Last Friday, July 8th marked the final day at my job. My first and only job out of college, I had been at the company for just over four years. Two weeks prior, I had given notice to my boss after endless discussions with my family, my friends, and my own little mind.
I’d toyed with the idea for a long time, weighing the pros and cons, guessing at what “funemployment” would bring to my life. Unlike people who quit their jobs because they’re stressed out, or because they have terrible bosses, or because they work awful, long, hours, I quit simply because I wanted to.
It may sound silly, especially given that I wasn’t in some unbearable situation that was taking a toll on my physical or mental health. In fact, when I’d think about it, I’d feel like I was being spoiled: here I was, with a perfectly fine job – not amazing, but by no means bad – making a steady income, living in New York City, and I basically just gave it away, back to the universe. Compared to the thousands searching for jobs to be able to feed their families, pay their mortgages – I was certainly making the ultimate wasteful, foolish decision.
But for myself – and as self-centered as it sounds, this decision was ultimately about myself – I needed to do it. Coming back after working in Asia for an incredible two years, I found myself back in the same place I had worked in right out of college. All around me, my peers were on their third jobs, or completing their MBAs. And while it goes without saying that comparing yourself to others is pointless, it was difficult to avoid feeling like I was stuck in a rut, unable to move on from a job that didn’t excite me.
I thought about it some more. I had the financial means to do it – savings to last me for a period of unemployment. I’d live with my parents until I could find a job, but I wouldn’t be a millenial freeloader; I’d pay for my “rent” and expenses, do the cooking and chores. I could do this.
In the end, what really sealed the deal was also the fact that my grandparents are here from China, staying in Chicago for the summer. This is a rare visit that’s only happened once before, back in 2000, and likely won’t happen again given their age: flying 14 hours is awful, but flying 14 hours as an 85-year-old is, I’d imagine, another level of awful. I distinctly remember texting my mom back in May, as I debated about resigning and moving home: “Mom, I just feel like if I quit now and go to Chicago to spend time with you guys, I won’t regret it. But I do think that if I don’t quit, and I miss out on this chance to be at home with them, I will regret it.”
I’ve read so many articles about nurses and doctors quoting people on their deathbeds, all with the same refrain: “I wish I’d spent more time with the people I loved. I wish I’d worked less and focused on my family and friends.”
And so, I quit my job. I wanted to be home in Chicago, after 8 years of being away in Philly, New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. I wanted to be closer to my parents and back in time to spend quality hours with my grandparents. I wanted a fresh start, some time to regroup after an incredible time in Asia. I wanted to rethink my career path, to reevaluate my strengths and weaknesses, figure out what really made me tick. I wanted to be out of New York City, a place I’d grown to appreciate more but still never really loved. I wanted to have control over my life, get away from the status quo of complacency, be proud of the decisions I made.
I am young and have my whole “career” ahead of me – but I would be lying if I said I was 100% confident in this path I’ve now taken, one that is now too late to take back. I am terrified it’ll take me ages to find a job (or worse, what if I NEVER find a job?). I am unsure of the career path I want to take, at a loss as to where I can or should specialize. The world is my oyster…but the oyster is freaking huge.
It’s a choice I’ve made, though, and I’m ready for it. I don’t anticipate this to be an easy period, but then again, no one ever said it would be. Laura said to me the other day, “Don’t worry, it takes time to find a job. It’s good you have time to be with your fam and grandparents, and this time around you can take time to find a job you’re interested in and passionate about.” She’s right, and I’m so thankful for a support system that loves and encourages me through my sometimes-rash decisions.
Wish me luck on this (hopefully) mini-chapter in my life!