Monday, March 19, 2012

Burning Your Professional Bridges

"May the smoke from the bridges I burn today be seen far and wide," - excerpt from the finest resignation letter there ever was. (No, really - forget that Wall Street/ping pong guy and go read this immediately.)

When I'm not boring you with tales about how happy I am to be a stay-at-home-mom, I'm usually nattering on about how thrilled I am to have left the practice of law - that is, unless we're discussing shoes here. Why aren't we discussing shoes here?

Ahem.

Anywhoo, the point is - yes, I do have one - what if I have to / decide to go back to work outside of the home someday, and I'm on record here about how much I didn't like the law? Much as I like what I'm doing now, there will come a day when Master P + Imaginary Future Child will be off to school - what then? How smart is it to be rambling on a public blog - in lawyer speak, on the record - about how my old profession wasn't right for me, when I might need or want to work again one day?

I couldn't find a lawyerly photo of myself, so you get Master P blowing his chances with the lawnmower industry instead. There's a giving them the finger joke in there that I am far too mature to make.

(Edited to Add: Found one! Here is the picture of lawyerly despair - and exaggeration - during a long day at the office;)

Younger, blonder, but more miserable.

Um. I do occasionally debate whether it's brave or exceptionally stupid of me. Wait, don't answer that - I know which one it is. Foolishness aside, I candidly type here about this in hopes I can help someone (anyone) avoid feeling stuck in the wrong job - and also as a challenge to myself to not fall back into the devil I know.

For every year I practiced law, I told myself, "Just one more year" and "Let's pay off X loan, then you can look into teaching or something else (anything else)". I'm glad to have met some personal and financial goals in doing so. I'm proud of having pushed through something that largely didn't come naturally to me, but . . . no. Not again.

I don't write this to create my own barnburner of a resignation letter (if a terribly tardy one at that) - that's not my style - nor am I ripping up my Bar cards or attacking the many incredible people with whom I once worked. I'm fortunate to have practiced for & with some terrific folks, and I don't write any of this to reflect badly on any - ok, most - of them. It was the practice, not the people, that was the problem.

Rather, I want to challenge myself right here to do better, to find something (if finances/circumstances permit, of course) that challenges me in all the good ways, or at least doesn't make me dread going to work. I want to do as Ms. Maura did and be brave enough to pursue something I've always wanted to do.  I don't have it figured out yet, and I'm grateful that I don't have to, but I'm declaring myself open to a new possibility.

No Mo' Mondays, darlings - let that probably stupid, definitely liberating smoke (sparkly pink clouds, as I'm envisioning it) fly. Can I get an "AMEN!" from any fellow bridge-burners?

13 comments:

Legally Fabulous said...

I don't think you're burning bridges.... I think it's pretty obvious that you had shitty jobs that were not a good fit for you, and I don't know of anyone who hasn't had a shitty job that wasn't a good fit for them and left them totally dejected/bitter towards the profession in general, especially lawyers. If you ever choose to go back to work, something great will come along.

Anonymous said...

your sentence about just one more year to pay off this loan etc hit home with me - I too have a job that I don't think is right for me although it required umpteen years of school and affords a fair amount of prestige & $$ (I am also the primary breadwinner...).

I do still want to work but just doing something (anything!!) else so have recently started applying to positions outside of my profession - this feels scary and vaguely professional suicidal, so it's nice to hear from someone on the other side. ( regular commenter but anon on this one!)

The Waspy Redhead said...

From a single gal (with a job she loves, but lets face it they dont call it a job for nothing)'s point of view...

I wish to get married and have children DAILY. Not just because I would like a family, but because I would like to have an option to do something other than grind it out at this job that I actually love all day. Not implying that by getting married and getting knocked up, staying home would even be an option for me financially, who knows? I think it would just be nice to feel like I could make another decision.

I wouldn't worry, I don't think you've said anything in your blog that would make it trick for you to go back to work.

Cheers!
Waspy

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

Ditto! (As usual.) I have refrained from discussing my former career on my blog, because who knows where that would end up. I love teaching and hope to go back to it, so I refrain talking about it too, esp since I have zero desire for former (or future) students to find my blog. But I haaaaated the practice of law and omg the stories I could tell.

Carly Anne said...

Oh, I admire you for this. Someday I aspire to be as brave regarding my horrid ad agency time...

Erin said...

I have openly addressed my desire never to work again in my degreed field...in fact, barring a major tragedy? I don't actually plan to ever "go back" to "work". I've got more than enough to do to keep myself busy and make myself useful to humanity. I plan on shifting gears, sure, but mostly I'll have more time for volunteer work, hobbies, & family obligations.

This is probably even a less acceptable choice than being a SAHM - but I don't care! I'm done living my life from behind a desk :)

Wynne said...

As a fellow recovering lawyer I cannot tell you how many people out there share your opinion. So many of my fellow JDs tell me on an not infrequent basis how lucky I am to have "gotten out." I would say that you are in no way burning bridges, and in fact are probably building some by bringing people together in solidarity to wonder why the heck they spent so much time (and money) only to end up not using their degree. I like to think that my law degree will help me when it comes to negotiating curfews with my son (and any future children), and my engineering degree will help me through his lego stage of life, and that is good enough for me. :)

Chas said...

Until the day I had Georgia (and even for that hormonal crazy time after) I really thought the main reason I had a kid was so I could quit my job. I think I did burn some bridges...staying on "maternity leave" when I knew good and well that I wouldn't come back. Oops. Now my goal is to never EVER go back to an office job.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I think it's pretty impressive that you know enough about how who you are, to know that that gig wasn't for you. And kudos for stepping away. Knowing what you do, if one day you want to work outside of the home again, I'm sure you'll find something that is the perfect fit.

ms. mindless said...

I love your honestly. You did what was best for you and for your family. I'm glad you are in a place where you can confidently own it. :)

Wiz said...

I look at this differently! If I have stayed at home with babies and toddlers until they go to school, that is my reward! To have a few hours to myself :) I have no idea if I will go back to work. Its weird because I LOVED my job as a CPA. At the same time, I loved it because of my coworkers. Now that I live in a separate state, that job is no longer available. There is just no guarantee that I will find something that I like that isnt too stressful, so I am going to enjoy staying at home! Although, I have thrown around the idea of teaching at a community college - a class or two. Decisions decisions!

Kristen said...

I know that look of yours. Eerily familiar. :) I relate to how you feel about the practice of law. I've been exploring "alternative" careers (seems like working anywhere other than a law firm is considered alternative these days) and it's led me to an NGO doing legal work and teaching kids yoga once a week at a yoga studio. (Huh? Kids yoga? I know...) This is all pretty new, but we shall see . . . Anyway, I'm really proud of you. For speaking up and being honest with yourself and others! I have a feeling you'll find that whatever career move come next -- your blog will have prepared you for it. :D

Maura said...

It is funny how few lawyers actually talk about liking what they do. My boyfriend likes being a lawyer, although he has bad days like the rest of us.

I have not regretted leaving the law for a second. Even though teaching is hard, I don't have a permanent position and I'm nervous about living within my means, it is the best thing I've ever done. The law was not right for me, and I don't feel any shame in saying so. I know you will find the path that is right for you. In the meantime, enjoy that precious boy! He looks more and more like AH! Such a cutie.

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