What I learned by Quitting!
So yesterday I quit a job. It is the first time I have let go of a job (or anything really) midway in over 8 years. This is because I felt and maybe rightfully so that quitting was a cop out. In the past (and indeed now) almost all articles on quitting were geared to quitting to start your own company, or if you had a better job offer. You needed a certain stick-to-it-iveness, grit to make it and be successful. At least that’s what all the podcasts, articles and pundits were saying.
In my 20’s I regularly quit stuff. Jobs, family members, relationships and situations that I thought added no value in my life and in reality they drained me really without a second thought. After having my kids and becoming a single mum it was seen (by my family society and myself) as selfish and irresponsible to give up on a paying job for whatever reason especially in the gig economy. I saw my staying on jobs, no matter how bad they got as a sign of maturity.
I have worked in the film industry in Kenya as a Production Designer, Art Director and Set Designer on and off for the last 10 years. Work is cyclical and at times sporadic, and the industry really small. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who quit. This has led , through the years to me working under the most diverse conditions; some downright sad, others sheer madness. And through it all, the low budgets (and non existent ones), the directors who won’t sort their shit and communicate their wants before they get on set but still expect perfection from you, the lack of prep time time and time again, I delivered.
So what changed? Why did I quit THIS particular job?
I wasn’t happy. I started to dread getting on set. The very idea of being on set started giving me panic attacks. I found this article from The Balance “Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job.” and I ticked off almost all of the 13 signs they cite in the article. And then I realised that I could tick off that same list for almost every job I have been on in the last 24 months.
Today as I reflected on my quitting and came to the realization that I have been at this same place in every job I had my eureka moment! I have been enabling this behavior. By staying on on jobs that expect “miracles” from me and delivering, not stopping and saying this is killing me, this is raising my anxiety levels, this is pushing me beyond my limits I have shown them that it is okay for them (those who hire me) to do this to me because I will ALWAYS deliver.
I have allowed them to overlook me, my feelings and the result of their actions (my spiraling into deep depressive moments that seem to get only worse) because they only ever interact with me while I am on their jobs, they are never there to pick up my pieces after I am done with these jobs.
My first medium story last year was about living with Fear . Writing it allowed me to accept and see the fear I was living with. But I failed to see it in my professional life. My fear of not being able to provide for my children, of being a failure professionally has tied me to a cycle of pain, depression, anxiety and failure. Yes failure. Because struggling to deliver in less than optimal circumstances day after day, because I have not been firm in my stand on the conditions that I can work under means that I have not been at my best, I have not been giving my best which makes depresses me. And the cycle continues.
So I quit. Because doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of Insanity. I took a risk. And it may pay off, or blow up in my face. But, for the sake of my mental health, the quality of work I am putting out I needed to say enough! This isn’t working, and follow it through with something that they would understand or at the very least understand that how they were working and expecting ME to work wasn’t working because they weren’t listening.
Have you felt this way about a job? You want to or have wanted to quit a job. Did you quit? Did it get better?
musical inspiration Jacob Banks: Chainsmoking