Planning My Escape


Everyone has a purpose in life – a reason for being.  However, at age 18, with each new college course that I completed, I found a new interest that made it difficult to declare and adhere to a major.  While at a young age I knew that I loved to write (satiric short stories, children’s stories and poetry), cook and better understand human behavior, I was overwhelmed at the prospect of deciding what to do with the rest of my life.  So, I dropped out of college and stumbled into a Corporate America gig at an early age.

At first it was a great adventure.  I learned a lot about human interactions (mainly how not to act) and met amazing mentors as I aimlessly drifted amidst “Cubicle Land.”  I honed business writing skills as a “ghost writer” for a senior level executive, taught myself how to use a PC and realized that I was pretty darn good at building relationships, working hard and performing business systems analysis.

To stay challenged, I made a mental game out of scaling the proverbial “ladder” and prided myself on never ascending at the expense of another human being.  However, as I grasped each rung, the view from my perch did not improve.  I observed “game play,” deliberate sabotage and watched co-workers trample others to reach their career goals.  I experienced sexual harassment and began to gain weight as a “protective armor.” 

I did have moments of clarity and briefly escaped the “rat race” when I exited to finish an undergraduate degree and to pursue a baking and pastry program in San Francisco.  In culinary school, I noticed that my work was different when compared to the other students.  It was neither classic nor refined like others finished products.  My baked products tasted great, but much to the dismay of my classically trained chef instructors, I always presented them in a more artsy/outlandish (picture Duff Goldman’s work) versus a traditional manner.

When I worked as a pastry chef in the Napa Valley, I loved the camaraderie in the kitchen, but got discouraged by the discrimination (can you believe that women are not appreciated in a professional kitchen?) and the almost daily gropings I received when I gathered ingredients in the walk-in cooler or pantry.  My chef wages were nominal at best and for the first time, I worried about how I was going to pay my next month’s rent.  So, when my former manager offered me a relocation package and a hefty salary increase to return home, I put my creative career aspirations on hold and succumbed to my fear.   

Upon my return to Connecticut, I resumed my management climb.  However, this time, my energy was sapped by the effort it required to appear interested.  My job became much more arduous and much less stimulating.  This time, I even developed a “skill” of attracting clients and managers who exhibited traits associated with borderline personality disorder.  With my continued ascent, each day that I donned a suit and drove to the office, I felt like pieces of my soul died.  Worst of all, I felt like a caged animal with no hope of escape.

So, after almost 23 years of “sucking it up,” trying to grow up while shutting up, hoping that things will get better after my next promotion, and working endless hours to make others rich, I am finally mapping my escape route from “Cubie Land.”

While this first post definitely reflects the perspective of a cynical, tired and cranky drone, I am still a very happy, shiny woman beneath my upper crust.  I hope that you will join me as I build my plan to exit a career that no longer brings me joy and muster the nerve to follow a path that makes my heart sing.

 

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~ by Kris on May 13, 2010.

14 Responses to “Planning My Escape”

  1. A lady who it seems is searching for a way out of the ruts of a successful career by developing a new one.

  2. I was so excited to read this! I’m looking forward to watching this unfold and perhaps taste a cupcake or two. 🙂

  3. You know that I am behind you in whatever path you choose… Oh, I have knife skills if you need them..

    xxoo

    • Mundaneness, lack of challenge, and boredom are a difficulty for intelligent people. Now that I think about it; that how most of our new little businesses get started. Make it happen!

  4. WOW!! I’m so excited for you! FINALLY! I knew after sitting next to you and watching you every day in culinary school that you would someday realize your talents and do something wonderful.

  5. Nothing could make me happier – I often dream of starting over as pastry chef myself…. for now I help out at my friend’s bakery and design stuff for him – someday!

  6. Kristen,

    There but for the grace of god go all of us! I will gain strength to pursue fulfillment by keeping tabs on your progress. I wish you a fantastic journey my friend.

  7. You’re on the right track Kris. I would also add that in my 23 years of corporate experience, I’ve seen fun and reward turned upside down as companies downsize, rightsize, etc. and make corp jobs so much less attractive.

  8. All I can say is Amen!! So with ya sister

  9. Kris, follow your heart and you can never go wrong. (That’s always been my philosophy at least, even if I am a terrible example ;). You know I support you and you KNOW that if you EVER need a taste tester, I’m there!…

  10. Woohoo! It’s about time! We all come to our own decisions when the time is right….I think this is great. You’ll think things through and do what feels right. How about the wings??? So glad for you~good luck!

  11. Kristen! As I read your blog I could hear you speaking these words! Your blog is fantastic. Very recently, my position was outsourced and I was devastated. Three weeks later I am singing like a bluebird and thanking God that I am able to now pursue something, anything that makes me happy. What a great feeling to be able to pursue dreams and passions!

  12. It’s been such a long time… My dear Kristen, I always knew that you did not fit in the corporate world. You have so many great talents. I miss your smile, your laughter and your chicken picata. It was so..so yummy. I miss you. I can’t wait to read what’s next. Let’s keep in touch.. Un beso muy grande y mucha suerte.

  13. So glad that you are taking a step toward your dream. I know you will get where you want to go because you always do. I just think you had to take the time to figure out exactly what you wanted. I will be there for you when you need me. (especially to be a taste tester!!)

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