Making the Choice to Live My Dream (or Why I Quit My Job During a Recession)

Posted: July 27, 2011 in Featured Content, Jobs and Career
Tags: , , ,

You know what’s crazy? Quitting your full time job in the middle of the biggest, scariest, most horrifying recession of all time. Ummm…yeah, I think that about sums up the news media’s view on the recession/debt/unemployment crisis. I bet each news station even has a specialized logo for each story relating to the “crisis,” like they do during an election year. Perhaps it is a tiny person being crushed by an avalanche of unemployed people who are falling on him while at the same time drowning in a sea of overdue balloon mortgage payments? Anyway, that’s not my point…

My point is that I quit my job this summer.

For five long years, I’ve hung on, telling myself “It’s a paycheck, it has crappy medical insurance, it’s a job for crying out loud!” But you know what I discovered? There’s only so long a person can live with having their soul slowly sucked dry. Maybe it was the dumbest decision I’ve ever made. Call me in two months and ask if I’ve been eating cereal for three meals a day (no milk).

Or maybe….it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. maybe I finally made a decision that took careful, calculated thought, threw it out the window and instead spoke directly with the heart. You see, I have a dream. It’s not on par with Martin Luther King’s dream. In fact, compared with his vision, mine is kind of pathetic.

But that doesn’t matter. You know why? Because this dream is mine. Nobody else has the ability to create my future but me, and the only way I can start is by dreaming about the life I want. I don’t want to wake up every morning and feel like crying before the alarm even stops going off. I don’t want to be so exhausted by 4p.m. every day that I drag myself home and wonder how I will make it to bed time, and then have to get up the next day and do it all again. (If I actually get home at 4, that is. My default was to stay late by at least a half hour most days.)

I know what I described is a reality for many people. And I hate that because I know what it does to your life. You become a miserable person, unable to find the joy or enthusiasm you once had because 40 or more hours of your week are spent in a stressed-out, frustrated haze. Why do we accept that this is normal? Why do we hang on after ignoring the Exit sign time and time again? Well, I can’t speak for everyone. But mine was…FEAR. Big, gigantic, crushing fear. I was literally so scared of facing the consequences of my own choices that I was paralyzed. I tried to quit four times, and then when I critical moment came, every time I sucked it up, went back and spent the year wondering what the hell I was doing.

Not. Fun.

Life isn’t supposed to be fun, you say? Well, I thought so, too. For a very long time. That’s why I held onto a job that was a dead end for me. That’s why I held on to a marriage that was, at best, routine and at worst dysfunctional. And now, on the other side of that, I have to say I disagree. Life IS supposed to be fun. You are supposed to live each day excited about what you are doing, excited about the people you are spending time with, and excited about being you. And if you’re not…well, that’s for you to work out. But I’m realizing more and more that nobody else on this planet will point that out to me. I am the decision maker here. Everything I have done in the past has lead me here…to a life I hate. Thanks, younger and stupider me. Could you not have figured out a few things before now?

Obviously, the things I went through were important, because they brought me here. To the place where I quit my job during a major debt and unemployment crisis. Go me! I rock! But seriously, I don’t particularly care about the media hype. I do care about the people who are going through hard times, because I know how it feels to watch your life crumble right in front of you. But at this moment, I don’t feel like I made a wrong decision. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I finally made a right one. Putting myself through extended misery is not the right choice for me. Plus, I have a plan…in fact several plans…for my career’s future. And I’m so excited by them that I am alternately giddy and completely terrified. And I’m convinced that’s a good place to be.

What about you? Have you ever made a decision that scared you? Did it turn out to be the best decision you could make? Did it backfire? (I hope not!) I’d love to hear any and all comments!

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