One morning I woke up and thought, Another day of misery. I met each morning with dread, my heart plummeting from my chest and onto my bowels. I had felt that way for a long time, but it took until that morning to realize I needed to quit my job.
Of course, the realization didn’t occur immediately. I wasn’t suddenly struck with conviction, certain I was unhappy — no. It was a slow process, dissatisfaction piled on top of another, until I was drowning in a heap of unhappiness. The signs were there. I simply needed to heed them.
I used to wake up each morning eager to work. I rose before my alarm clock, anticipating the start of a new day. I arrived at the office early, exchanging pleasantries with coworkers. I loved even the most trivial parts of the job: scanning my ID to enter the building, lanyard bumping against my chest as I headed for the break room; preparing notes for Monday meetings, rolling my chair to get from one desk to another.
As time passed, I became less eager to work. In fact, I hated Mondays for ripping me from the weekend, the only days when I felt happy. Sometimes, I would awaken in the middle of the night, heart thumping in panic, realizing that tomorrow I needed to return to the office.
Learning is a lifetime endeavor. You either grow and progress or remain stagnant. Although most of my growth occurred during my time at the company, I eventually hit a wall. I was working with people who knew nothing about my line of work. My supervisors were not in the same field as me, so they couldn’t provide critical feedback that would help me improve my skills. Because I worked at a company where no one else could do what I did, I never had a mentor who could guide me to the right path.
Because the company was small with a tight budget, there was no opportunity to grow. Departments never expanded, and there were often not enough resources to hire new talent. That meant the role I had was a role from which I would never progress. Because there was nowhere to move, I felt trapped. I imagined remaining in that same role for years to come, never to get a promotion, never to lead a big team, which I had aspired to do.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with working at a small company, but it wasn’t for me. I was like a plant outgrowing its pot, needing open land where my roots could flourish, unbound.
During social events, people would often ask me what I did for work. I give them a simple answer: I work for so and so doing this and that. At this moment, my partner would interject, listing all of my major accomplishments at the company. The work I’ve done may seem impressive, but I had grown so apathetic that even my best accomplishments felt inconsequential. I ceased to feel proud of my work.
Hating a Former Passion
My career choice isn’t exactly the most lucrative. In fact, I work in a highly competitive industry that often doesn’t pay well. Nonetheless, I pursued it not for money but for passion. As time passed, work felt less like a passion and more like a dreaded task. What used to come naturally felt like pulling teeth.
Dissatisfaction can simmer for weeks, for months — even years— until it finally boils over, one hot soupy mess all over your black stove, until you’re finally spurred to action — and that’s okay. Unhappiness is peppered with moments of contentment: Some days are bad, others are good. You think to yourself, it will get better. Quitting your job shouldn’t be done out of impulse. It takes careful consideration, staring straight into what you stand to lose: stability, income, health insurance. But if your happiness is at stake…well, you can’t put a price on that.