Skip To Content

    People Are Sharing The Moment They Realized They Had To Quit Their Job, And It's Incredibly Eye-Opening

    "My boss was a monster and the highest-ranked leader for our market."

    One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it gave everyone more time on their hands to think and possibly figure out what really makes them happy in life.

    For some, that included quitting their jobs to find something else more fulfilling and rewarding.

    A person carrying a box of items out of their office after quitting their job
    Hxyume / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via Getty Images

    It was reported that 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August — and that's not including the record-high number of people who also gave their two-week notice to their employers in the spring and early summer of this year. It's been called "The Great Resignation." 

    Hearing these numbers sparked our curiosity, so we turned to the BuzzFeed Community and asked them to explain what prompted them to quit their jobs within the last year or two —and what they are doing now instead. Here are their stories.

    1. "I have changed jobs twice during the pandemic. The first was being planned before the pandemic started because I was getting no opportunity for career growth, but the second I only stayed in for nine months."

    A man standing while yelling at a woman who is sitting at her desk looking stressed
    Ljubaphoto / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "My boss was a monster and the highest-ranked leader for our market. He consistently berated people for having any responsibility outside of work and did not understand why anyone would be unwilling to work 60–80 hours a week. I switched careers and am now extremely happy and working for a company who puts culture above all else, plus I was able to get a small raise in the process."


    2. "I left my job as a high school math teacher in December 2020. I had been teaching for five years in an inner city school and was already struggling with stress and anxiety."

    "When I began teaching over Zoom, I reached my breaking point. I’m sure other teachers can relate to the immense workload we were given with very little resources. It was beyond exhausting. 

    "The environment in my school had always been toxic, but the pandemic really pushed it over the edge. I now work for a publishing company as a math editor. I use all the same skills I learned while teaching, but I now apply it to designing curriculum instead of teaching it. Leaving teaching was 100% the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so much happier and healthier now. Not to mention, my benefits are way better."


    3. "I worked at a popular grocery chain, Publix, here in Florida for nine years. When the pandemic hit and the customer service industry turned into utter madness — panic buying, rude customers, corporate management’s lack of concern for their associates' safety and well-being (written up and reprimanded for calling out sick) — I made the decision to leave customer service behind. It was the best decision I could have made for myself."

    The outside of a Publix grocery story
    Jeff Greenberg / Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I now work for a medical cannabis company and I couldn’t be happier or more stress-free. The pandemic may be horrible in many ways, but it did give me the push I needed to get out of a thankless and dead-end career."


    4. "I was in the healthcare field, not front lines but still coming into contact with patients every day. The amount of abuse we had to take from patients because the new owners of the company didn't think COVID was a big deal or didn't want us to lose patients by telling them to put on a mask was not worth it."

    "My company tried to give me a raise to stay. That's when I found out they had been underpaying me the two years I worked for them. No thanks. Now, I work in telecommunications. I get to sit at home and work from a laptop. I will never work with the general public again."


    5. "I had been stuck in a hospitality job for years in a very toxic workplace."

    A man pouring a drink into a glass
    Kemal Yildirim / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "When we shut down for COVID, it was the kick I needed to say ‘I’m never coming back.' I enrolled in school to get my bachelor's in archaeology, and I absolutely love the challenge and the prospect of a more stimulating career (with less asshole customers and colleagues!)."


    6. "I left my job because I had a baby and even though people were working remotely, my company was pretty rigid and wouldn’t work with me to work out a way I could cut back hours or go part-time."

    "I left and started my own practice, and have never looked back! Best thing I have ever done."


    7. "I was a preschool teacher. I left after they cut my full-time hours down to only three hours a day."

    Hands putting a shoe on a little kid's foot
    Oscar Wong / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I decided to take a leave because I had a 30-minute commute with two kids. I already wasn’t seeing my own kids all day. It just wasn’t worth it anymore. After being home for about four months, I began nannying for two families I knew from work and did so for almost a year. In August, I returned to work as a Montessori school assistant. I’m thrilled to be doing something new and learning a new way to be a teacher."


    8. "I'm a former nursing home employee in charge of activities. I was thinking about leaving in the spring and summer of 2021, but the deal breaker was finding out a PRN coworker was making more than me."

    "I was at that place for more than a year before this coworker started. I'm making more money now. The job I have is a lot less stressful and a lot more fun."


    9. "I quit my job when I realized I was replaceable. I always felt like I was a valuable asset to my company, so I worked too hard and chained myself to my desk."

    A woman stretching at her desk in front of a computer and laptop
    Stefan Tomic / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I thought I was being rewarded for the 60-hour work weeks, but I was actually being taken advantage of. I started waking up with anxiety about my job, going to bed thinking about my job, only talking to friends and family about my job. It wasn't healthy. So I quit. And the company replaced me. I do the same thing now, but I set boundaries and my workload is 100 times more manageable."


    10. "I worked in management in a client-facing role in social care for 15 years. It was hard and thankless, and after being made to work a week in a home full of COVID-positive people, I decided to leave."

    "The stress and anxiety about my own safety was crippling and something I still struggle with now. I have since begun working in social work coordination and childhood sexual trauma. I work from home and I am so much happier, more productive, and developing my career further. If you go home at the end of the day wondering if anyone is grateful that you showed up, stop showing up!"


    11. "I was a senior veterinary nurse at the start of the pandemic and became an EMT to help the healthcare system. I was good at my previous job, but I was overworked and underpaid in a heartbreaking job."

