The 6th (Job) Extinction
I was standing at the edge of the abyss yet again.
The possibility of braving unemployment for a second time within one year, of leaving the sixth job in my meandering career, of sifting through career sites and tweaking my resume on a regular basis, was staring me in the face.
I already had a paying job, great coworkers, and health insurance. I’d be trading this for a severance check at best, long hours by myself, and looking around each corner to ensure I don’t hurt myself while uninsured. I didn’t want to have to go through the pain, uncertainty, and overall stress that awaited me if I was unemployed.
That’s why quitting my job was both one of the easiest and one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my career. I decided to take that jump and see if I even landed somewhere (and land I did, but I’ll get to that).
The storm had been brewing in my mind for a long time. I just could never wrap my mind around the technical aspects that my previous job entailed, and the deeper I got into the role, the deeper I felt like I was sinking with an anchor tied around my ankle. I couldn’t fight it, but rather had to just put my head down and suffer through the long hours, angry customers, and multiple requests. Granted, my team and coworkers were amazing, and being in the trenches with them go me through many long days, but my caliber didn’t match theirs.
I was hitting my limit of endurance. I began weighing staying in my job, just dealing with it and hoping to see the light at the tunnel, or jumping off the tracks and trying to make it out there on my own. The work piled up, the issues deepened, and the cracks in my work widened. I watched as my coworkers, some of them hired after me, increased their understanding of the systems.
They were running in the street, while I was stuck in the sidewalk’s wet cement.
Then one day, a week after my birthday, I hit my wall, the piece of straw, the final nail. It was a brutal day, one filled with an avalanche of tickets by noon and a phone call that gives me PTSD to this day. I had had enough, so I quit.
I actually quit.
I still don’t understand what was going through my head when I made that decision. I’d gone for a long walk and came back, ready to avoid a candid, straightforward chat with my manager. But she sat down and flat out asked me if I even enjoyed this job. It was at this that I saw a path diverge, a fork in the road. I could have lied and plodded along, hating myself and this job that I clearly wasn’t a fit for. Or I could be honest with her, and, more importantly, myself, and finally admit out loud that this just wasn’t going to work.
So that is what I did. I put myself out there and felt ecstatic about it.
It wasn’t until I walked out of work with the chip on my shoulder that I realized just what I’d committed myself to. Sure, I was away from a job that wasn’t meant to be, but what exactly was the next step? I was facing unemployment yet again, the heartbreak and stress that comes to dominate your life when jobless. I was facing the abyss yet again. And I was scared shitless when that settled in.
Granted, I was in a decent spot by the time I decided to quit; I’d already made it through two rounds in the interviews with my next job, and was fairly certain that that was the job I wanted. But that’s not why I write about the painful uncertainty I faced by quitting. In fact, I really don’t have much room to stand on in doling out advice, and that’s not the point of this blog anyway. I’m not on a soapbox, but rather one of the guys in the crowd who showed up thinking they were giving out free soap.
All I can say is that if you ever find yourself wondering what the next step is, trying to figure out what’s missing in your career, follow that thread. It may lead to a bit of unravelling, but in the end you may find the core of what you’re looking for, whatever that may be.
In the meantime, it's onward to Helena for me!
Beer I drank – Single Malt IPA by Blackfoot River Brewing
Song I heard – Burn by Branches