I quit my job at Rolling Stone because of menstrual cramps
As a journalism student with an inherent love for music, Rolling Stone was my dream. From little on, the Wenner Media magazine was on my list of hopeful achievements. I had subscribed since I was young and fantasized about seeing my name on the pages. To be quite honest, sometimes I still do.
When I was accepted as an intern at the magazine I felt completely and utterly removed from my own life. Some well-constructed, mature overachiever had displaced themselves inside of my body and taken me on the most eventful adventure my suburban heart had yet to experience. On my first day, my shell of a body quivered with nervousness as I prepared to meet my editorial idols and perform to the best of my abilities, hoping to get noticed for what I knew I was good at: music.
The details of my time at Rolling Stone are unimportant. The stories I have from my time at the magazine are ones I cherish, but add nothing to the point of this story: the important part is that I got there. By some magic fairy dust or bagel-smelling wind through my open window, I had landed my dream internship with no assistance but my own two hands and a ballsy email. New York had given me the confidence, and I ran with it.
But I lost it.
It’s really hard to admit you’re failing. That’s something I learned for the first time in the heat of my downward spiral. I’ve been a failure before. I’ve been a careless student, a lazy friend, and a sports team quitter, but it wasn’t until New York that I became honest with myself; that I saw myself fail at something I wanted more than anything.
I was spending my days in a dream office. Each time I stepped off the elevator I felt a little smirk of satisfaction bubble in my stomach. “Ah,” it would say. “This is it.” I was just an intern. But this was success. Each swipe of my key card into the exclusive glass door...each walk through the Rolling Stone Cover Wall on my way to the bathroom...it was bliss.
Then the bubble in my stomach moved to my ovary and all of a sudden I had 5 bubbles that weren’t supposed to be there. The smirk became a stab in my right side. The success became calls in sick. The excitement became fear. I knew in my gut I was about to lose everything I had worked so hard for. I was about to leave.
I’ll never forget the night I knew: the hours passed me by as I lay in bed, holding my right side as silent tears streamed down my cheek. At 2 a.m. I considered waking my roommate to bring me to the emergency room. A pain, so shrill, so violent, was exploding in my right side. Of course, I thought of my appendix. But the fear of the pain, combined with the fear of a doctor’s visit so far from home, led me to take 4 Advils and a Xanax to calm my racing heart.
I eventually dozed off to sleep with my heating pad wrapped around me. In the morning I was better. Able to walk again, but concerned enough to know something inside me wasn’t right. For once, it wasn’t my mental health. This was physical. This was real. It was enough to be the trigger of a breakdown larger than anything I’d experienced. It was enough to send me home.
So I quit my job at Rolling Stone over menstrual cramps, or cysts, or feminine issues, whatever you want to call it. Something so routine, yet so excruciating, led me to lose my footing. It was embarrassing. It was misunderstood by those around me. It was heartbreaking.
Finding the courage to have the conversation in which I quit my job at the magazine took me days. I sat in my room and stared at the wall for what must have been hours. With my heating pad wrapped around me, I consulted my roommates and they coddled me with understanding. I called my parents and for the first time in my life, they told me it was okay to quit.
I’d always hated the subway, but riding it that final day was almost nostalgic. It was familiar, accessible. I was so low, the darkness of the surrounding tunnel couldn’t dampen my view. I was numb. I dropped off my key on my way to the airport, only to sob the entire two-hour plane ride back to Chicago. Another failure added to my list: I had become the sobbing girl on an airplane.
I still have a hard time passing Rolling Stone on magazine shelves. It hits a soft spot in my gut, the one that reminds me of the simple fact I tried so hard to hide: the fact that I quit something so important, something that built so much confidence in me. Sometimes that confidence feels left behind, too. But in the moments I recover it, I rediscover a lost part of myself, a part I know I’ll get back entirely someday.
What’s even harder are the cruel things people say when they hear I quit a job so prestigious. I make an effort not to reveal the details of my time there because of the outrage I’m met with every time I mention leaving the position. To this day, there have only been a handful of people who have understood and respected the dire pain my mind and body were putting me through.
Though this is nothing new. It doesn’t matter if a health problem is mental or physical: someone will always have something negative to say because their body functions differently than your own.
What’s important is the lesson I learned. I had the opportunity of a lifetime in the palm of my hand. But my failure to complete my time there, or to rise up to a member of the staff as I’d always dreamed, does not diminish the pure fact that I got there. The dream I held so closely was achieved. Though it was a different version of myself nervously strutting through the glass door on my first day, it was me. I did that.
There is also this me, this careful me, that puts my health before my heart. Maybe it’s my anxiety and a constant need for control over what I’m physically feeling. Maybe it’s paranoia. Whatever it is, it led me to a state of healthy decision making, a state in which I slowed down and took care of my every need.
The conscious decision making isn’t as glamorous as the cover wall, or 5th Avenue in the springtime, but it’s provided me with a new type of longevity. For much of my life, all I saw ahead was my pending career path, the people I'd meet, and the things I'd write. But I've found it's more important to invest in a future that keeps me stable and able to reach greater milestones ahead