Spill Post #1: Goodbye employment.

by Janelle Hanchett


Goodbye employment. Hello homeless encampment.

Okay so we probably won’t end up homeless, but yesterday I quit my job. I QUIT MY JOB. On purpose. I quit my job on purpose.

Sorry. It still shocks me a little.

Why did I do such a thing?

Because I’m returning to graduate school.

Because I can’t return to graduate school and work and see my kids (at all, ever, even a little).

Because I’m effing INSANE.

I mean who does that? Abandons security, comfort, regular income to pursue a degree in English Literature, a virtually useless degree, a degree that promises no particular job at all – and if it results in ANY job it will surely be a low-paying one?


Well, I do. I guess.

But I had no choice. I stood at a crossroads. I kept writing posts like this one and this one, registering discontent and a feeling of lack – a sense of being unfulfilled. Something had to change. Something wasn’t right.

You know how sometimes you go through life and there’s this quiet suspicion in the back of your mind that maybe you should do something else? Like a low hum it buzzes constantly “Maybe you should go back to school, Janelle. Maybe you should quit work…” but it remains just an annoyance…background noise…until all the sudden it surfaces completely…rings like a crisp clear bell and YOU KNOW. You know what to do. Suddenly the path materializes in front of you and you just know “Oh. Right. I need to go this way now.”

Maybe I am insane. Maybe I am.

But despite my best efforts to come at it from a new angle, rework it, reinterpret it, it became undeniable that it was time for a change. The path had materialized and I just couldn’t go anywhere else. I tried to rig it – figure out how to do both work and school, but I found that was impossible. There are not enough hours. Something had to give.

It got down to a simple question: do I stay where it’s safe or risk everything to pursue what I love?

We chose to risk everything. And I say “we” because my husband – my heart, my rock, my truest and best friend (and staunchest supporter) – has told me in no uncertain terms that he’ll work 3 jobs to keep us alive, while I sit in a classroom discussing postcolonial theory with a bunch of skeptical sleep-deprived grad students.

I often feel that the universe gave me a kiss on the head when it sent me Mac. It’s like it said “Hey, you. Take this. Have this gift. You’ll be fine.”

And with him by my side, we will be fine.

[Wait. Hold on. I’m still a little flushed from that whole postcolonial theory thing. It’s so hot I’m struggling a little to find my words.]

Whew. That’s better.

Anyway, to answer your questions: No, we really can’t afford for me not to work. No, we don’t have a back-up plan. Yes, we may end up under a bridge.

But whatever, bridges are cool.

“Leap, and the net will appear.”

I’m learning to trust. I’m learning to be okay with the uncertainty. Sometimes you just have to LIVE, and worry about it later.

Right. I’m brave. I’m not scared. I laugh in the face of worry. I am a fearless spirit, trudging my way along the path of destiny.

[Oh shit. Did I really do this? Hold me.]

  • Rebekah C

    Once again, I think I love you. *hugs* This is gonna be so awesome (and hard). You can do it!

  • Lysa

    Congratulations! I did this 6 years ago to stay home with our kids (3 of them , too) and have never looked back. We struggle financially but it’s kind of an adventure to get really creative. And the safety net does appear. Best to you!

  • Shel

    I think that is awesome! You are so brave! All the best! 🙂

  • Christina

    I needed to hear this today. I am currently in school rather than working and let me tell you, when things get tough I want to run, not walk, back to work. I miss the security. I miss the stability. I miss getting my hair done. Alas I remember why I began this journey and why I must see it though. Thanks again.

  • Heather Leonforte

    As crazy as it may be, I think you are awesome for following your dreams, and your husband for supporting you. Your kids will learn a valuable lesson from this too! Go you!

  • Stacey

    Congrats on breaking out of the routine and going for your dreams. Good luck in school!

  • Elena

    You go! You listened to your intuition and that makes you one wise woman! It will be hard but the reward will definitely be worth it.

  • Amanda

    You did the hardest part, Janelle. The rest will fall into place. Congrats!

  • Sam Kidd

    Go For it. You will live several lives before you die.I’ve lived 3 so far…. You have also.Think about it. I’m not gonna say good luck, cause I don’t believe in it.You make your destiny….

  • Lesley


  • Tami -- Teacher Goes Back to School

    the quitting is the hardest part. other than every one and their grandmother telling you horror stories. don’t listen to them. they’re just jealous of your bravery.

    i quit a career in politics 8 years ago to become a substitute teacher while i earned my teaching credential and i NEVER looked back. most people thought i was completely nuts, but when it comes down to it, joke is on them. i love teaching – recess? spring break? jump rope? field trips? yay me!

    i’m just starting my first year of parental leave to care for our adopted daughter. we’re picking her up next month – so yet another new adventure.

    great post and i look forward to reading more.

  • Teresa

    Congrats on making this decision!!! You will do great! And we will all support you as best we can.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    I have to join in on this.


    It sounds like you and hubby will figure it out.. and you may find that this leads you on a different path. . . which may lead you to the career of your dreams.

    Keep your head up.

    This is GREAT!!!!!

    I am back from vacation, writing about our recent comings and goings this week, and back to scheduled posts next week…. come check it out!!!!

  • Amy

    Wow! You are the 2nd gal this week that I know who has done this and you are both so brave! I left my job 3 years ago (whoopsie, didn’t realize the recession was going to be QUITE as bad as it was) and while we struggled, and continue to, I do deep down think it was the right thing. It’s terrifying and exciting and I wish you the best!

  • Vanessa

    You are my personal hero. I am one year into grad school (English lit major as well), currently on maternity leave, scheduled to go back to work in October. I want to quit so very bad, especially because they denied my request for part time and I’m furious. But we need my health insurance. So I am looking at working 32 hours a week, 2 grad school classes, and raising a baby and a 3 year old. My maternity leave (pretend stay at home mom time) has been the best time of my life. I honestly don’t know what I am going to do come October. But your bravery is inspiring. Best of luck to you!

  • dani

    I applaud you. I admire your bravery.

    I’m not there yet. Hopefully, one day….

  • Rachel@ Happy Green Babies

    I’m jealous! I’m at that point you just spoke of, where it hits you! I want to quit my job so badly, instead they are making me work 40 hours starting next month (i currently do 30). I’m stuck though, I make good money as a civil engineer, we have a big mortgage and I can’t afford to quit! I’m in the process of trying to find a way to put together some work from home jobs to see if I could make what we need to pay the mortgage and I could be much happier.

  • Shan

    You can always live on less money than you think you can. I learned this when my check from work got screwed up and was $32 and change. For the month. And the screw up wasn’t that they underpaid me, so that was it.