Closing a Chapter

Here I sit with a blank page open before me, pen poised at the ready to start the next chapter of my life. Yesterday marked the closing of a big part of my life, I quit my job. I have three weeks to finish out my time, tie up loose ends, and do what I can to set them up for a smooth transition, after which will mark the end of six years of blood, sweat, tears, and time building and growing something I believed in, something I was passionate about.

It’s a bittersweet closure. Six years is a long time and the investment of my heart and soul into it is hard to say goodbye to. This past year, however, has shown me that this change may have been long overdue.

I pause here to highlight that I completely see the privilege in being able to make such a change, especially given that I don’t have a next step, a plan for what’s next. Not everyone is afforded this choice and I am grateful for the opportunity to forge a new path forward, focused on what I want from life and what I want for our family.

This decision has been looming in the background for something close to a year and a half, I think…if I’m being honest with myself. The pandemic certainly threw everything into sharper view but it wasn’t as though the bones of it hadn’t already been taking shape.

I mentioned in a previous post about the agonizing decision I made to reduce my hours in the face of the pandemic, schools closing, and the needs of our family. Like many, I am influenced and swayed by public opinion. Oh that I wish it weren’t so, but I think as humans, that is a pretty natural inclination. I hope one day to be like those who’ve learned to combat that default setting to a more freeing space.

All that to say, I felt boxed in by the expectations set forth by society and myself. I worked hard to earn my degrees and to get to this point in my career. It’s equally valuable for our children to see their mother working and doing what I love. I struggled with becoming a statistic (see here, here, and here…and there’s more countless articles out there highlighting the inequities). I desperately wanted to fight against becoming what I didn’t want to be, a stay-at-home-mother (SAHM). Truthfully, it’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with being a SAHM, it’s rather that the strength, patience, and work needed to do it is not something I believe I was born with. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and I love my children, I also love working, contributing, and making an impact in the ways I was able at work. I prided myself on being able to do both…because I wanted to do it all (because that’s realistic).

I’m sad to say that my department has been struggling. We’ve been at a standstill due to many major transitions without resources to adequately sustain and support our work. It’s created an environment where growth has stopped, creativity and motivation are hard to come by, and the sense of accomplishment and joy I once felt is empty. I’ve sat in this uncomfortable place for a few years holding my breath for the change we were promised that never came to fruition. Then the pandemic hit.

All the time spent with my family, and with myself, being able to explore and learn more about us all has reset, in some ways, my priorities. It’s not so much that I no longer want to be contributing in the workforce but, more-so, that I want to be more intentional with my time and energy as it’s precious and diverts it away from my family. I want to, once again, find the joy I once had about my work and have it add meaning, not merely meeting a sense of obligation to my employer or to myself in fighting against the patriarchy.

So yesterday was me stepping out of the shadows of myself and society and into the unknown in search of what’s next. While I’ve not always welcomed massive change, I’ve never faced change in fear. Anxiety is certainly present with so much uncertainty and no clear path forward, but I refuse to allow anxiety and fear to dictate my life and my decisions. My children will benefit from seeing their mother working and doing what I love but they will also benefit from seeing their mother living life with intentionality, courage, and bravery. I will say, I don’t feel particularly brave or courageous right now but I know what I’m setting out to do might be.

2 thoughts on “Closing a Chapter

  1. Wooo, Jinhee, congratulations on the big move! From your post it doesn’t sound like you are feeling super celebratory, but gosh, I’m jealous that you will be spending so much quality time with your kids, your partner, and most of all, yourself, in this new chapter! It seems like the job wasn’t fulfilling anymore, and it must have made you unhappy to continue on without the connection and meaning you once had. I think it’s sad that society makes people especially women feel so bad for deciding to be a full time mom, when choosing to be happy, to be there for your family, fully dedicated to literally the hardest job ever (parenting) is an incredible way to model your values for your kids. I see that you’re homeschooling now, too and investing a lot into the kids’ Korean education. Wow, omma, you are dang impressive! You are such a role model for other KAD moms like me, too. Sending love to you during this time and hoping you will find your decision ultimately empowering and freeing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Caroline! I appreciate your encouragement and kind words. I’m sure I’ll get to the celebratory place soon. Right now it’s a good amount of relief mixed in with a heavy dose of anxiety about jumping in without a set plan. I will be glad to get more of that meaningful time. I appreciate you! Not sure about role model but if my experiences can connect or resonate with others then there isn’t much more I could ask for!

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