Do you know what’s scary? You know that paralysis of fear that you feel right before the drop of a rollercoaster? Or the gut wrenching anxiety when you walk into a hospital? That moment of desperation when you swerve quickly to avoid a fatal collision? We each have our own definitions of fear. For me, losing your job is scary, but what’s worse is staying in your job.
Two weeks ago, I quit my job. What I do is not impressive, and it’s not particularly well paid. In fact, it is minimum wage and it has made me miserable every day for the last 8 months. The sensible thing to do would be to line another job up before quitting, but there’s a moment of content peacefulness that comes when you reach your limit. I knew that enough was enough, and had I not done it then I am not sure I ever would have.
I was good at my job, I knew the details of the trade and I never left a job half done. But I was bored. I was left feeling unsatisfied and undervalued. A confession I made was that I felt like I was above the job. That’s an admission we should never make (at least not in public), but after graduating last year and falling into this job purely to leave my hometown, I haven’t been able to follow my career path of becoming a journalist. I took a job at a local bar in order to make ends meet and to live my own independent life. It worked, for a while. I never made enough money to do anything other than get by, but I was able to pay rent and live freely. The loss of my freedom was more scary to me than the idea of working a job that I was overqualified for, it was scarier to me than an unstable work schedule and shots of Jager Meister soaked through my shoes. I have written an avalanche of job applications, I have done whatever I have needed to but I have never been able to escape my position of pouring pints of Guinness for overly rude and unsatisfied customers who think they are Irish when they are not.
I have been at this job for 1 year and 3 months, and I will finish tomorrow. I had been pushed to my limits with this particular employment, and faced a lot of obstacles during my time there. These jobs that we take after graduation have an expiry date, and I feared that it would hurt my resume more than improve it. I have worked waitressing jobs before, and I know how to brag about my wealth of social experience and skills in my resume, but I look like an underachiever. I didn’t want to work my way up in the hospitality business, I did not want to be a manager. What I wanted, was to write. My moment of clarity came because of a work accident that never got taken seriously. I had taken a fall in the bar the week before, and although it was probably a comical moment for any spectator, on top of a long term back problem I now had a severely sprained purple ankle to accessorise it with. I worked 2 split shifts followed by a regular 8 hour shift, and I could barely walk home at the end of each night. This job had literally become a hazard to my health. Without the money to pursue post graduate education, and without the promise of a job in journalism even after all my hard work, I walked into the office and handed my boss my handwritten letter of resignation.
Not one person told me I made the wrong decision, not even her. She told me there was not a better decision I could have made for myself. I don’t have a job waiting for me, and after next month, I don’t have a paycheck to pay the rent. It could be called a rash decision. Maybe an unstable moment of desperation. It can be called a reckless mistake. How will I do it? I don’t know, but I know what’s even scarier than not having money – accepting a life of unhappiness, dreading your work day, and settling for less than you deserve.
I’ll spend my days investing in my blog, working on my personal brand, and emailing brands, companies, and media corporations that may want to work with me. I’ll even do some unpaid work placements. If nothing happens, I’ll have to find a job making over priced coffees, to at least pay the bills. If there is one skill I do have, it is frothing the milk for cappuccinos.
I’ll make it happen, even if I have to suffer for a while. It will make for the best writing material, and I’ll have some stories to tell one day. At that moment when I walked out of the office, I didn’t feel the uneasy fear or panic, and I didn’t look back. Like I said, not one person told me I made the wrong decision- not even myself.