something I needed to hear!

    • Dawn says...

      Hi Elizabeth, Thank you! I went back to school just after I turned 50. Full time undergrad studying Public Health. Like you, my immediate family was supportive but extended family all that I was bonkers. I’m now working for a University involved in helping people who are food insecure and pushing policies to help protect and support those vulnerable communities. Going to school has been *so* energizing. I’m now 58 and my peers are, often, unhappy professionally and, many, are simply thinking towards retirement. I feel like I’ve just gotten started.

    • I believe in life-long learning. It’s so important to keep our brains working and our perspectives flexible! Thank you for being an inspiration at 60, I’m trying to stay relevant at 65.

  120. Roxana says...

    I ditched law school, too, but not after attending for a year (that takes guts, Joanna! Brava! I’d say you definitely made the right decision ;). I’d gotten in (after DYING to go), but then I had a full blown panic attack while writing the deposit check. I decided to defer my enrollment thinking I’d go the following fall. During that time I was given the self-awareness I desperately needed. A year later with total peace in my heart and mind I decided not to go. My parents and family were very supportive, but initially they were like “Wait, are you sure?? You’ve been talking about this for years!”

    I do still struggle with insecurity about it (“would I have been smart enough?”) but I also know that it was absolutely the right decision for me.

    As an aside, I feel so badly for Megan and Harry (and the other royals). How difficult to have seemingly every part of your life mercilessly scrutinized. I can only imagine what they deal with publicly and privately. I wish all the best for them!

  121. Illana says...

    When I decided to divorce. It was so scary for so many reasons and took 3 years to finalize, but I realized that if I mean it when I tell my kids to always be true to themselves, then I have to do it first. It has certainly felt like forging a path because I think even in modern culture, being married still reigns as one of the biggest “boxes to check off” in life. To the masses, it is a foreign concept to think that one can be leading a happy, joyous, meaningful, deeply-lived life while not married. My closest friends get it, but so many people think they need to comfort me with, “you’re young, you’ll still find the right person,” and I’m like, “maybe I’ll be interested in that some day, but right now, no thanks!” For me, it was necessary, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

  122. Anne says...

    I got a dog! Ha, I know it doesn’t seem like much, but my family is pretty old school when it comes to indoor pets (animals are supposed to stay outside). They were also young parents, so they’ve always had the responsibility of keeping something alive and aren’t sure why anyone would purposely put themselves in that position, especially if it’s not for an actual child.

    Welp, I was grown. Single, with a house and fully supporting myself, but it still took the support for my shrink to just get a dog. Mom called me stupid and every other name in the book. It was right before Thanksgiving of that year, so I had set the ultimatum of I’m not coming unless the dog comes. It was tense at first, but pups won everyone over, and it didn’t take long before she became a very proud grand-dog mom.

    • jane says...

      You – AND your dog – deserve major credit for attending a Thanksgiving with people who call you “stupid and every other name”. Parents or not, that is really abusive behavior. I would have said “no thank you” and stayed home for my own celebration. But, you won them over so good for you?

  123. Katie says...

    YES! Thank you, the sexism embedded in “Megxit” has annoyed me to no end.

    • Nora says...

      Yep.

    • jane says...

      But you do realize, don’t you, that it’s calculated to do just that – so, you gotta laugh because it’s funny.

    • Alison says...

      I agree! Someone suggested Sussexit because they both made the decision and I think that works much better.

  124. Calla says...

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately! I am 27 and in the second year of a PhD program in bioinformatics. I worked a few different jobs after college, ostensibly to decide what to do, but always knew I was going to do a PhD because that’s what my mentors and peers expected. Now that I am in it, it is feeling less and less like what I want to do each day but I haven’t been able to figure out what I’d want to do instead

    • Natasha says...

      Calla, I left my molecular bio PhD program after 2 years back–and am so glad I did! I was scared to drop the academic research track I’d always I expected I’d follow, but I was just feeling so uninspired. I was surprised at how many non-research, non-academic jobs there are out there where even an MS can put you head & shoulders above the competition. I landed in science education and love it. Many people push through a low in their PhD program and are glad they did, but I’d encourage you to take a serious look around if you want to get out.

    • Mari says...

      I’m in a similar boat in Cell Biology! I’d love to hear more about the kind of work you do, Natasha, and what other kinds of jobs you considered!

  125. The irony of agreeing with someone who declares themselves as “Royals”, and then pouring money out of your own pocket so they look and act the part!!! Let’s try to forge awareness before we create a path, shall we?
    Every path has it’s virtue and vice. Follow convention if it serves the greater cause. Don’t conform to it if it doesn’t. But, by all means, don’t be a rebel without the right cause.

