On Quitting: Part I
September 28, 2015
21 months ago I moved from Brooklyn, NY to San Francisco, CA. When Dropbox offered me a job, my eyes got all wide with excitement for adventures and opportunity, so I said yes.
I’m still figuring out exactly what happened between then and now. It’s like I have the first and last chapter of a book, but the middle is missing and it won’t fill in until I’ve put it back on the shelf for a little while. I’m going to do that for the next four weeks and share some stuff on here, twitter, and instagram. For now, this is what I do know, and it’s the way I’ve been explaining things to my family and friends.
The beginning goes like this.
As I had hoped, I was given plenty of opportunities. I met a bunch of incredible people and my new job had me doing things I had never even dreamed of. I felt insanely spoiled every day. People whose work I’d been idolizing for years were showing me pictures of their kids and teaching me new tricks in Illustrator. I was very humbled and terrified because I wasn’t nearly as good as them and I knew I had a lot to learn really really really fast. So — I worked every night and weekend just because I didn’t want to fuck it up. It was pretty amazing, and I was like a puppy dog in a field of frisbees…everywhere I looked there was a new thing to learn about or make, and I wanted in on all of it. But the company almost quadrupled in size, and lots of things changed.
The end was a little different.
Since April, a little voice has been whispering.
But, um, that’s awfully inconvenient. I live in the most expensive city in the country and I’m 2,500 miles away from my family. My new way of life has gotten pretty cozy. I favor a brand of kombucha that’s like $4.50 a bottle. Please don’t tell me to leave before giving me an escape plan.
So I started to read some pretty dope self-help books. I thought maybe I wasn’t handling stress well enough. I should do yoga, meditate, eat better, and recharge on the weekends. I convinced myself that it was totally normal to go home every Friday and cry a little bit before going out with my friends. “Just deal with it, dude. You’re tougher than this.” I even started doing crossfit, I got a bike…anything to feel like I had some control over my life and to convince myself that I was healthy.
Ugh, shut up. Think about the free food and your team and the paychecks and the projects coming up. Hang in there.
So in the spring I took a trip to New York and Atlanta, my two former homes. After a few days of distance I started to feel like myself again — all bubbly and bright and shit! Fuck yeah! Maybe this was just a passing thing and some time-off would do me right. I could keep buying expensive fermented teas. Sweet.
I scheduled more time away from the office, thinking that was what I needed in order to keep my personal life in check. But then I realized that every time I left, it was getting harder to come back. Something deep inside of me was fighting me because I knew that something wasn’t right anymore.
ok, but seriously…Leave.
No. Maybe. I don’t know, shut up. Let’s figure out what’s next first.
And then I went to xoxo. It’s a great little conference for people who give lots of damns about the shit they make. I was doing some internal maintenance while I was there…every so often I would ask myself “what’s right?” I wondered what my next big life-step should be. I wasn’t getting anywhere with this question because I’m a very curious person. My answers to “what’s the right next step?” can cover everything from becoming a stand-up comedian to building a really wide and pointy typeface like the one in Pink Panther. It’s fun to think about all of those things and doodle about them in my sketchbook, but it makes it really hard to move forward in any particular direction.
Then I was sitting in Amit Gupta’s talk where he described his battle with leukemia. Out of nowhere, the question in my head reframed itself. Suddenly my question of What’s the right next step? turned into:
What’s wrong right now?
Well…what’s wrong right now is X, Y, Z.
Ok so fix it. Stop doing X, Y, Z.
But what about what’s next? and money? and my job and my friends and my new apartment and their feelings and my feelings after i stop doing that and what will people think and my mom will be worried and i might not ever find work again and what if everybody hates my work now and…
Don’t worry about that now.
…i should probably hire a life coach and ask them what to do first right?
You will never figure out what’s right until you fix what you already know is inherently wrong.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ you’ve got a point.
So I quit my job. And I have no idea what’s next. Right now I’m spending some time removing other things from my life that I know are wrong, without question. It’s really incredible what a difference it’s made already. I feel so much lighter, and i’m starting to see — piece by piece — the little things that feel right.