The Ghost of Christmas Past (AKA Why I Quit My Corporate Job to Pursue My Dreams)

Journey back in time (less than a year ago) to discover why I decided to start my own business and take control of my mental health.


Sarah Skeates

2/23/20225 min read

Blog #3 – The Ghost of Christmas Past (AKA Why-I-Left-My-Corporate-Job [Because-I-Was-Dying-Inside])

It took a lot of back and forth and a long ass time for me to figure out how to put this into words, so be kind, rewind, and stay tuned for more stories and updates.

First, and foremost, the last time I felt this sort of happiness – pure, true, unadulterated happiness – is when I was on my second maternity leave about 4 ½ years ago. In the last 3 ½ years, since being back from mat leave, I’ve gone through “moderate to severe” depression and anxiety, had panic attacks that I thought were literally going to be the end of my life, and have experienced stress that has brought me to tears more than once, and landed me in the back of an ambulance last August (2021).

Shit, that sounds so intense when I put it down on paper.

In the last 3 ½ weeks, however, my chest pains have all but diminished, I’m less paranoid, I’m sleeping better, I dance while I work, I smile more and am happier at home. You ever hear the song “Vacation” by Dirty Heads? Go listen to it – I’m going to create a video montage to that song one of these days, because that’s how I feel when I think about the fact that my career is basically styling cubes of cheese on a board and rolling salami into flowers. I’m not downplaying anything here; it is pure TALENT to be able to sell adult lunchables to a generation of DIYers, and I’m incredibly proud of the work I (and other snackologists) do. New goal: get “snackologist” into the dictionary.

I think it’s wildly important to be passionate about your craft and do everything with love and good intention. The most successful entrepreneurs don’t just think about how to make money (and yes, of course it’s on their list) – but they pay attention to the details, they solve problems, they care about the individual and genuinely want to either do better things, have a better product, or be a better [insert title here (snackologist)].

I was brought up with the mentality of “Family first,” then, “Work your ass off to make sure you can pay the bills.” I consider myself a strong individual – I have rigor and gumption and grit. I am also a stubborn ass, I have a hard time admitting I’m wrong, and an even harder time apologizing for it. So let me tell you, it took a LONG time for me to finally admit defeat in my corporate position, but it was like something clicked inside… Or maybe “snapped” is a more appropriate word, considering the full-on mental breakdown I had last September.

When I couldn’t handle the pressure and stress and workload anymore, when I was given a resounding “no” in my plea for help and additional resources, I knew without a doubt, I had to leave. I was just a number to these people and felt like a complete and utter failure. (Luckily, I’ve been reminded time and again by my mentors and my peers that I wasn’t the one who failed, I was the one who had been failed.)

I had to make a decision. Do I continue down the (relatively) secure path of another company to whom I may be just as expendable? Or do I finally put all those years of daydreaming to good use, and walk a terrifying, exhilarating, unknown path alone?

Rewind 10 years: I had an opportunity to intern at a hotel with an incredible chef and I didn’t take it. At the time, I was worried about leaving my $37k/year job, though I had zero debt, zero assets, next to no bills, no kids, and only had to worry about rent. I don’t regret not taking it (every single decision I’ve made has led me to be exactly where I am in this instant), but I do sometimes think about that pivotal moment and what could have been. I also think about 10 years from now – my kids will be in high school (or close to it), and I’d have to start thinking about their future, and helping them out the way my parents helped me through life. I’d be 10 years closer to retirement, and I would likely not take the risk of leaving a steady paycheck to start something that may or may not “pay the bills.” And so, I’ve decided to take the path less traveled with the mentality that it’s now or never.

Timing is serendipitous, isn’t it? I believe in fate, and I believe everything happens for a reason, and pieces of the puzzle have fallen and will continue to fall into place and make sense as time passes. Queue Olaf’s “This will all make sense when I am older…”

About a year ago, my journey into entrepreneurship started (though I didn’t know it at the time) when I went to a party and my friend ordered a charcuterie board from a lady down the road who did it as a side-hustle. I started to noodle, thoughts began to form, and ideas started taking shape in my head. About a week later I came across a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of The Great Gatsby, one of my all-time favourites):

For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.

I was not living a life I was proud of (no matter how ‘successful’ I was in my big-shot job). I’m starting to realize that it does take courage to start over again. I’m scared here at the bottom of the totem pole. I still get jealous when I hear about something great going on in someone’s corporate life. I feel like I’ve lost a bit of my identity. And I’m angry. I’m angry that an organization could care so little about someone who gave it her all. I’m bitter that it came to this end and things could have been different.

But I’m also so grateful for the hardships. I’m thankful for the experiences and connections and relationships I will carry with me in my role as Owner/CEO/President of my company. My Company. Man, that feels good to say.

I got that quote printed on a bathmat and literally stand on it every day of my life while I’m brushing my teeth. I’m reminded of why I chose this path and I smile. Every. Effing. Time.