I originally published this post with Anxiety Ink on Monday, May 14th, which is weirdly fitting since it was also my dad’s 75th birthday. I don’t normally do the cross-posting thing, but it’s a pretty big deal.
Is there a term for the fear of new beginnings? Or perhaps it’s more a fear of endings. (I just finished reading Carrie Jones’s Need* series, in which the main character “collects” phobias and recites them when nervous or scared.) Maybe it’s just called “being human.”
I have this on my mind because I just finished typing my resignation letter for the day job. After eleven years in the wilds of post-college adulthood and employment, four and a half of which I’ve been at my current location, I’m leaving.
I thought it would be easier. After all, I’ve only dreamed of this my entire adult life – possibly earlier. But it feels a bit like that time I rolled off a ledge into a thirty-foot drop.
My mother did the stay-at-home-mom thing, and I think our mothers’ choices often define the standards we set for ourselves. Unfortunately, that isn’t making this any easier.
The status quo – in this case, the day job – offers comfort. Or maybe that’s complacency. Comfort of a paycheck, certainly. Relying on one income is difficult, to say the least (especially with a baby), and would not be really feasible without supplementing from savings. I am beyond fortunate that this is an option, even for just a year or two.
But my current, soon-to-be-ending job has also provided me with a safety net career. Apparently, municipal administration is work I can do – and do well – without feeling like I have to sacrifice a part of my soul. When I leave the standard workforce, I have no guarantee it will welcome me back.
And in the type of parallel that rarely happens to me, I feel a similar reluctance in my writing life.
I’ve finished the novel revisions. I am in the process of typing them up and, for the last few weeks, have been searching for a new project to fill the gap.
This draft is my last before I send it out un the world, to fly or fail. There will always be things I can improve, but the story is truly as strong as I can make it. Holding onto it longer would be no more than a delaying tactic – procrastination at its finest.
My indecision and ambivalence towards the next project, whatever it might be, is that same sort of fear as leaving the day job: the fear of new beginnings. The fear of leaving behind the comfortable and familiar and embracing the pure potential of the unknown.
For now, I’m structuring a schedule of my own – a framework to replace the day job. I am attempting to fill the space when I worked on revising the novel with reading until I can make a decision on my next project. Maybe I’ll make a little progress on my to-read pile (don’t laugh too hard)! At the very least, I’ll be refilling the well. It feels pretty dry, these days, when I think about working on new stories.
So I know I’m facing my fear, but it’s still scary.
*The Need series is wonderful and you should totally go read it. Because Carrie is a fabulous human being, and evil pixies, and because it takes place here, in my corner of the world.