I Quit My 9–5 Job in the Middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic
After making $3200 from blogging in May, I handed in my resignation on June 1st.
I decided to trade a cushy education and mental health job, with teenagers, for writing and my coaching business.
In Australia, almost 1 million people lost their jobs from March after the social distancing measures were put in place.
I anticipated judgement or objections like, “people have lost their jobs, you’re so selfish for quitting during the crisis!”
Nope. People told me how brave I was for following my dreams, and how they’d never be able to do it.
I sure as heck didn’t feel brave — I felt guilty and terrified that I made a huge mistake.
I got home from work that night and plonked myself on the couch in the fetal position. “What I have I done?!” I cried to my girlfriend.
A 9–5 gives us a sense of security; we get used to being drip-fed a paycheck throughout the month.
Despite having over a year’s worth of savings, I still felt uncomfortable knowing I chose uncertainty over predictability.
Here’s what I’ve learned about being quitting and triggered.
1. You’ll Want To Run Back Into the Arms of Your Comfort Zone
In the first week of giving notice, I questioned if I made the right choice. I felt pangs of regret as the happy work memories flashed before my eyes.
The inside jokes with my colleagues, or the random improv skits I did with my students.
This is what happens when you’re about to step into ‘The Fire.’ A term coined by entrepreneur Julia Cha.
In her book, ‘Am I There Yet?’, she explains,
“As soon as you’re an inch from The Fire, you’ll feel that deadly heat, and your mind will scream, “STOP!” and remind you of all the Vices to distract you. When you go close to The Fire, you feel resistance. You immediately feel shame, pain, and pressure.”
Our brain loves taking the well-trodden path; comfort and predictability.
Trying new things and getting out of our comfort zone means our brain has to exert energy sprouting new neural pathways.
“Nope!” it screams, vomiting up every beautiful memory at you.
You suddenly forget why you wanted to quit in the first place, and a feeling of sorrow washes over you.
The moment I accepted my feelings and allowed myself to stew in The Fire, the emotional charge dissipated. I saw it as a new door opening.
If you don’t step through the door, you’re choosing to stay as the same person you are now. Growth doesn’t come from our comfort zone.
2. You Realise You’ve Chosen to Be Alone
When I realised quitting meant no more impromptu coffee and Laksa with my colleagues, it freaked me out.
But it’s never about the coffee or the Laksa; it’s about the connection.
Humans are social creatures, connecting with others is essential to us all in some way. And when you’ve actively chosen to leave these connections behind, it can shake your sense of security and attachment.
If you’re close with your colleagues, you’ll understand. They’re a support network, and they make the job fun. You’re a team, and it’s normal to feel attached to them.
Attachment is my niche, and I’ve worked hard to shift my attachment style from insecure to secure — but this triggered me on a different level. It made me feel like a scared little girl. I had to step into The Fire again.
Change is scary, but I’ve realised playing it safe is even more terrifying. I don’t want to look back in 5 years and think “Hmm. I should’ve quit back then.”
Who doesn’t want to take control of the direction of their life?
3. You’re Responsible for Calling The Shots
We’re conditioned to rely on people higher up than us. Teachers, bosses, managers.
But when you decide to go at it alone, you’re the boss. God isn’t going to come out of the sky and permit you to do XYZ.
Entrepreneur James Wedmore explains,
“If you take everything you’ve learned, which society has taught us to be really good, hard-working, permission-seeking employees, and you take that same way of being, that same thinking, that same strategy into business, your own business, you’re going to fail.”
You’re the one who has to show up and do the work. If I don’t write, I don’t help anyone or get paid.
You’re the one who has to organise your routine and hold yourself accountable.
Call me a ‘typical’ Millennial, but after graduating from college and working full-time, for a mere two years, I realised I didn’t want to build someone else’s dream.
When you’re used to being drip-fed a paycheck, and being surrounded by colleagues, and a boss who calls the shots — quitting your 9–5 can be terrifying.
It might make you want to run back into the arms of your comfort zone. Your brain likes it this way; it prefers the well-trodden path and predictability — especially in the middle of a pandemic.
I don’t know if quitting in the middle of lockdown was a great idea. But when my students asked me why I quit, I said “YOLO,” and I wanted to follow my dreams.
(They told me YOLO isn’t a ‘thing’ anymore.)
If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we have no control over external circumstances. Was quitting during this pandemic a stupid thing to do?
Maybe, maybe not.
But I’d prefer to take a chance than wonder “what if?”
I’ll see you in The Fire.
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© Kathrine Meraki