Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Ode to Quitting

“I should be doing more, I should be toughing it out, really we are talking about first-world problems here, it’s not like I’m being tortured or anything. I should just take my paycheque and be quiet,” I argued to myself the night before I quit my job.

I seemed unable to shake this ever-present guilt and doubt about following through with my decision. Logically, I knew I was fully justified in my reasons to quit and recognized it was time for me to move on from the company. This is not the life that I want to live. Am I an irresponsible person or a selfish wife for leaving a stable position to jump into something unknown, something new? What if I landed flat on my face while everyone else around me continued to take off? Would I regret this move if it turned out to be a huge risk that didn’t pay off?

Not at all. The answer began as a whisper but transformed into a too-strong-to-ignore response as time went on. The thought of another six months, far less two more years, made me want to jump out of my boss’ window arms flailing in the air behind me (my position did not justify an office, far less an office with a window, as my manager liked to remind me). Seeing as how his office was located on the first floor, I opted to avoid the decidedly overdramatic yet underwhelming exit and just hand over my resignation letter instead.

It’s okay to quit things in life, despite what others may mislead you to believe
People leave their jobs all the time, it’s not that big of a deal! You’re young, it’s time to move on, you’ll be fine. Why do you feel so guilty about quitting?

Remember when you were working that awful summer job in retail and your co-worker turned supervisor reared her hypocritical power-hungry head the second she got promoted? She began to chastise you every time you worked together then she started pulling Mean Girls-esque drama at work and reprimanded you (loudly) on the floor for something she did herself. During that drama a shoplifter stole hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise and again that supervisor tried to blame you. You wrote your resignation letter on the register receipt paper and, for the first and only time in your life, quit on the spot. That felt pretty good. 

Then there was the time you quit your relationship with that guy you were dating because he was always paranoid that you were too good for him and you’d leave him for someone else. You had to assure him of your feelings every day and that shit got annoying real fast. Being jealous and controlling are not good characteristics of a healthy relationship and you trusted yourself to jump ship when it became necessary. That was a smart move.

Or, as minor as it was, how about that time you quit subscribing for your overpriced cable TV service and cut down on your other household and shopping expenses so you could build a savings fund to go backpacking for four months in Central America? That was only a small act of quitting but still it felt pretty satisfying.

These are a few examples of times that you quit and they turned out to be for the best, when you were listening to your gut and you were right. You trusted yourself then, so trust yourself now. Quitting doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it simply means you’ve changed your mind.

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Despite the reliable paycheque, you know that you were not put on this earth to work in a windowless grey office nook day after day and listen to your hallway neighbour’s cackling laughter and passive aggressive comments, freezing in air conditioning while sitting at your desk under fluorescent lights doing business-like things to make money for people who didn’t always treat you very respectfully and whose office politics left you with an unfortunate reminder of what high school frenemies were like. 

In fact, after much introspection you now know that the deepest issue was not that job in particular but the idea of never being free to pursue other passions and possibilities because you were too busy making money for somebody else on their terms to pay your bills, living for weekends and your 10 days of vacation each year, until you could finally retire and go explore the world. Remember that soul-sucking feeling that would sometimes overwhelm you driving home from work at the end of a long day when you couldn’t see an end in sight for yourself? How gut-wrenchingly sad you would feel knowing you had to go back in and do the same thing all over again and again? Some call that sort of permanence “security” but it felt decidedly more imposing to you.

Quitting means being brave enough to recognize the warning signals before those aspects of your life become sources of long-term unhappiness. 


Let’s talk about that time you were introduced to an American Marine from Tennessee who, on the first weekend he met you, pledged that he would move to Canada for you. You just had to date for two years in an across-the-world-long-distance relationship then decide who would move to the other’s country, but then you’d be able to be together. Something made you say yes and things turned out pretty well. In fact, you ended up marrying that guy, so maybe you know more than you think.

So here’s to change and following the path that will bring you growth, fresh opportunities, inspiration, and contentment. Cheers to being brave enough to listen to your heart, even when that means going against the norm. Maybe you don’t have to make sense of every maybe right now. Just wake up tomorrow and shake off the guilt, then say those two magic words.



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34 comments:

  1. This is my favorite post ever. I love your spirit, and I think more people should follow your advice. Truth is, it isn't always about the paycheck! In fact, I think a lot of people would be happier with a smaller paycheck. It seems counterintuitive, I know. But being happy at the end of the day IS priceless. XO

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    1. Aimee thank you so much for your sweet words. While the size of the paycheque can certainly make a difference, you're right - there's so much more to it than that! The weight and stress that's been lifted off my shoulders this month feels incredible.