  126. Julie says...

    Mine was when I cut my extremely toxic father out of my life nine years ago at the age of 31. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and has led to bouts of depression, but prioritizing myself, my state of mind, and my boundaries made me grow as a person.

  127. Marie says...

    What a great, thoughtful way to frame this discussion and encourage empathy.

  128. Jessica says...

    Life feels like an endless maze and continual forging of one’s own path, in both hard and delightful ways. What was once us yesterday, may not be us today. From small decisions: like how as an adult, I’ve finally succumbed to the fact that I hate red onions and will now and forever forge ahead with red-onion-less meals! But also like: how I quite literally just pushed “apply now” for my MA in English because my current, good-paying job feels unfulfilling and short-term. What’s life if we aren’t making hard, and sometimes fun, decisions quite often? I remember reading about a famous sculpter who never tried sculpting until she was in her 60’s! How exciting to think that we still have so much time to discover our true selves! Hoorah for Megan and Harry! Just because something been’s done the same way forever, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you AND just because it has been done the same way forever doesn’t mean you can’t do it that way too.

  129. Abigail says...

    I quit my cushy state job with nice benefits and moved to a new city with my husband. I’m working part time with no benefits so I can focus on writing. He is also freelance. It was the best decision we ever made but so difficult and full of anxiety before we did it. People definitely thought we were crazy, but it’s not their problem!

  130. Elizabeth says...

    When I let my conservative Christian family know I was moving in with my boyfriend. I had grown and changed so much on my own (living hundreds of miles away) and fallen so deep in love that it didn’t feel like a leap, but it was a lot for my parents to take in. I dreaded making the phone call, and my mom almost hung up on me. My dad offered to pay to fly me somewhere on a personal retreat to think it over. My brother took me out for a beer to make sure I knew the pain I was causing our parents. My move symbolized so much more to my family – that I was my own person, charting my own path, and that it wasn’t the one they envisioned for me. It was the first time I was completely honest and wasn’t trying to please them. The hardest part was that they weren’t really angry – they were in mourning. Eleven years later, my partner and I are still together, unmarried. As of five years ago, when we got a dog, my parents finally let us sleep in the same room when we came to visit. My dad recently described the two of us as a “match made in heaven.” I give my family a lot of credit for ultimately choosing to focus on their love for me and their own growth in navigating my unexpected path, and treating my partner as a son-in-law. I know that’s not the way it happens for so many.

    • Db says...

      I am considering working up the courage to do the same! It’s v difficult to explain to my bc, who didn’t grow up in the same type of culture as me. It sounds like you have been very brave.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Courage to you, DB! Due to my birth order (and being the youngest by quite a bit), I have many nieces and nephews that watched this go down as well. One thing that hurt most is one of my brothers called me to say how his girls used to view me as a role model, and this changed things. Years later, I hope I am still a role model for them in that I paved the way or better yet, can become a trusted confidant if ever they break from their parents’ expectations. I hope I showed them that you can do what you believe is right in your heart, and you will still be loved.

  131. Mel Smith says...

    Agreed! They seem to have taken great pains to position this as a joint decision. And I can’t help but feel that choice of the press, with whom they’ve had a seemingly very difficult relationship, to have dubbed it “Megxit” is an attempt to put the blame/fault on Meghan.

  132. Amy says...

    I have mixed feelings about Harry and Meghan being applauded for breaking away from their life of privilege and luxury… for a another life of privilege and luxury.

    • M says...

      And for taking taxpayer dollars either way. If they wanted to forge their new way they might as well relinquish their titles and funding from the UK taxpayers/ Prince Charles. Oh and paying the taxpayers millions back for the renovation of their home. We all don’t get millions given to us from taxpayers and parents when we want to change our paths. And usually changing paths doesn’t go from a few million a year to tens of millions a year.

      GL to them but I think their timing was way off with all that is going on with the world and that it was the day before the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate’s birthday!! To me it screams “it is all about ME” and leaves a very bad taste in my mouth for both of them.

      Also if they did not inform the Queen prior to their announcement I would say that is very bad form and rude. I also find it terribly sad what has happened with the two brothers. My mother died when I was young and all I have left is my sister. I can’t imagine letting someone or something get between us. Yeah we have our moments and fight but if anyone in our lives tried to separate us we would show them the door!

    • Meghan (not that one) says...

