I have a LOT to say about my day job and circumstances under which I decided to leave. To put a positive spin on everything – it’s been an extremely educational experience. I’ve learned a lot about leadership, camaraderie, office supplies, technology, and security. It also gave me the luxury of being able to dedicate much more time and energy to SWOP-LA than most full time jobs would have. And I can’t overstate the importance that has had on my life. But I put in my 2 weeks notice last week. And my last day is a week from tomorrow (and my going away party is Next Thursday!)
I’ve been telling my co-workers that I’m leaving to be the director of a new non-profit. That’s not entirely untrue, but I feel like it’s important to to state that SWOP is not paying me. We are still an all volunteer organization. I do get some payment that as a result of my work (for writing, speaking, ect.) but it’s not the same as a stipend, let alone salary, from SWOP as an organization.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned during this transition
1. You Can Still Be Denied Health Insurance For Pre-Existing Conditions – It turns out that Obama’s reform about pre-existing conditions doesn’t take effect until 2014. It also turns out that “mild depression/anxiety*” and the accompanying prescription counts as severe enough to deny coverage. What really bothers me is that my first instinct was to berate myself for being so stupid as to be honest about my medical history. I’m sure my therapist would have something to say about that. Anyway – I’m confident I will find an insurance policy. I’m not worried about that at the moment – just irritated by how incredibly difficult the process has been.
2. Taxes Are Fucking Expensive – Did you know that when you’re self-employed or freelancing you should save 30% of your income for taxes? I didn’t! That’s a pretty sizable chunk of cash – and feels more sizable the less cash you’re making. I have literally never worried about this before, so it’s new. And saving money has never been something I’ve been very good at, so it’s challenging.
3. People Ask Incredibly Intrusive Questions – I’ve been actively trying to talk more openly about money and I think that it’s really important. Leading up to the decision to leave I discussed money in explicit detail with both my partner and some of my close friends. I highly recommend that move for anyone making a major job transition, or in general really. But I refuse to discuss my finances or my personal life with people who NEVER CARED before. I have been asked about how much I expect to make when I leave, how my partner feels about me leaving, how much my partner makes, if I have emergency savings, details about my personal expenses, and what the hell I’m going to do about my student loans. These questions have not come my friends, most of whom know the answers already in any case, but inevitably by people who don’t even know said partner’s name.
Here is what I’m sharing publicly: I’m going to be just fine financially. By “just fine” I mean stressed and probably worried about money a lot of the time, but that’s been the case for a couple of years. I’m more than happy to share more in more private spaces of the internet or off the internet altogether. My partner is incredibly supportive and our relationship is just fine. In this case, just fine means one of the best aspects of me life and brings me joy and amazement every day. And no, I’m not returning to escorting.
4. Some of My Co-Workers Are Awesome – I only developed relationships with a couple choice co-workers, and I’m starting to regret that now. Aside from discovering one of my newer colleagues interned at Sex Workers Project, I’ve talked with a couple others who are fascinated and incredibly supportive of the work SWOP is doing – and could possibly lead to collaborations in the future. I stand by my decision not to be out at work while I was here, but it’s been exciting to get to know people that I secretly suspected were awesome beneath the veneer of professional interactions.
5. I’m Resilient - I keep expecting the impending panic attack to hit me. And maybe it will after my last day for real. But for the most part I have been nothing but happy and confident in this decision since I made it. The support from my friends, colleagues, and family has been enormously helpful. Each of the 23 “likes” I got on facebook when I announced I had given notice meant a lot to me. Even though this is going to be difficult. Even though giving up security and routine is scary, it’s going to be more than worth it. This is the right decision for me. And the rest of this year is going to be extraordinary for me. And if it’s not, I’m still going to be ok.
I’m excited to hang up my collection of Banana Republic trousers for a while.
*I wrestled with myself about putting this out there. It’s in quotes because I’ve always found it a humorously vague diagnosis, not because I don’t believe it’s real. I firmly believe that there should be no stigma around mental health struggles… but that doesn’t make it easier for me to talk about mine.