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    2. I can only imagine!

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    3. You will feel that feeling soon enough ;) And then we will drink copious amounts of expensive tequila and celebrate your PhD until our eyelids won't stay open anymore :D

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  2. Danielle - I admire you so much, you are wise well beyond your years and have incredible perspective. I'm sure there is a lot of fear bubbling up but you are being true to yourself and it will all work out. Even better than you could've imagined. I'm so proud of you!

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    1. Wow Alison, I don't know what to say except thank you thank you thank you <3 Fortunately the fear dissipated once I acted on my decision, but July and August were very trying months. Now I'm just trying to get my next steps in order to help this transition time work out a bit smoother. Fingers crossed everything will work out as you predicted :) Positive thinking yields positive action, right?

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  3. I commend you on just being able to say this .. It's never about the paycheque.. We should be passionate about what we do. Wishing you and Matthew the very best with your life long journey. Just love you guys. It's not quitting, it's leaving a chapter of your life to enjoy the heck out of your future xoxo

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    1. That's exactly it - following your passion is so important and a huge factor on whether we find value in the work that we're doing. Thank you for your sweet wishes Candice!! And I love how you phrased that last line, "It's not quitting, it's leaving a chapter of your life to enjoy the heck out of your future". Took the words right outta my mouth :)

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  4. You are so inspirational Danielle! I love it. :-) I had a bad habit of quitting my jobs which is probably why I've had so many since my first job at 15. I haven't done that in the last 6 years because it looks better on my resume. :-/ I wish I can quit now but the way that these student loan payments are set up...

    Mo

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    1. Oh I feel ya the stress of student loans as well! Fortunately we don't have to factor them in until next year, but it makes it a lot harder to be flexible in life when you owe $$ to the government :S I was initially worried about how it would look "jumping around" or having a huge gap on my resume while we are travelling, but I've come to realize that your typical corporate job isn't for me anymore. Here's a really inspiring article that initially prompted the possibility of "escaping" when I first came across it. Worth the read if you have a few minutes!! http://sillygrrl.com/2012/05/22/the-escape/

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    2. I just read the article! It was inspiring as well. :-)

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  5. Great post. These thoughts have been going on in my head for a while now to the point that people are asking me if I quit yet. It does take a lot of courage.....someday

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    1. Absolutely, anything that requires you to leap into the unknown requires courage in yourself and confidence that you're ready and able to make the change. And if you're not ready to make the leap quite yet, that's okay too. It took months of contemplation for me to finally commit to what I wanted to do. But don't be afraid to consider and act on new possibilities, you'll never know what could be unless you put yourself out there!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Danielle. I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. I mean, if you're finding yourself dreading your life every moment of the day, it's something clearly worth re-evaluating. You deserve to be happy and find fulfillment in your work and life. My husband left his job of 10 years to pursue something completely different. He had to go back to school and take all these insanely difficult exams, but I've noticed that he's a different person because he now has something valuable worth working for. It's amazing how your life can change when you know you're on a better path :) I admire your courage! keep it up! We are here to support you :)

    Christy
    Sunnywithasideof...

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    1. Amen to that Christy! You're right, what good is life if you're too miserable to enjoy it! That's so good to hear that you and your husband are making it work as he's pursuing his new career path. Following your passion makes such a difference. My husband commented as well that I've been a much happier person over the past couple of weeks, smiling, laughing, and generally being much more cheerful. Thank you for your support and encouragement as I continue to try and figure things out, it is very appreciated!

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  7. I love this post - so poignant and well written. I applaud you for quitting. Sometimes quitting really is the right thing to do - even though we have always been taught it is the right thing. But life is too short to be miserable everyday. So happy for you!

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    1. Quitting tends to have such a negative connotation associated with it, but yes sometimes it really is the right thing and there shouldn't be any shame with that. It's normal to grow and change our minds, right? Thanks for the support Ashley!

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  8. Wow! You are so inspirational Danielle. For one I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. When you do something in life you have to be passionate at it or you won't be as productive as you could be. I applaud you for quitting am so glad you are having fun again and enjoying yourself. Being happy is what life is about and It saddens me that some people just glide through life unhappy. Although, I wouldn't have the courage to do something so drastic I am glad someone like you who would exists. Best of luck.