    Two EMT workers moving someone on a stretcher into an ambulance
    Xavierarnau / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "By becoming an EMT, I felt like I was doing SOMETHING to help with the pandemic. Now I'm making more (still under $15/hr) and have less daily stress. I'm debating upgrading to paramedic for the money. I don't take extra shifts and don't answer work calls on my day off. The pandemic has shown me that nothing is more important than my husband and our home together. It's sad that it took all of this to finally break me free of being a workaholic martyr."


    12. "I left my government job because I realized I couldn’t sit at a desk, staring at a computer screen all day, for the next 40 years of my life."

    "So I’ve gone back to school to retrain as an occupational therapist. I’ll be making a real difference in people’s lives. My advice to anyone thinking about it? Do it."


    13. "I left my job as the general manager of a popular vegan restaurant in my city. We didn’t close a single day (other than Christmas) once the pandemic hit. We were short staffed, overworked, and expectations weren’t adjusted to match the climate we were in."

    A worker in a cafe standing at a computer screen
    Lourdes Balduque / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I ended up being diagnosed with a disorder that I don’t think would have shown itself if it weren’t for the stress I was under. The last straw was when they tried to write me up for not going in on my one day off after having already worked 60+ hours that week. I called them out on it since they advocate for work-life balance and being about its people. I was leaving regardless, but they paid me out so I wouldn’t take it to any labor authorities.

    "Silver lining: I used that money to get my personal training certification, which I had thought about doing for over a decade. I finally did it and got an awesome job at my favorite gym and feel like an entirely different (and happy) person."


    14. "I was working in retail when the pandemic hit. My breaking point was when I came in and found out a coworker had called out. I was expected to run and close my department by myself with no one to cover my breaks."

    "Which is illegal in my state, by the way. There was somebody who could have been sent over to help me that day, but management refused and basically said I was on my own. I couldn’t stop crying and having panic attacks for about five hours. Then when it came time for my lunch, I just said fuck it, left and never looked back. That was four months ago. Best decision I ever made. 

    I work in healthcare now, the environment isn’t toxic, and I haven’t had a work-related panic attack since."


    15. "I had been in child care for five years and was even getting my degree in early learning and child care."

    A teacher standing next to a table of children drawing
    South_agency / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "Once the pandemic hit, I changed daycares. But in the end — with the pandemic and awful management not understanding the risks, and two mental health leaves — I quit it completely. I now work at a dog groomer, and I am so happy."


    16. "I worked for an apartment management company for five years. During the pandemic, we were given no support at all, no real WFH options, and constant exposure to college kids who refused to wear masks."

    "We also did not get hazard pay. I was already miserable, but that was my final straw. I left for a job in a completely different field and have not looked back! I will never work for an employer who doesn’t treat me with basic human dignity again."


    17. "I worked in restaurants/bars for more than 10 years. The pandemic closed my restaurant and it finally gave me a reason to never look back."

    A waitress holding a pad and pen in her hands
    Willie B. Thomas / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I missed a lot of family events and catching up with friends working opposite schedules, and I have never felt more free — plus, I love my job! I never thought I’d have the heart to quit bartending, but when it closed, it gave me all the reason to start applying to other jobs. Now, I bartend weddings as a side gig on my schedule when I want to."


    18. "I had worked for a company providing services to families of children with autism for five years. During the pandemic, the workplace culture kept getting more and more toxic."

    "When I tried to mention my concerns to my boss and ideas to help, it was ignored. Now, I work for a county ISD supporting children with behavioral challenges. I feel appreciated again."


    19. "I worked at a childcare center for three years, splitting my shift between childcare and reception/admin work."

    A woman sitting at a desk working on her laptop
    Alistair Berg / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "I was about to receive an offer from my dream job doing admin work for a synagogue when the pandemic hit and they had to withhold the offer because they were no longer going to be able to finance my salary there. So I stayed at the childcare center, but it inspired me to start looking elsewhere. The poor pay, the extra responsibilities I was expected to take on with no increase in pay, the long, hard days with the kids, the exposure risks — it all made it very hard to stay.

    "I left a year ago and am now working at a clothing manufacturer for way more money than I ever made working with the kids. And as part of my job, I've made thousands upon thousands of face masks that are helping keep people safe out there, which is extremely gratifying."


    20. "I left my job as a preschool teaching assistant because no one took COVID seriously there."

    "It was before the vaccine had come out, and masks weren’t required. The last straw was when my boss said she was having her wedding with more than 100 people at her house and planned to come to work the next day. I quit the next week. Now, I work as a special education paraprofessional at a school that actually takes COVID seriously, which is a breath of fresh air."


    21. "I was a manager in charge of three employees. The company kept selling assets and eventually a new CEO was brought in and decided to cut all departments by 35%."

    A woman sitting at her laptop looking stressed
    Peopleimages / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

    "My entire team was let go and it was expected for me to do all the work myself with no raise. I left two weeks later for a similar job in a lower level analyst position while getting paid $25K more annually."


    22. "I left my job of 10 years because I was tired of the retail industry."

    "Tired of being so busy around the holidays, I would dread them instead of enjoying them. I found a similar job at a company in a completely different industry and have been much happier. I’m actually looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas."


    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

    Did you leave your job during the pandemic? If so, what are you up to now? What advice do you have for others who might want to make a similar move? Tell us in the comments below.