I am jobless and okay with it because I am taking control of my mental health.
As of right now, I have no job.
I’m ‘jobless,’ yet my life feels more fulfilled than it had in years.
I’m engaged in activities that I absolutely love; I am spending time with the relationships in my life; I am reading, writing, playing music. I am being happy.
I was two years into a ‘career,’ when I pulled the trigger and decided to quit, with at least two months of time in front of me that had no official source of income. And, in many ways that many would have considered ideal, it was a great job and a great potential career that I left behind. I was making a salary that exceeded what I needed to live and allowed me to save money; I had a company-matching 401K plan; I had a clear, logical, hierarchical path to increased earnings and responsibilities. I left all of this behind because of the draining lack of fulfillment I felt in this situation. I felt that my ideals were stymied. I felt that my hours and days were spent working incredibly hard on projects and deadlines towards which I felt very little passion or excitement. I felt empty in whatever emotion describes that call we all feel deep within our souls to contribute something wonderful to the world and to our lives. So I left.
Yet, still, after this happened, I felt guilt around certain people and felt the need to hide it. I felt the judgement of those who were continuing down foreseeable career steps; I felt that I was now suddenly behind those around me — in life, in a career, in most other things. Because what may have been right for them was certainly not for me, and I finally realized that.
The question is: should I feel guilty about this, as I did when it initially happened, or should I continue to embrace it, as I am now?
Why should I feel the need to jump immediately into another job or career, when I am still working hard on my mental health?
Why is it socially unacceptable to consider the time I have since spent vigorously reading novels and diving deeply and grinning widely into stories, perusing the depths of Reddit and other internet sites to expose myself to ideas and to learn more about various issues and topics through anecdotal dialogue of my fellow humans, and watching YouTube videos through Crash Course or Khan Academy to exponentially widen my functional knowledge of countless topics, as ‘part of my career?’
Why — through the many eye-rolling social responses to the fact that I am ‘unemployed’ and ‘ between jobs’ — am I supposed to feel guilty about educating myself in ways that I value and about enriching my life in ways that I enjoy?
Why — though I feel as if I have learned more about the world in three weeks of my current lifestyle than I did in two years working for a company — is this considered ‘a break from work or a career?’
Why is this not considered part of the development of my skillset and knowledge that, someday, I will certainly use in the job(s) or role(s) or whatever(s) that comprise my personal place of fulfillment in the world?
What immediate, superficial judgers do not realize or take the time to learn from me are that, at the time of my decision to quit my job, it had already caused me over a year’s worth of mental health struggles and that it had overworked me to the point that I did not have the time to deal with my mental health issues while working full-time simultaneously.
I was traveling every week for work; I was conjoined at the hip to my laptop; I was unfulfilled emotionally. I was tired and drained and anxious and struggling with my personal life. I was really struggling.
I needed the time to recharge — so I am taking it.
I should not feel the need to fill my time with anything other than that which is important to the recharge of and devotion to my mental health.
And that should be okay.
So, the real question: am I truly behind, because I did not have the mental capacity to continue working through a career that did not enrich my soul, or are others behind, because they have not yet taken the initiative to uncover the sources of their unhappiness and to change them, because they have not taken control of their own mental health when it is struggling or their own sense of fulfillment when it is lacking?
If this position sounds familiar to you, take the advice and the urging of your body. Listen to it; take control of your mental health now.