Why I quit my job and now work at a wine bar (among other things)

It was a decision that was inevitable. Not the working at a wine bar part — that part came later — but the quitting my job part.

When I moved from one advertising agency to another, I looked forward to the transition. I thought, “This will be great. I will be working at a smaller agency, be working on multiple accounts, and have a higher title, meaning more responsibility. It’s basically a promotion and a raise, right?”

I knew from day one that it wasn’t going to be a good fit. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t necessarily the company or the culture or even the work, although these did factor into my decision, but that it was also my own unhappiness with myself that affected my perception about the job.

So, approximately ten months and four days after my first day, after endless conversations with my roommate and my family, I did the inevitable: I quit. My last day was on a Friday and that Sunday I boarded a plane bound for Nantucket to see my sister and spend seven blissfully unaware, peaceful days on an island that closely resembles paradise. Everyone is happy there. Everyone is carefree. Then again, everyone also has bucket loads of money but you can’t deny the beauty that is Nantucket.

Here’s me, in front of a lighthouse!

This trip was supposed to give me some clarity. It was supposed to be me, myself and some thoughts alone, along with some quality sister time. I was supposed to find all the answers there and return home with some newfound sense of purpose and direction as to what I wanted to do next with my life. If anything though, the trip only reinforced how much more discovering I had to do.

When friends, family members, friends of friends, or strangers asked me what I was doing, what was my “plan” now that I was officially unemployed, I would reply as vaguely as possible, saying that I was only 24 and that I was taking some time to “discover” myself. I would say “All 20-somethings go through this at one point in their lives, right?” I said it with as much confidence as I felt, which wasn’t a lot at the time. I applied for part-time jobs steadily, only to be rejected time and again. I found myself taking for granted all of the times I had gotten jobs and how easy it had been to acquire them. Heck, my very first job at a grocery store was given to me on the spot during an impromptu interview and lasted for six years.

For the first time in my life, my days were spent unstructured, and totally free. I could do whatever I wanted. But there was a part of me still holding onto that sense of routine that my full-time jobs had afforded me. I wasn’t living up to my potential and all of the new things I could be doing in the hopes that something new would just fall in my lap. I hadn’t accepted that I needed to create a new routine and that just because I had forsaken one thing didn’t mean that the motivations driving my decision in the first place weren’t still valid: my overall happiness.

After a month of unemployment, I got a job at a wine bar. The pay is decent, I work with young girls like myself, and I get to meet interesting people. This week is my second week. And for now, this will do.

People still think I’m crazy. I can see the judgment in their eyes when I tell them I gave up a perfectly good salary-paying job for working part-time at a wine bar. But, some of those people are even crazier for staying in a job that makes them miserable rather than putting their own happiness first. After all, you can’t really put a price tag on happiness, can you?

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