      I think it’s important to understand that criticism of the Sussex’s decision (and how poorly the PR was handled) is much deeper than merely disappointing the Queen.

      There are very serious financial and organizational implications for governments both in the UK, and wherever they choose to move. As a Canadian, I can tell you that there are endless questions swirling regarding what our financial obligations are towards them. For example, when Harry was flying to Toronto every two weeks when he and Meghan were first dating, Canadian taxpayers paid for round-the-clock security for him, even though he was there as a private citizen. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for the public to question the logistics of this move. It’s one thing to choose to quit law school. It’s something else entirely to want to quit law school, not tell your parents about it until you’ve already done so, and then expect them to pay for it.

    • Claire says...

      I’ll be so curious to see whatever parts of their lives they share. Their public statement said that they would become financially independent of taxpayer dollars.
      I hope they put forth good into the world and their home with this! It’s certainly not Harry’s fault he was born into his family.

    • Kit says...

      These comments are awesome! Everything I was thinking articulated in such an intelligent and balanced way! Totally agree it is a lot more complex than changing your path and very very serious both for the British taxpayer who are funding them currently and the Canadian taxpayer who could potentially fund them in the future.

  133. joy says...

    when i decided not to have kids. i’m happiest as an auntie!

  134. Zsuzsa says...

    Sadly, never.

    • Mims says...

      Zsuzsa, you may surprise yourself. There are always forks in the road where you can choose another path. Sometimes just entertaining the possibility will open your eyes to adventures that where always there, but you did not notice. Best of luck in discovering a new path whenever you are ready.

  135. Sama says...

    Thank you! What a breath of fresh air to read this note. Since when has it become okay to judge every decision someone else makes? I’m over everyone being an asshole.

    Let’s make America kind again.

  136. Louisa says...

    I was a grad student in physics with a terribly toxic dissertation adviser. In one particularly awful meeting (4 years in) I stood up and just quit. To this day it remains something I’m most proud of.

    I then cold called a professor I once saw give a talk on my topic. Within 6 months I was a ph.d. student in an even more highly ranked program, with a phd adviser who remains both my idol and one of my fiercest advocates.

    • Lara says...

      I love this!!! You go, Louisa!

    • NH observer says...

      That is amazing!! Hear, hear!!

  137. A says...

    My biggest forging my own path definitely came just under two years ago when I met my current partner (love of my life!). He had a five-year-old son and a very dark history that included addiction and two years in prison. Several people in my family whose opinions I cared about deeply reacted very strongly to my decision to spend time with him and eventually start dating him, even though he ticked all the boxes on my list. It was heart-wrenching to have to make the decision to do what was right for me despite their anger and rejection. Two years later, we are living together, buying a bunk bed for his son to go in our new apartment, and just spent Christmas with my family. Sometimes those hard choices pay off! <3

  138. Amy says...

    I was college-track since the age of six. I had my own savings account specifically for college that I put money into every month. I didn’t consider anything else.

    After two years of university, I quit in 2007. I had no idea of what I wanted to do with a degree, and the lack of motivation translated to my poor grades. I realized that what I actually wanted down the road was to be my mom – stay-at-home parent, heavy volunteer. I had $30k in student loans and don’t regret going to university at all, but I still sometimes feel inferior to all my more-educated friends, or inferior to what I had imagined I would be as a teenager (even though I really wouldn’t want to be in that role now!)

    • NH observer says...

      Just curious — how have you managed to achieve that goal while ensuring financial independence down the line? To be clear, I don’t think you should feel at all inferior vis-a-vis educational attainments; I’d just love to know how you have been able to become a stay-at-home parent in a way that feels sustainable, financially speaking.

  139. Simona Morachioli says...

    I had a permanent contract in Germany, which I loved and I was very good at (and it paid really well) but I decided to quit it and come back to my home country (Italy) as the pain to be far away from my beloved ones and a place where I felt truly like myself had become too much to carry around. At first, I worked in a start-up for basically no money and then I started again at a corporate job for half the money, at a lower position and with double the stress vs. the German situation. EVERYONE thought I was crazy; I even had the national TV and a major national newspaper interviewing me as I was such a unique case (in Italy, most of the young graduates leave the country to find better luck and better contracts..); even registering again as a voter in my village was difficult as I was “the first one that ever came back…”.
    5 years later, lots of sweat and hard work, I am in a much better place vs. what I left – both professionally and personally; I think it was the bravest choice I ever had to take and it makes me really proud

    • Lora says...

