2. I had actually been wanting to quit since the first year.
Like most people graduating in the wake of the late ’00s economic crash, I felt grateful I had managed to get a job, even if its connection to my preferred industry was a little tenuous.
3. But even so, I didn’t expect making the decision to quit to be so difficult.
At first, wanting to quit felt ungrateful. And after a while I was flooded with new fears and doubts. Would it be the right thing to do? Am I “giving up” if I quit? Is it too late to start something new?
7. But being stagnant was secretly damaging my self-confidence.
I felt so trapped by my own situation that I didn’t want to risk trying something else. Starting a new career wouldn’t be just a risk for financial reasons. What if I wasn’t good enough at other things to warrant a new career? What if I couldn’t do anything else?
10. Once I was ready to quit, I started worrying about how other people would react. Especially my mother.
My brother had already set a precedent by working for a merchant bank for over a decade. This, coupled with my Indian mother’s inherent thinking that money = success, made me anxious about being viewed as a failure.
11. To my surprise, she was the most supportive of all.
After I burst into tears one day, she said the only thing I ever really needed to hear, from the only person I needed it to hear it from:
“Nothing is worth you feeling like this. Quit your job, quit it now and go do whatever it is that you want. Try something, anything, just don’t try to make this work. I will support you, whatever it takes.”
12. Heeding her advice, I decided to change careers entirely and start from scratch.
Even though this frightened the hell out of me, I was lucky enough to be in a position where it was actually feasible. I didn’t have any kids or anyone reliant on me, I didn’t have a mortgage to pay, and I had a mother ready to open her home to me once more so I didn’t have to live on beans on toast in order to afford my rent. I cannot stress enough how fortunate I was to have the support system in place that many people unfortunately don’t.
13. The thing is, I didn’t want to quit without knowing exactly what I was going to do next.
Not everyone has that lightbulb moment where they know exactly what they’re destined to do. For me and I’m sure many others, I could imagine myself doing a variety of things with no distinct direction or strong inclination. I was sure about one thing, however – that I was definitely not happy in my current role – and that was a good enough starting point.
15. When I no longer wanted what I had wanted for so long, I realised money didn’t mean shit.
Money can only tide you over for so long before that deep sense of dissatisfaction comes creeping to the surface again. Don’t get me wrong, money is important, but it’s not everything and it certainly won’t fill that void.
16. So with this revelation in mind, I applied for an internship.
After figuring out what I enjoyed doing the most (which is always a good place to start, even if you’re not sure what the specific job would be) I found a way to enter the industry of my choice – an internship. This route worried me for several reasons, the most trivial of which was that I would no doubt be working with people fresh out of university. Would I be too old? Would I look silly? Instead of allowing these unhelpful feelings to engulf me, I saw the internship as a do-over, an opportunity to start again – on my terms.
17. Handing in my resignation was one of the few times in my life I was completely sure of myself.
After grappling with my confidence for so long, it felt good to do something I just knew was right, irrespective of the future being completely unknown. Placing that letter in front of me and sliding it over to my boss was a moment I will probably never forget.
24. But in reality, it was all a bit underwhelming.
I counted on feeling a lot of things, but I never really imagined feeling so sad. A chapter of my life was over, and, worst of all, people didn’t really seem to care that much. I was just another leaving do, a great one, a fun one, but ultimately just another person moving on.
25. What I was left with was the stark reality that I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing.
Quitting was liberating and scary in equal measure. I was out of my comfort zone, shitting myself but excited to be doing something new. Sometimes you just have to say “fuck it” and go for something without worrying about whether it works out or not. It can feel scary not knowing what to do, or what’s the “right” thing to do, but the key is to just do something.
26. But actually that was OK because I was working towards something – a better me.
The biggest thing I realised when I quit my job was that I had been lying to myself for so long. I knew I was unsatisfied and unhappy, but I would make excuses and convince myself that I was doing enough to change my life. I’m starting to learn that motion is probably the real key to success. That whether you make a good move or a bad one, it’s important that you just move.
27. And if my new venture doesn’t work out, I have the balls to try again.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, how long I will stay in my new career, whether I’ll actually be successful. What I do know is that for now, I’m happy I’m trying something new, excited about coming into work every day, and feeling driven to try my best. If it doesn’t work out, well, at least I know I have the courage to try again.
28. Because I’ve now learned what I needed to learn this entire time.
That I will make it in whatever it is I want to do – I just need to keep trying, keep moving, keep believing in myself. The biggest mistake I’ve made is that I lied to myself and held myself back. I was my own worst enemy, my biggest obstacle. Not any more.