A little while back, I quit my job. Actually, I’ve quit several jobs. I took whatever came my way, happy to never be the dreaded U word (AKA, Unemployed). One unhappy job led to the next, and each time I believed things would be different. Turns out, that was not the best plan.
You see, if you only leap from lifeboat to lifeboat, you only learn to stay afloat, not to thrive. I was surviving, but I never realized that all along I could have been happily sailing around. If I had just looked around in between desperate flails, I would have realized there was a shore, and that I didn’t need to be treading water for so long.
So basically, that long boat analogy is me. I flung myself into bad situations that I didn’t have to, because I didn’t believe it was possible to have anything better. Happiness? What even is that?
I was really nervous to share this, because I worried you may think “She didn’t have it so bad! At least she had a job! I have it worse!”
Well, things COULD always be worse. But that’s not a good reason not to do something. Especially when it begins to affect not only your life, but your health. And that’s why I think it’s important to share this. Because while someone probably does have it worse, that does not invalidate your situation. Your situation can still be crappy, it may just be a different level of crappy. And happiness should be your the baseline, not the exception, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
For a long time, I had my mental game under wraps. I was plugging away, day after day, unaware of little changes that were creeping up on me. I started sleeping a lot more- which wasn’t immediately cause for alarm because I’ve always liked to sleep. Since I was tired, I figured I just needed to bike more. So I exercised like crazy, biking around 60 miles a week to get those sweet endorphins.
Then, things started to get a little weirder. The month before I finally quit, I started getting heart palpitations and random back pains. I figured that I might have been from biking too much, so then I started getting massages to help with the back pain. Oddly, it seemed to only help for a day.
My breaking point was when I was in a restaurant with my friends, and my chest started getting tight. The room was a little warbly. I went to the bathroom to take deep breaths, but my breaths were shallow. I felt trapped. I cried even though I wasn’t sure why I was crying.
Though I tried really hard to control it, my series of unfulfilling lifeboat jobs caught up to me, and the stress began seeping through the cracks. Sure, my jobs “could have been worse.” I may even be “too sensitive.” But I didn’t like how I was feeling, and I didn’t want to live like that. And maybe I am too sensitive, but that’s who I am. And that’s how I feel about that.
Quitting my job was one of the best and healthiest decisions I have ever made for myself. All of my weird symptoms have since gone away.
I immediately started sleeping better, had more energy, and focused on my art again. I got a part time job, took classes in illustration, did yoga every morning, and was able to do things I wouldn’t have otherwise like spontaneous road trips home and traveling to New York. For the first time in a long time, my life was in balance.
Fast forward, I now have a new full time job that I am super excited about. And I dare say, for the first time since graduating college, I am happy. I broke the cycle, and I could have been doing it all along.
Remember to be kind to yourself and do what’s best for you,