A new chapter: passionate over practical

Monday, October 13, 2014

After working there for 3 years and 3 months and 5 days (but who's counting?) I'm excited to announce that Friday was my last day at Epic. (Remember when I first started working there in July 2011? Time flies.)

Although I'm all for negative, complaining posts (so long as they're funny) this post is not one of those. I'm striving to have a "rear view mirror torn off" perspective-- as Jo Dee Messina so eloquently put it in her classic 1998 smash hit* --and focus on the future. 

Epic provided me a great place to start a career, and an awesome opportunity to meet some excellent co-workers and customers, and for that I am thankful. I know that every company has its pro's and its con's and, suffice it to say, after 3+ years, I am ready to move on to the next and experience something else. Cue Jay-Z, obviously. 

What's next? Every time someone asks me that I imagine Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby

And the truth is, I'm not 100% sure exactly what I will do with all my time now. But I do believe I'm making a shift in the right direction towards something I'm more interested in. I'm going to leave the healthcare software industry behind, and focus on improving my writing.

Before I ever picked up an Epic training companion, or even a basketball, I always loved writing. I was the kid who, when my second grade teacher told us to write a story about Johnny Appleseed on a sheet of apple-shaped construction paper, filled 10 notebook pages front and back and stapled them to the back of the apple before turning it in.

In third grade, we'd get a list of vocabulary words and it was homework to use them in sentences. I would always make my sentences a coherent story. Once, I remember sitting at my kitchen table and complaining to my mom, "I want to go outside and play with my sisters! But I can't think of a story for these words, they don't go together!" And my no-nonsense (but obviously awesome) mom responded with, "Joyce, you could just write separate sentences like everyone else. You don't have to make it a story, that's your choice." Although, that never seemed like a choice to third-grade me.

You should take this moment to be thankful that you never attended any form of school with me. (Of course, if you did, please accept this belated apology.) I was a not-as-smart version of Hermione Granger except I was neither friends with the most popular boy in school nor secretly Emma Watson, so I was a nearly intolerable classmate, probably.

Childhood embarrassment aside, writing is truly something I've always enjoyed. It's one of the reasons I majored in English.** It's the sole reason I started this blog. But, it pains me to say that I've never really prioritized working on it in my life. Other things have always come first, you know? The practical things.

Practical things always seem to get in the way of the passionate things, don't you agree? I wanted to major in English at Bucknell, but I also wanted to be "employable." So, I complimented my English degree with a second major in Business Administration. Too often, my English classes (the ones I most enjoyed) were now on the back burner to microeconomics, managerial statistics, accounting, decision sciences, and so on. Who has time to read Middlemarch in its entirety when there were balance sheets to balance?

Then, my senior spring, during the whirlwind of uncertainty that is job hunting, I dappled with the idea of getting into editing/publishing, but didn't try too hard. So many of the "opportunities" came in the form of unpaid internships, most in highly unaffordable places like New York City. And that just felt so....hard. I wanted an easy answer for "what to do when I grow up." I went to a career fair, handed a personable Epic recruiter my resume, and had the job in about a month. Since this well-paid job offer was stacked up against zero other offers*** it seemed like the easy answer I was looking for. Practical. A good career move. A springboard. A good place to start. High-paying (for me anyway).

And then I hit my practicality limit. I felt like continuing my job there was like pursuing a goal that wasn't even ever MY goal. "Moving up the ranks" there was never even anything that I wanted. So now, I'm trying to get back to focusing on what I want, and pursuing what I've always enjoyed: writing.

I'm consciously choosing the option I'm passionate about over the most practical option, at least for the time being. It's hard! I start a part-time unpaid internship at a local magazine tomorrow. I know it's a good move toward aligning my career with something I'm naturally interested in, but I'm tempted to apply for random part-time jobs left and right, just because subconsciously I associate a paycheck with proof of being productive. (And, on a deeper level I likely associate productivity with self-worth.)

But, I'm reminded of this John Wooden gem of wisdom:

On  my last day of work, the sent emails in my Outlook outbox numbered 17,296. I am not mentioning that because think that's a huge achievement; rather, that seems to me like a whole lot of "activity." I'm hoping to prove to myself that I don't need a paycheck to feel productive, and further that I don't need to feel productive to have self confidence and feel valuable. 

I'm not certain of the specific activities I'll pursue in the coming months (other than my unpaid internships and continuing to blog), but I do hope to feel as if I achieve something, or move in the direction of achieving something. I hope you will follow along! :)

*not sure if this was actually a smash hit in real life, but it was in my life! Also, do yourself a favor and please watch that music video. The buttoned-down tied up shirt-turned-mid-drift obviously needs to make a comeback stat.
**The other reason? I love reading. Shocking.
***I blame the lingering recession. 


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I wonder how many people leave your former employer to pursue something they're more passionate about. Ideally this would always happen, but I feel like it happens often for folks that leave Epic.

  2. First - we are all wishing you the best of everything in this new and exciting career change and sending prayers and support. All that aside, 3 years, 3 months, 5 days is in a round number 1000 work days at Epic. 17,000 emails in 1000 days is 170 per day. And you didn't think this was a "writing" job?

    haha. Love you!

  3. BRAVO! I'm so impressed. It's as if you are telling me about my own life, but I haven't yet gotten up the courage to jump in to my passion, which is still to be determined.

    So looking forward to hearing more about the journey!

    xx Katie
    lovely letters

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