I recently made the decision to pause my career. I have been working as a real estate agent for over a decade. This is an industry filled with false promises, fake people who make nice but turn on you when you need real help, and customers who use you, always trying to get a deal or take from you. Almost always self-serving.
At the end of the day, an empath-type personality doesn’t fit in whatsoever. Yet, I fought for a decade to do just that. And burned out faster than rainfall dousing a campfire.
The problems started when my self-worth became attached to the job title. If I didn’t do well, I was a failure. If I did well, the ego grew and the money flowed. I never quite found consistency with it all. And the cost of maintaining my license was mostly pushing my family into debt, year after year.
Being a Mom of three kids while trying to grow a business wasn’t easy. And the female colleagues I worked with laughed me off, saying “Put the work first and the kids will manage, because you’ll earn millions and that’s a good thing.” That’s what a good agent did. They judged me because they felt I made excuses for not being at their top-dollar earning levels.
I somehow agreed, internally, with those assessments of myself.
The down-to-earth agent
So I continued to strive for better, with this ugliness brewing inside because none of what I was immersed in, work-wise, felt right. I always put the kids first at the cost of my business. I often refused to leave them. I refused to dress up and play a role that made me feel itchy when I did so. No heels and fancy skirts.
I branded myself as the down-to-earth agent. What you saw was what you got and more! Many clients loved it. But that was a nice way for them to use me, use my sensitive nature. And I allowed it. Deal after deal, year after year.
Unfortunately for me, more was indeed what clients received—more money, more of me, more of my soul. Daily, it ate me up and spat me out.
I worked my butt off to get my license during a crazy time in our lives. I fell pregnant with my youngest daughter, now almost 11 years old, and the fight to finish my schooling was difficult at best. I was placed on bedrest near the end of the pregnancy, and had to beg the school to allow me to pause and resume once I had the baby. I then returned to school daily, racing home at lunch hour to breastfeed her and racing back to finish the day. I got my license and felt proud.
Then came the rounds of trying to find a brokerage to join, to teach me to be a great agent. To earn the wealth they did. The first one I trusted, I signed with, and within months, no one was there to help. I was often mocked and told to get selling.
I soon left, and began a repetitive cycle of joining a brokerage and loving and trusting a broker who promised me the world—only to be ignored and patronized, over and over—and then leaving for another. I excelled at internalizing rage and feeling like a failure. I know I was a laughingstock within the local board.
And even if I wasn’t, the problem was that I felt that I was.
I became resentment
And that has brought me to today. Years of issues, not fitting in, feeling like a fool, losing clients; or worse, losing the respect of colleagues I thought were better than me. Resentment became who I was and how I behaved. I lashed out, I ignored. I was angry all the time, and every day, I brought my work home.
I soon grew to resent my husband, because he worked a job where he could punch in and punch out, and he was never stressed like I was. He just worked, made good money, came home and enjoyed our family. I never felt that.
Yes, I was fully present with my kids, and enjoyed them. I never missed a moment, thank God! I was there, and I put off clients and colleagues without a moment’s thought, to be with my kids.
I was exhausted from trying to be something I wasn’t in the world of social media, so I could portray a professional person. I portrayed what was expected of me, and what I needed to be, but what I felt I wasn’t. And I resented having to play the part. Follow their rules. Taper my words and attitude. Be a good little girl.
I was changing, and not into who I wanted to be. Not even close. And I spent every waking moment comparing myself to others. And I clung to the job, because I’d worked so hard to get it. I felt that even though I wasn’t making consistent deals or a consistent income, and it was costing me in fees and ongoing costs, I had to keep at it. Even if I got to do a couple of deals a year, it somehow was worth it.
Or I would make sure it was.
It took my oldest daughter, now 20, being diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune illness and our lives being uprooted, for me to begin the downward spiral of leaving this industry. All of the frustration and ambiguous aspects of how I functioned within it became obvious to those around me, including the disinterest and lack of motivation that plagued me and made me feel like less than everyone else who worked in it.
It all began to add up and pile onto my shoulders. I was not working with my clients’ best interests at heart. Half the time, I resented customers for wasting my time and energy. You cannot serve people with an angry, broken mindset.
My mother suffered a stroke early on in my career, and had been babysitting my youngest child on the morning of that tragic day. So I could meet clients. Clients who, down the road, ended up using me and tossing me aside. Like garbage. Even working for me at one point.
Balancing my chaos
A couple of years ago, my mother also suffered a heart attack. That kicked my already-crazy midlife hormones into overdrive. I saw the return of severe health anxiety, which brought on physical symptoms. I struggled to be a decent Mom to the kids, while I lived in terror of becoming my own Mom and enduring her health issues.
I struggled with balancing my chaos, my daughter’s illness and being there for my two younger daughters; not to mention my amazing husband, who always fell to the wayside. As did our marriage.
The show went on and on. And on.
I noticed my lack of drive. I no longer chased leads for new business. I didn’t care. Yes, money became tight, but I started to save better and focus. I rebranded myself as referral-only, as if to alleviate my inner feelings of laziness and failure with a proper explanation and excuse.
I then noticed I would alter anything on social media that tagged me as my profession. It felt like an ill-fitting costume and made me sweaty and uncomfortable. In all honesty, I was also sick and tired of reining myself in with what I said or did.
I’ve never been able to quell my reactive nature. And now, I wonder … maybe I am not supposed to. Yes, I am learning incredibly uncomfortable things about myself, and I’m making so many mistakes that I cry more often than not. I’ve gone to therapy to help myself cope, and was told (with great relief) that sometimes we simply outgrow a career. And that isn’t the failure. The failure is staying in it and trying to make it work. That took some time to sink in.
But I feel good. I resigned from my local board and left my brokerage. I am working out details to park this license, so If I decide down the road to pick this career back up off the floor and start over, I can do so. At this point, I don’t feel that will happen. Who knows?
For now, I work to find myself again. I am blessed that my husband has a good job and is supportive of me and my craziness. I have always been a creator, an artist, and when I left that behind or pushed it aside, that was when everything began to fall to pieces.
I am working on writing again, and I’m writing my first book. Many ideas are flowing, and I am moving slowly so I can process it all. I bought a piano last year, and I am starting to play again. I was a songwriter in my last life, before marriage and kids. I’ve begun drawing and painting again … stocked up on paint, canvas and sketchpads. I turned my once-hated home office environment into an art studio, and it feels great.
It’s cliched to be doing this in mid-life, but I can understand now why it happens to women. We can only carry so much, and then we break. And only we can fix what is broken. And it has to be done, oftentimes, in a very blunt-force way to shake us up and make us take notice.
Well, I have noticed. And I am shaking things up now, daily. Let’s see where it takes me.
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image 1 image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 2 image by Mikhail Shustov from Pixabay 3 image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay