Becoming Okay with Quitting
“That’s so cool! That you just, like, quit your job and now you’re traveling around! I could never do that!” - people
I can’t sit here and lie, it is cool. I agree. But when it’s worded like that, so simple and fun, it’s easy to think that it wasn’t hard for me. Growing up, quitting had this rep of being the easy way out. We were raised to believe these sometimes-applicable quotes like ‘winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win’ (eye roll - remind me later to go on a tangent about how just because you read one quote on Pinterest one time, that someone probably said in a very situational context, doesn’t mean you need to apply said quote to every situation in your life ever). Anyways, quitting my job was one of the hardest things I’ve done. So if you’re thinking of doing the same - I just want to share with you how I eventually became okay with it and what I’ve learned since.
First let me tell you that, for me, the idea of quitting ANYTHING literally hurts. I’ve always been the over-achieving, people-pleasing type. I’ve always had to be in allllll the clubs, and I’d prefer to run all of them if I could. I got my first job waitressing when I was 15, and sometimes I would get to work to find that a coworker had quit the night before and my. mind. was. blown. HOW? How do you just quit your job?? Like, I actually couldn’t understand. I think it’s because I emotionally invest myself into pretty much everything that I do, which has its pros and cons, but it definitely makes quitting anything nearly impossible. I can’t stand the thought of letting someone down.
Also, I had a great job. Like great, great. I worked with amazing people, made good money, and had unlimited vacation time. I was being given more responsibility and all was well in the world!
Except, it just wasn’t. (cue sound of every baby boomer saying something under their breath like “ugh classic millennial, nothing is ever good enough for them”)
And they’re right. It wasn’t good enough. And there’s nothing my bosses or my coworkers or my paycheck could do to make it good enough. (Classic it’s not you, it’s me situation). At the end of the day, I just wasn’t crazy about the actual work itself.
I was so worried I was being too millennial. I kept telling myself I needed to just suck it up. I would literally give myself a pep talk everyday before work. Something like: ‘okay yes Rachel, you have to go sit there and do design work you don’t have an interest in because that’s what society says you do after college and you should be grateful you have a job and shame on you for not being happy, these people treat you well and have done so much for you and no job is perfect so keep doing it.’ I did this for months.
But it just wasn’t right. I think there’s frustrations with jobs, like not wanting to set your alarm and wear pants, but then there’s a different level of genuine unhappiness. I think if you’re genuinely unhappy with anything in your life, you need to take control and do something about it. I get that not everyone can just quit their job, and honestly that might not be the solution. Figure out what’s making you unhappy and then work on it from there. (sidenote: you can’t just sit there and be like okay from 12-1 I’m going to sit down and figure out what is making me unhappy. it’s going to take awhile and a lot of thinking and it would probably help to talk it out with someone)
Like I said, quitting isn’t always necessarily a solution. For me, it was. I’ve always wanted to work for myself, like always always. My best friend even reminded me of this - saying she remembers me, at our 8 year old sleepovers, talking about how I wanted my own business. So yes, for me, leaving a job was the solution to get there. But your problem might be that you’re not feeling challenged enough, you hate your commute, or you want to be paid more. There are multiple solutions to those problems without necessarily having to leave.
I was going to title this something like “How to quit your job when you’re not a quitter” and I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but I really don’t think there is a “how-to.” I mean there are technical steps that you need to take - like looking at your income, researching benefits, making sure you're not screwing over your current job, etc. But the truth is, every situation is so different and layered and has moving parts. I think the first step is understanding that no job is perfect. Working for myself definitely isn’t perfect, but I love it. So if you’re trying to achieve a perfect life, my piece of advice would be to stop - but that’s fine because that sounds so boring. My second piece of advice is to figure out what you do want out of your career and compare it to what you have now. If it’s pretty close and you actually enjoy the work, but there’s this one guy at work who eats your lunch every day and you just can’t stand him, I’d probably tell you to get over it and get a mini fridge. But if you’re nowhere near where you want to be, then yeah - I’d look into some new options.
Most of my little mantras have a pretty consistent theme and it’s this: You only have one life. Also, you have talents to bring into this world - so bring them. For me, I’d much rather take a pay-cut and do what I love doing. Granted I don’t have kids so I have some more flexibility for now. But you get it, you have to spend this time doing the things you actually care about - otherwise what are you doing? I was so worried about letting people down, but I’ve actually only received the best support from them. I think at the end of the day the right people, the only people you need, just want to see you happy. I’m so grateful to have the right people in my life.
I hope this works as good insight for anyone who needs it! If you have questions or just want to talk about life, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org