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    1. Aw thank you Donald! That means a lot that you find me inspirational - I am blown away by this lovely response! Don't sell yourself short, by the way, about whether or not you'd have the courage to make a bold move. You're a smart goal-driven guy... in fact I'd say opening your own business at 17 years old is a pretty drastic move, so maybe you're more courageous than you think... ;)

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  9. I absolutely LOVE this and will be sharing with a few coworkers of mine who are all miserable at work like me. :)

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    1. Oh no, that sucks to hear you guys are all miserable at work. Hopefully this post can perk you guys up for when it's your turn! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Wonderful perspective, you definitely get the notion of following your gut! Enjoy your new journey!
    http://www.robincharmagne.com/blog

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    1. Hi Robin! It was a bit of a struggle but a decision that I'm very at peace with now, so that's always a good thing :) Thanks for the well wishes!

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  11. Wow, this is a really great post! I don't even know if I have words to articulate my thoughts about it. I love how it's almost you talking yourself into it, into comforting yourself about a scary decision you made. I think this is the hard part about being an adult -- there's so much uncertainty and with that uncertainty, there are trade-offs. You leave a sense of security but the soul-killing environment for the uncertain possibility of passion and invigorating life. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. But either way, it'll be a learning experience. And I think that for you, it'll be worth it. For you, you're seeing how other times when you listened to your gut in this way, it was telling you the same thing. That sometimes, logic isn't enough -- sometimes you have to just follow what you feel and that opens doors that need to be opened just for you. It isn't easy being unconventional or going against tradition, but it's what we need sometimes. Bravo to you and I hope that you stand strong in your decision and go bravely into the great unknown! :)

    --Erika
    http://www.chimerikal.com

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    1. Thank you Erika!! That is so sweet of you. So far I am standing strong and loving it :) My family has also been super supportive of my decision which is such a help. I've never had to defend my feelings and their support, along with the incredible encouragement I've received on the blog, have been so wonderful and empowering and encouraging. My soul feels a lot better these days... :)

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  12. I love this post. This was me four years ago right as I was about to quit my soul-sucking job with office politics and a former supervisor who told a friend she hoped I died in a fiery car wreck when I was late to work one morning. I had no idea what awaited me in quitting and selling everything I had and moving, but at that point, I needed that leap, no matter where I landed.

    And it worked out for the very best of the best, as I also see it worked out for you.

    So yay, I'm so proud!

    Amy
    http://notquitearunner.blogspot.com

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    1. Wow that sounds like such an extreme work place, I'm so happy you got outta there! That's insane that your supervisor would say something like that. It looks like you're in a much better place with John at your side now!

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  13. Ok - You are an insanely amazing writer. I was seriously captivated from beginning to end. There is so much strength, power, determination, fight, and passion in this post. I just wanna scream AMEN! Haha, I know that sounds ridiculous but what you say resonates so deeply to me as truth! Thank you for sharing! So excited to start following you :)

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    1. Katie, let me just tell you how much you brightened up my Tuesday night getting all of your comment notifications!! I am so happy to hear that this post resonates with you. It's one of those pieces that I really poured my heart into and, though it took a few weeks longer to publish than I'd initially planned, I am so grateful of the kind of response it has solicited. Thank you for your kind words!!

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  14. I just plain love this, Danielle! It takes such courage to quit something that you know, in your heart of hearts, is absolutely not for you--especially if that something came with a stable paycheck! I pride myself in being a person that follows through with things but the times that I have consciously chosen to quit something have always brought such relief AND allowed me to open doors to places I could never have imagined. I need to remember that small acts of courage are the perfect practicing ground for those big acts of courage--quitting a job you hate, standing up for something you believe, etc. Great post!

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    1. Hi Amy, thank you for your kind comment! It took a while to build the courage but you are so right when you say the small acts are the perfect practicing opportunities. I feel a lot of guilt whenever I back out of something but as I mentioned in the post, I learned that changing my mind isn't necessarily a bad thing. At what point do we allow ourselves to take a step back and re-evaluate our situations, especially when that means not continuing with a draining job or practice? I think that as long as you do the best you can while you can, that's all we can hold ourselves to.

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  15. Hi Danielle, it was a pleasure reading this post. I've read this at a very timely point where we are making incredibly difficult decisions in the pursuit of what we think is the right things to do and in the hope of new beginnings. I know you know how difficult that can be. Its good to be brave and hopefully the brave will see the light! Ann x

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    1. Hi Ann, yes I definitely know how difficult that can be! Sending you strength and courage as you figure out your next steps.

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