I Quit: Sorry Not Sorry
Senior year of college I remember the stress of having to write 100+ pages in the last few weeks for various seminars. I feared I couldn’t accomplish this task. An adult gave me a challenge. What if you just dropped one of your classes? You don’t need the credit to graduate, it won’t kill your GPA and you already have a job lined up after graduation. Just. Let. Go.
It’s true, I hadn’t quit anything before- well, except for Brownies in 2nd grade, but that doesn’t count. My mom and I made a joint-decision that we like the cookies way better. I decided to try this experiment and formally withdrew from the class. I felt guilty; I loved my professor and the material and continued to show up to lectures and do the readings. Silly girl. No, I didn’t have to write the final paper, but I felt guilty. I wasn’t happy with this choice and it left a big ‘W’ on my transcript that I had to explain. I felt like I’d disappointed the professor and myself.
Fast-forward almost a decade later… I decided to quit, again. I quickly breezed thru interviews to work with an experiential learning organization based in the Caribbean. The pay was good, the public health focus was right up my alley, but throughout the entire interview process I began to notice signs. Little flinching in my intestines and the unsatisfied feeling of something not being quite right. I asked a lot of questions as always. I knew what I wanted in terms of the role, type of organization and working style. Yet instead of being excited when I received the offer, I felt relieved and then resigned.
You see, I hadn’t worked in almost a year, and at that point I was approaching the whole career thing from a point of desperation and fear. Yes, I’ll take the job, it’s the only one I’ve got right now. So I did it. I jumped and signed on board although my whole-heart wasn’t in it. I couldn’t sleep the entire week before getting on the plane. I snapped at my family. Something was definitely off but I chose to press ahead and ignore it. Save a few K, contribute to my Roth account and then go about my merry way.
Meeting new colleagues and understanding the way the organization functioned, my fears were confirmed. I didn’t agree with their approach and wasn’t down with their community relations. It felt like doing this work would be supporting something that was anti-me. Ideals and perspectives? Didn’t jive. Values? Definitely not aligned. It’s time to go.
I lasted two weeks; they had a group during week one so I thought that would be impolite to leave them totally hanging. I explained that conflicting ideologies made me an inappropriate fit for them. During the first few days on site I knew I had assumed the role already looking for a way out, sure I would quit after my eight-month trial. That’s not the attitude to have going in to a new role. I felt embarrassed and avoided telling friends and family about my new position. It wasn’t right. Deep down I knew it and I was afraid they’d reveal it too. If you are going to work just to get thru the day or taking a job for a paycheck, then it’s not for you.
Certainly there are times when we have to take whatever income is available in order to survive. It is a privilege to be able to take time and reflect in order to find something that works best for you. That said, survival mode is meant to be short-term. Don’t get caught living in fight-flight forever. When you feel ganas, a spark, joyful because of the new opportunity entering your life, that’s when you know it’s right. And in those instances, you can dive head-first, knowing that it’s not fear that’s driving your decision, but love.