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  • Writer's pictureRobert Jones

Kicking Ass with Dead People

Updated: Mar 22

In our last episode I mentioned how I believed I got what I deserved. Brutal to be sure, but I needed that kick in the ass to move into a life I felt was worth living.

Just a few months before I quit my full time job, I found myself praying to my dead mother, and I don't pray. I eat. Bread and Cheese are my emotional support animals. It was one of those moments you never forget like the 1986 space shuttle disaster, or 9/11, or that time when Justin Timberlake grabbed Janet Jackson's boob. Yeah...indelible. I was heading into the office early one morning, and I had come to a stoplight, and looked to my left to see happy people getting their morning coffees, and I truly wanted a cup of their happiness. I said out loud, with my voice cracking, "Mama, how much longer do I have to do this?" and a tear rolled down my cheek. I won't tell you that I heard the voice of my dead mother, because I want you to continue reading, but if I had heard her voice she would have sounded like Darth Vader if Darth Vader was a Mississippi debutante. Side note: Mama started smoking at age four. I imagine she would have said something like, "Sugar, (rattle-mucous-rattle) you just keep doin' your best (rattle-mucous-rattle) and you will rise out of it. Please go easy on yourself. (rattle-rattle-mucous-rattle-mucous-rattle)" You can hear it can't you? Almost like that Morgan Freeman phenomenon.

Even though I was talking to dead people, and could barely eat and sleep, I still didn't have the courage to quit a job that was eating away at my soul. Meanwhile, my photography could not have been more inspiring. I had just had my second gallery showing, followed by a photo shoot that produced some of my best work yet. It was a marathon event comprised of five photo shoots in two hours. I loved every second of it. THIS was what I was meant to do, but I saw my day job as a challenge I could not back down from. I needed to succeed like I had never succeeded before, despite repeated failed attempts that suggested otherwise. I told my friends, "I never thought I could work so hard at being so mediocre." The math didn't make sense: Determination + Hard Work = Success. Wasn't that the recipe for success, and who writes these damn recipes anyway? "Fuck. Me. I am so tired."

I was drowning in the work, and making careless mistakes. I didn't need a performance review to tell me what was obvious, but I was going to go into that review owning what I had done, and I was going to be honest about what I needed to succeed. I felt good, and I felt that my good outweighed my bad. I had high hopes that this review was going to be a new start in creating a job I could love...well, maybe tolerate. At this point, I would've have settled for something like "A Little Less Nausea" perhaps. My bosses had another plan. Some would call it good medicine. I called it eating shit, and they served it up buffet style. They hit me from all sides. It was brutal. Two on one. A married couple. A power couple. Gorgeous, savvy, and highly intelligent. The Mr. & Mrs. Smith of Dentistry. Any other time, I would've been turned on. "Mmm...y'all be sexy, yo! What you got under that smock, Doc?" The reality is, I walked away broken, gutted, and betrayed. I wouldn't have felt those emotions if I hadn't invested everything I had. Just the opposite would have happened. It was the lowest I had ever been, and I was sick of being so low. By this point, I had been low for eight months! I knew what had to be done, and with the support of everyone I knew and loved, I quit. Special shout-out to my husband who was right there every step of the way. In fact, he was the first to say, "You can walk away anytime. We will be okay. Just do it."

I gave notice a week later. It was one of the most beautifully honest experiences I can remember, and because of my honesty, nothing I said could be debated. To their credit, Mr. & Mrs. Smith were receptive, and kind. I'll always be grateful for them. That meeting is one of my proudest moments in dentistry.

It's nearly 16 months since I gave notice, and I haven't regretted one single day. I now have my business license, and I'm getting work. Growing this business will take time, and I am not the most patient of people, but I am where I need to be. Feels good. Feels real, real good.

**Next week we'll get into what happened the day after I left my day job. Juicy? Probably not, but I hope you enjoy it.**

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