The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Changing Careers

As far as careers go, I’ve had four of those in the four years since I graduated from college (LOLZ).

I nannied in beautiful Boston first, and then moved back to Tulsa to intern for a teaching job which I eventually took up as my full-time gig for the next two years. Before that, I taught ballet and spent the bulk of my day in leg warmers. I don’t regret a thing.

The thing was, I never wanted to be a person who was afraid to turn the page.

During my senior year of college I sat and listened to my friend Ryan tell me about how much he hated the 9-5 grind, despite his success in the banking industry just two years out of college. He was uninspired, burnt-out, and afraid that even if he did get into a relationship, it would be for little else than to stave off his boredom.

When I asked him why he wasn’t looking for a different job or exploring the option to change careers altogether, he rattled off the usual stuff. He was being paid well, afraid of not being able to find something better… you know, your usual quarter-life crisis kind of stuff.

I sipped my cherry limeade and thought about how much I wished this poor guy would let go of his fear of turning the page on his own life. I probably said as much, but I think I was speaking more to myself when I did.

To me, being stuck in a rut is a whole lot scarier than change.

At some point, Ryan figured this out too. He’s now living in Tribeca where he’s started his own successful business, writes music in his spare time, and is dating a girl who is a dead ringer for Jennifer Lawrence. God, I’m so happy for him. You know?

I’m telling you about Ryan because I’m someone who studied in the arts, so changing gears in your career is sort of a given. For those of you cutie pies in accounting, engineering, and business, I understand that it’s not always so cut and dry.

My most recent career change has been the toughest to date, and maybe the toughest I’ll ever have. In May I resigned my dream job as a high school theatre teacher and took a position on a children’s ministry team at a large church in Tulsa. It’s still hard to believe that I did it. And even though I’m loving my new job, leaving my wonderful students is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I’m writing to you from very recent experience. Changing careers is good, and it’s bad, and it’s ugly.

But, it can also be very lovely. I’ve had plenty of lovely moments and I promise that if you lean into change, so will you.

The Good.

As a teacher, I was working an average of 50-60 hours every week. Because I worked in the biggest high school theatre program in the country, I would easily hit 80 hours in the weeks leading up to a performance. And our performance count? Roughly 6 per year.

As I’ve talked about here and here, I fell in love with writing right after college. The dream has long been to get to a point where I can write full-time, both here on the blog and as a published author. Guess what looked like alongside my 6o hour weeks at the school?

It looked like two straight bouts of pneumonia. And feeling like I was always behind on something. It looked like mounds of laundry perpetually ignored and a diet made up almost entirely of fast food.

I knew that unless I changed something, I was going to have to set aside my writing, maybe forever.

My new job demands no more than 4o hours a week from me, and it’s unreal how nice that feels.

I also work with a team of mamas (God bless) who place a high priority on gettings done quickly and efficiently.

Now I come home every day while the sun is still out. I moved into a new office in a new place and have gotten to start fresh in nearly every way. Good ol’ is finally getting the attention it deserves, and I’m knee deep in some fresh edits on my latest manuscript.

In an amazing stroke of luck, my dearest coworker took over my job at the high school. I only had to do minimal training before he took over, and my students inherited a teacher that they (and I!) already deeply trusted. Seamless.

Y’all, this is really, really good stuff.

The Bad.

While I actively embrace change in my life, especially in terms of my career, I’ve realized that I have a really tough time transitioning into said change.

I am overwhelmed more easily. Things like having a wall in my office that still has no artwork on it will irritate me beyond end. I hustle too hard to impress people straight out of the gate, before I’ve even learned all that I need to know. Weirdly, I want to nap all the time.

For me this is inherent in changing careers. I just know now that I’m going to have those transition pains, no matter how much better of a gig I’m transitioning into. I’ve also figured out that it won’t last forever, but it’s tough while it does!

This is the number one reason I decided to take a hiatus from active blogging this summer. I knew I needed to give myself some time to get into my new routine, fix those empty office walls, and adjust to working with my new team. If you’re in the midst of transition or know that one is imminent, might I recommend that you take a short break from taking on the world? You won’t regret it.

The Ugly.

I was one of those lucky teachers. I had the best students in the free world. And because I taught an elective, I would teach most of my students for at least two years, and many of them for all four years of high school. You build some pretty deep bonds in four years, you know?

When I wrote the letter telling them that I was resigning I went through half a box of kleenex, two glasses of wine, and one of those jumbo Snickers bars that you win in a raffle and never actually eat (except I did, in one sitting).

My kids were unbelievably gracious, but I was still heartbroken. I dried a lot of tears, both mine and theirs, in the weeks that followed. It’s making me sad just to write this!

Bottom line, guys. There will be times when people are disappointed when you move on. They might even be heartbroken. But you gotta do it anyway.

If you know it’s the right thing, you gotta do it anyway.

You know as well as I do that we’re adults, and adults have to be responsible. I’m not saying that you should willy-nilly quit your job. It probably pays you money, makes your rent, and funds your Netflix habit. And you gotta eat, too?

But if it’s time to stay home with your babies, or try something totally new, then don’t let the fear of change or the inconvenience of transition be the thing that stops you.

I’ll say it again.

Don’t let the fear of change, or the inconvenience of transition, be the thing that stops you.

Don’t let your aversion to disappointing people keep you in a place that’s not healthy for you.

Take it from a girl who’s done her fair share of career shuffling in the last four years. Life is full of lovely opportunities. I hope you’ll take as many of them as you can.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Changing Careers | Party of Sarah


  1. This was a great post. Change is never easy, but there’s always something good that comes out of it. I had to laugh out loud at the “quarter-life crises” part LOL. it’s so true, I’ve done that so often concerning my own job. Not that I hate it or that it’s awful but I definitely don’t want to be there forever.
    – Gladys (from EBA, ourhappilyeverhome)

    1. Author

      Hi Gladys!! I love your blog and insta feed! Thanks for taking the time to stop in and read. I’ll be live on Instagram today (6pm CT) to answer some follow-up questions about change and career moves. Thanks for being such a sweet blogger friend!!

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