Reclaiming my life meant leaving my career.
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
— Me to my boss.
Neither one of us expected those words to come out of my mouth. Not after four years, two promotions, with business booming (as usual) and not to mention another round of funding on the way. How could anyone possibly want to jump ship now? Why now?
Like most endings, it happened gradually and then all at once.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
At 19 years old, I became the fourth member of the hottest new high-tech start-up in Boston. I built their sales database from the ground up and created some of their very first marketing documents. As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty good about myself to be in that position as an undergraduate. I was proud to be surrounded by seasoned executives who had all done this before. I was in the right place and this was my opportunity to learn, a lot.
At 21 years old, I was hired right out of college as a full-time marketing specialist and events coordinator. Like most recent grads (or people, in general) I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t have any passions I could turn into a job. All I knew was that I was passionate about being successful, so I gave high-tech a shot. Throughout the following two years, the company grew quickly and so did my responsibilities. I gained vast marketing experience in areas like event management, email marketing, digital marketing, etc. I learned more than I thought I could and I picked up new skills easily and enthusiastically. The more knowledge and skills I had, the better I could discern what work was best for me. I even worked long hours and weekends because I understood that was part of growing a successful start-up. I wore exhaustion like a badge of honor.
At 23 years old, I felt like a fraud. From the outside I looked like I was “killing it”, but in reality, it was killing me. I didn’t feel fired up about what I was doing and all of my efforts to learn and embrace the industry felt like they were going to waste. Why was I putting in so much time and energy into something I didn’t love? What did I even love? I was loosing hope, gaining anxiety and my confidence was dwindling. I also found my first grey hair.
Then, *cue music*, I was asked to create an internal informational video. I didn’t think I was the right person for the job because I hadn’t worked on video before, but like everything that was asked of me, I said yes and learned how to do it along the way. My creation was well-received by the entire company, specifically our CTO, who wanted me to run with it publicly. That’s when I started producing an informational web series that I wrote, acted, directed, and edited. Finally, something that felt right.
Soon enough, my low-budget videos were earning thousands of hits online, much more than any of our high-end videos ever received. You could say I felt validated by the universe. I thought, “Maybe this was “my thing?”. I wanted to produce and act in video full-time, but it was not possible there. After that, nothing I worked on fulfilled me in the same way. So I started to side hustle as a video editor/producer to channel my creativity and to test the market. Could I make this a career, or at least a part-time job? In the first month, one of my projects was picked up by the Boston Globe, and another was featured in the popular food and travel blog, The Next Somewhere. Ah, the universe chimes in again. I knew I had to change direction and it was now or never.
At 24 years old, I decided to quit my job. After having the conversation with my boss, I swear the tides turned and the skies cleared. A surge of personal power reentered my body when I was speaking and I felt so empowered. That’s what living your truth feels like; good as hell. Since I had fostered honest and respectful professional relationships with my bosses, they respected my decision to move on. Several weeks later, I was given an incredible send-off party surrounded by colleagues that reminded of the important work I had contributed the last four years. When I made it home that night, I wept tears of pure joy. I finally felt like my life belonged to me.
At 25 years old, I’m studing digital video as a graduate student at Northeastern while working as a production and post production assitant at Viewpoint Creative. This past year I also freelanced in wedding/event video and digital media services to make extra money. My life isn’t perfect, freelancing has it’s challenges and I’m still working towards better career and financial stability, figuring out what my career goals exactly are and the steps I need to get there. Nevertheless, I can honestly say that embracing this journey has brought me a peace I’ve longed for and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
Making the decision to leave that job was not easy and it took me a long time to take action. I know many people who are in that same place and I empathize with the feeling of not enjoying your job anymore, not knowing what you want to do career-wise, or simply feeling spent, worn out and unmotivated. As a passionate person, it can feel like a burden to not know what your calling is and fearing you’re wasting time doing the wrong thing.
But I no longer believe in “wasted time” or doing the “wrong thing” becuase, like me, maybe you need to be where you are right now. Maybe you’ve got to be here until youre ready to move forward. I needed that job and I needed every experience that came with it to get to where I am now. Everything I went through happend for me, not to me. So I beleive the same for you too.
If you’re reading this and can realate to 23-year-old me (no matter what age you are), I want you to know you are not alone and that you have choices. I urge you to spend time developing yourself by learning new skills that spark your interests (you don’t need to leave your job to do this). Don’t just spend time doing your job perfectly — especially if this job is not fulfilling you, make sure you’re investing in yourself otuside of your “role”.
You’ve got this.