In my late twenties, I found myself on my first business trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. As I lay by the hotel pool, sipping a frozen cocktail and reading a magazine, I felt my muscles loosen, my jaw unclench, and the knot in my stomach unwind. I couldn’t believe this was considered “business.” For the first time in nearly two years, I was relaxed. As I closed the pages of my magazine, the woman on the cover caught my eye. I knew her. She used to be my boss.
I had achieved what I had considered to be my “dream job” by the age of twenty-five and quit just two short years later. The last thing I had quit was the cello in fourth grade. When my job didn’t bring me the immeasurable amount of joy I’d expected, I felt betrayed. The podcasts, books, TV shows, and films I had once turned to for guidance and inspiration failed me. They all taught me how to work hard and pursue my passion, but none of them addressed what to do when I was dissatisfied. They didn’t explain how I would know when it was time to leave. In fact, I noticed most stories stopped once the main character reached their goal. But what happens after? What if their goal wasn’t what they expected?
In the pie chart of my life, I consider there to be five categories: career, family, love, friendships, and health. As hard as I try, the pieces never seem to be quite even. In my early twenties, those pieces fluctuated daily and I was obsessed with trying to find balance. I found I wasn’t alone. My fellow twentysomethings were trying just as hard to establish themselves. Trying to make enough money. Trying to find their way in relationships, social circles, professional successes, hobbies, education, passions, fitness classes, spontaneous trips, Instagram fame, wardrobes, haircuts! Trying to be a caring son or daughter, a dependable brother or sister, an outgoing friend, a charismatic date, an intellectual student. Eager to carve their own paths, determined to prove their worth, and gaining and losing slivers of the “life pie” along the way.
While this novel is very fictional, I wanted the storyline of Olivia to feel believable. She’s a twenty-five-year-old living in New York City, trying to make it all work. And it’s killing her. She’s so set on fulfilling one piece of her life that the rest begins to crumble around her. She’s trying so hard in all the wrong places.
This book won’t tell you how to get your dream job. And it won’t tell you to quit your job either. But it will tell you that it’s fine, expected even, for some pieces of the life pie chart to prevail while others are still baking. In fact, they will never all be even. I needed someone to tell me that. So this is Olivia telling you.