      I can think of big decisions in my adult life that forged new, important paths – moving across the country alone at 23 yro, starting a PhD in my thirties, deciding to have two kids while enrolled in that PhD program, etc. But I think one of the most important decisions I made was when I was about 7 yro. I was required to wear a green or red skirt for the Christmas program at school. I had seen a plaid Christmas skirt at the store that I really wanted but my mom sewed me a basic green skirt. I’m sure it was cute, but all I remember was feeling deflated in it. When my mom asked me if I liked it, I remember feeling very nervous but I told her the truth. It’s one of my clearest memories of my childhood because it was so hard for me (I was generally pretty reserved and accommodating). My mom was a little annoyed, but bought me that plaid skirt and I loved it for years. She told me later she wasn’t happy about the wasted time and money of the first skirt, but was impressed to see me stick up for myself so wanted to support it. So, kudos to little Lora for that small moment of bravery that forged the path for bigger moments of bravery. And kudos to my mom for supporting that moment of bravery, indirectly supporting future periods of bravery.

    • Molly says...

      This is a really cool story. Good luck with it all!

  140. YCoh says...

    If I could suggest Sussexit rather than Megxit? It is purely semantic but speaks to them having made this decision together.

    • Calla says...

      I love that! It works much better since Sussex already has the “ex”

    • joy says...

      but that doesn’t rhyme with brexit!

    • Sequoia says...

      I’m sure the implication in the current moniker is that it was her doing.

    • Laura says...

      I feel like the press is trying to make it Meghan’s decision but I really feel it was more Harry stepping away due to what Diana went through.

    • jules says...

      @Laura – agreed. And here soon it will be his brother’s family in charge of the majority of his income when his dad is no longer in that role, right? That’s definitely a situation I would want to get out of!

  141. Emily R says...

    I guess I never have. I went to college and became an engineer because that’s what I was supposed to do. I worked as an engineer, and then as a Project Manager because I didn’t know how to do anything else. I’ve been okay with this path, but I don’t love it. And as a single person with a mortgage, making less than I make now by taking a leap of faith to follow my dreams seems impossible.

    • Emily R says...

      Or perhaps I’ve always forged my own path because I became self-sufficient straight out of college with a decent paying job, and living on my own. No one supports me but myself. I guess either way there was never a momentous event that defined the time before forging my own path and the time that is now.

    • when you know, you just know.

    • Sadie says...

      I feel you. I am a business woman with mortgage. I often remind myself that woman have only had the right to own property for less than 200 years. Being from a small town, I am carving my own way from my culture by graduating from college, using my degree, owning my own home and being self sufficient.

    • Michelle says...

      Emily you are doing great! I’m not a risk taker either. I have a job in healthcare that i’m not crazy about, but it pays the bills. The job is not challenging but it’s tolerable and doable. I think there is too much emphasis in American culture (sometimes) on pursing your passion in relation to work. I have a recession proof job that pays enough for me to live on my own. Sometimes it really is about getting paid and living your life as best you can.

  142. Elly says...

    Early in my junior year of college I realized, with the help of a faculty mentor, that I didn’t want to be pre-law or become a lawyer anymore. I told my parents and they went ballistic. My dad said I was just too lazy to study for and take the LSATs, and accused me of changing my major multiple times (I never had — it had been English from Day 1). I remember crying myself to sleep that night while watching Grey’s Anatomy. I have no memory of them ever apologizing for the insane overreaction, so I assume we just didn’t talk for a few days and then everyone acted like nothing had happened.

    I’m not sure why they were so tethered to the idea that I become a lawyer. I had several cousins who were, but none of us were very close. I think they were more upset that I made the choice without consulting them. But it was my life to live, not theirs. These days I’m happily settled in the field of higher education, where I was able to get my Master’s degree debt-free while working simultaneously. I’m still so glad I didn’t take out those law school loans.

    • Silver says...

      I started a law degree and one day in class the lecturer said that everyone in the room would likely become our peers in years to come, so he suggested we all share our two favourite musicians. I realised in that class if my life consisted of these people I would be miserable. I left that class, traded my Austudy (a terrible financial decision but who cares now), withdrew from the degree and my boyfriend and I went to Paris for two months. No regrets, life is too short to fit in an ill shaped role.

    • Leanne says...

      I think my parents saw law school/becoming a lawyer as being set up for life – a good job, good pay, solid future. I think it was hard for them (especially being from a small town/farm families) to envision what success would look like if I had that opportunity and threw it away. In the end, I think they just want to know we’re taken care of.