Cover Photo: photo by Marcus Rocha/flickr
photo by Marcus Rocha/flickr

When You Have to Quit Your Dream Job to Pursue Your Dream

After I left, everything became clearer, in the way that a breakup can clarify a toxic relationship; put things in sharp relief.

The view from the office took my breath away. It was a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline, sun glinting off the water, buildings stretching into the horizon. I’d debated whether to dress up for my interview, and the moment I walked into that light-filled, stylish office, I was glad I did.

right

I bought my own furniture for the first time, possessions that no longer fit into a backpack: sheer gray curtains and a pink velvet chair, a houseplant I named Franklin. One evening, I walked through the East Village, relearning its narrow streets and fire escapes and tiny tea shops. At a lingerie boutique, I tried on a set of decadent lingerie: indigo blue, all straps and lace and buckles. I’d gotten rid of my small collection of silk and lace and stockings, slightly torn, before I left for grad school, and it was a decision I’d always regretted. Now, I allowed myself this indulgence.

New York Times-

wasn’t

Writing isn’t hard—it has never been hard

I tried to breathe through it. Anger wouldn’t work, but silence wouldn’t, either. I thought about what I always valued: being honest, true to myself, my values. Speaking up even when it was hard. I was a bold and ambitious journalist, but in this office, that part of me had gone silent. I couldn’t let it be silent anymore.

I composed a short email in which I told Jonas that his comments made me anxious and mistake-prone. My hands and body shook when I pressed Send.

I often replayed the moments of our last meeting. The way Lily blamed me for hurting the team, being selfish. “I’m not trying to hurt you,” I had said, “I’m trying to protect myself.” And: “I tried to pretend everything was okay, until I couldn’t anymore.”

job,

everything

Yet I could no longer imagine not giving myself that chance, even if I failed.


Laura Yan is teaching a Freelancing 101 Bootcamp at Catapult this July! Her writing has appeared in Wired, NYMag.com, GQ.com, Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Outline, Penthouse, Southwest: the Magazine, Victory Journal, The Awl, & elsewhere. Her stories have been featured in Longreads Best of Arts & Culture Writing 2017  and Longform.org. She loves deadlines, and hearing from you!