02/20/2015

Quit playing games with your job

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Dear Quitter,

If you still haven’t shaken off that nagging lack of accomplishment in your life since the morning after graduating university, then… just breathe. Breathe because where you and half the world stand right now is a completely normal state of mind. “Normal? How dare she call my situation ‘normal’ when everyone and their French bulldogs seem to be getting life right?” I know, I know. But their life isn’t yours to begin with. Now, dear Quitter, the first thing you can do is to stop thinking that everyone else has it easy. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can proceed to hold hands while slowly walking into the metaphorical ring of fire that most people know as their very first job. You can enter this fire in many ways: sanguine, naïve, presumptuous. However, putting yourself out there, despite not knowing what to do, will ultimately lead you to question what went in your head that fateful day you agreed to join the work force. Next thing you know, the idea of quitting will be just as tempting as saying “I’m the realest” every time you hear someone say “first thing’s first.”

“Suck it up,” they told me about my first job. So suck it up I did, until the anxieties kicked in and I started looking at everything about my situation as a potential reason to quit. It wasn’t the pay. It wasn’t the people. It wasn’t the workload. What was it then? Compatibility? Fulfillment? Productivity?

Then it dawned on me: I wasn’t as afraid of quitting as much as I was afraid of explaining my decision to other people. That’s what drove me around the middle of nowhere for the longest time: fear. Fear of getting into a job, of getting out of one, of opinionated know-it-alls, and of being deemed a failure by the people I love. But I just had to do it. I had to because I knew myself more than anyone else did. The world gives far too much advice about not quitting your job because “it doesn’t look good on paper.” Well, I say screw it. Who in the right mind would allow a piece of paper to define them? Not you, Quitter. Not you.

Quit with optimism, not defeat. Although I do have to warn you that optimism has an expiration date — keep restocking. You will never get to fully direct how everything goes in your life, but you do have the power to control how you react to it. It was choosing between bouncing to the next (supposedly) perfect job or riding the waves of (not-so-fun) “funemployment” that sooner or later led me to a hard-hitting moment of realization: a job can never define me as long as I don’t let it. What I do for a living and how I work are two very different things.

I’m not suggesting that quitting is always the way to go. It is not a panic button in which your feelings dictate your choices. It was being placed right smack where I am most useful that led me to experience the seemingly little things that were larger than life and far from anything within the constraints of “achievement” or “success.” It then became a matter of simply holding myself accountable for what I could create with it.

Paulo Coelho once said, “Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.” So quit, dear Quitter, but make sure to keep knocking.

 

#NoRagrets,

Issa

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