Cheers to Being a Quitter

I am quitting my job. It’s happening. This is for real. I’ve been joking, dreaming, pining, wishing, hoping and crying about it for a while now, but the moment has come. The spinning hamster wheel that is my nine to five will have to go on without me.

I can’t do it anymore!

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I could probably keep doing this job ad infinitum, but at a cost I’m not willing to pay (read: my soul). I had told a few people I was thinking about it, and I hinted to a few others that my sarcasm on the matter might be more factual than I was letting on. But today it finally clicked. I’m doing it. Queue to alarm. This is not a test.

The first thing I did after becoming resolute in my decision was check my bank account. Terrible idea. My thoughts quickly began to slip back down the infinite loop of “should I or shouldn’t I.” But I wouldn’t get pulled back in, not this time. Fine, I’m broke. But let’s be honest, I’m broke and I still have this job. Keeping this job isn’t going change that. I’ll just be cementing myself to a seat in this Merry-Go-Round of broke-dom for all eternity. Making just enough money to keep relatively comfortable but never moving forward.

A Merry-Go-Round can feel a lot like progress, with its ups and down and constant motion, but it’s not until you get off that you realize just how far you haven’t gone.

I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that I could get the same excuse of a paycheck pretty much anywhere. And fear not readers, I’m not jumping into the abyss sans safety measures. I have plans and hopes and dreams and know enough people with unclaimed couches just in case everything goes to shit.

But determination, blind faith, and rocking a sweet pair of rose-colored glasses can only take you so far. It’s still scary. I am terrified. I am leaving my fancy big girl job and taking what many will consider to be a huge step backwards. I know a lot of people won’t understand, especially those who struggled so hard to find a job — any job — once they secured a pricey degree. I have been very fortunate. I got a “real” job right out of college, the first one I applied to. But now I am three years in and I’d happily go back to the days of slinging drinks and watching other people’s kids just to allow myself the time, space, and energy to bounce around and find my calling. This cubicle life is not for me. I want to wake up every morning and not enjoy the twenty minutes I spend in bed pretending I’m going to quit more than I enjoy the eight hours that follow it. But it’s still terrifying. I’m getting off the pre-paved “American Dream” highway and headed into the back woods, the unknown.

It’s scary to leave something even if you don’t love it — even if you actively hate it — because at the end of the day, it’s still something tangible.

It is something yours, something you can lay claim to. The unknown can easily be scarier than something bad because the unknown could be worse. Of course, the unknown can be incomprehensibly better too, but taking steps to find out takes a lot of courage.

Fortunately, I saw something even more terrifying than taking a risk. I saw the people who surround me at work, day in and day out, and realized how easy it would be to give up and give in and become one of them for the rest of my life. People who feel stuck, unhappy, under-appreciated, underpaid, unfulfilled, and unwilling to do a damn thing about it. I realized I’d much rather risk making a mistake and possibly even fail miserably than to give up and not ever try.

I was also fortunate to come across a weirdo. Someone who was completely in love with what they do while the rest of us spoke mostly in sighs and eye-rolls. And as much as I’d like to poke fun at the happy weirdo — because I cannot understand how we did the same job with such different feelings — I’m jealous. I want to be that weirdo! I want to take pride in my work and myself and wake up looking forward to the ups and downs because I’m invested, I care, and I truly feel as if what I’m doing matters.

I typed up my resignation letter and felt an immediate sense of catharsis. A good sign if I do say so myself. I can’t tell you exactly what will come next or where I’ll end up next month—let alone next year—but I can tell you that I’m choosing me. I’m investing in and betting on myself. My happiness is worth the risk. Cheers to being a quitter!

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