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Most people do not walk away from their jobs. Especially during a recession. I witnessed countless people getting fired and laid off from their jobs last year. One of my dear friends from my former job was called into the conference room and let go a few weeks before I decided to leave my job. I saw the pain in her eyes as she wept, wondering how she was going to pick up the pieces from such a devastating loss. I hugged her and tears fell down my cheek as well. Because I too, worried about her sanity after something that was such a big part in her life was being ripped away from her.
Despite hundreds of thousands of people and my dear friend being laid off last year, I decided to voluntarily join the party. I remember the day clearly. I was scheduled to return to work after a weeks vacation. During that vacation I went back and forth about what I was about to do. I cried, I screamed, I smiled, I worried, and on the morning of March 21st, 2011 (the day before I was scheduled to return to work), I wrote a heart felt letter to my boss and colleagues notifying them of my resignation. I did not return to work for my final two weeks because I sensed that in doing so, they would have tried to talk me out of my decision and leaving my job of 7 years was something that I had to do for myself.
I am sure that a lot of you would think that my decision was impulsive, irrational, and down right stupid. I have a high school education, no college degree, and was leaving a promising job in finance. I had perfect credit, an excellent work ethic, and was in the running to become a leader within my group. So I am sure you are thinking … What the hell was I thinking? You see, to understand my decision you have to understand what kind of person I am. I sometimes like to step out on blind faith. I don't know the whole picture sometimes, but I do have an idea of the way I want my life to be. I sometimes go where other people are afraid to go. And even if I know there is going to be pain involved I face it anyway because the learning is much more to me than the pain.
What I DID NOT Want
What I didn't want was to be confined to a cubicle (five sometimes six days a week), driving home in an hour's traffic, eating dinner in a coma like state, going to bed disgruntled, to wake up and YIPPEE… do it all over again. I did not want to be monitored on the time I walked through the doors, monitored on how long I spent in the bathroom, and monitored on how long I took for lunch. I did not want my performance to be based on the amount products I sold when my real talents lied in helping the customers and providing solutions to some of their financing or funding issues. I was excellent with customer service and had two awards to prove it. I had a talent for listening and relating to people and the job kept trying to mold me into a sales person.
What I DID Want
I wanted to be recognized for the talent and skills I did possess and not molded into something I wasn't. What I did want, was the freedom to roam and do things that way I wanted to do them. I am somewhat of the kind of person that likes to walk to the beat of their own drum. Not that I can't be told what to do. I am actually quite obedient and will listen to those in authority about 95 percent of the time. I was always a good student, turning all my work in on time, listening and being a good child and favorable employee, but there was a drive inside me that needed me to be more individual and in charge of my own destiny. It is that rebellious part of me that I have struggled with throughout my entire life and that I struggled with the day I decided to turn in my resignation.
The War Between Security and Independence
Let me be clear. Quitting my job was not an easy thing to do. I had an apartment to pay for, a luxury car, a mountain of loans (all of which resided with my employer), and certain cravings that I needed fulfilled (my coke habit – coca cola folks). Silly of me to think that I could walk out with $2000 in savings, a dream, and actually survive. Yes, that's it. $2000 is all I had in my primary savings account to help me through this resignation.
PAUSE AND LAUGH OUT LOUD I KNOW YOU WANT TO
There was a part of me that was itching to leave and follow my dreams. There was a part of me that was itching to do my own thing and find my own way. There was a part of me that was itching to explore something different. And there was a part of me that was worrisomely saying "Take your a** back to your cubicle, pay your bills, have a coke and a smile, and shut the f*ck up. I had started an all out war between these two side of me by quitting my job.
It Gets Worse
So there I was, Ms.$2000, high school educated, no college degree, leaving a job with a secure footing, to go on a journey to… Where? Who knows? I had not the slightest idea where I was headed. All I knew is that I didn't want to be there. Fast forward a few months and all of my loans are delinquent, my beautiful car is being repossessed, my niece is about to be born and I had not a damn dime to my name. No jobs calling me back, no opportunities unfolding, no dreams budding, and no faith left. I hit rock bottom. I was crying every single day. Praying, hoping, wishing yet sitting back and stubbornly holding onto my "Freedom". After a while I stop searching for a job and refused to go back to work. I refused to give up spending hours on the internet searching for a way to write and express myself, and refused to let go of the idea that things would work out for me. I was hoping someone would see something in me and recognize my talent. 29 year old aspiring writer… the PIPE DREAM scent lingering in the air. Talk about demoralizing. I had given up the very thing that I thought defined me (my job).
Naked, Hopeless, Humiliated, Embarrassed, and Dependent. The very thing that I was struggling to get away from was exactly where I ended up. My partner was looking at me like I had lost my damn mind. Not to mention he had to take care of all the bills that I was no longer paying. He tried to be supportive but I could tell something in the back of his mind was eating away at him to say "Get Your A** Up and Find A Job". There was some relief that came in the form of me wiping out my retirement account to soothe some of the negative debt, but in a few more months that was gone too. I was disgusted with myself. I couldn't even stand to see myself in the mirror. Any little piece of success I did try to embrace was undermined by the part of me that felt resentful. To her (the resentful part of me), I was messing up her security. I was betraying her, ignoring her, and putting her in danger. There came a point where "she" wouldn't let me make any decisions. She wanted me to look in the mirror and hate myself every single day and that's exactly what I did.
Relief Came One Day
One day I looked in the mirror expecting to see that same hatred as the day before, but I didn't. A calm had come over me. The presence of peace. I had felt that same presence throughout my childhood and other difficult times in my life. When I stared in the mirror that day I sensed something staring back at me. I felt a presence (a spirit) of absolute love. i noticed that no matter how broke I was, no matter what I looked like, and no matter what my status was … the presence was undeniable. It stared back at me and claimed me even when I didn't have a dime. This feeling brought tears of joy to my eyes. I knew in that moment that no matter what direction I had decided to take that presence was always there.
The Presence Sees Me Through
This spirit beats within my heart. Constantly encouraging me to move forward. Encouraging me to stay steady and stay positive and write anyway. Reminding me that this phase in my life is about discovery. It's not about how much money I make or what role I decide to play. It's about coming to terms with who I am as a spirit being first. It's about having love and compassion for myself no matter what I decide to experience. It's the same presence that was with me through each of the books I decided to write even though they didn't get the full recognition that I had hoped for. It's the presence that says keep going, you can do it, keep your faith, and don't waiver. Its the presence that looks at me and sees the best in me even when I can't see it in myself. That steady constant being that sees the survivor in me even when I'm falling to pieces.
What Have I Learned From This Period Of My Life?
- No matter what choices we have made, none of them are reason enough to deprive ourselves of joy.
- No matter what we have decided to experience, we have the wherewithal to withstand it all.
- No matter what we decide to do with our lives, our perspectives are relevant.
- No matter what piece of discovery you are experiencing be patient with yourself.
- I learned that we really are resourceful beings and we can survive on less.
- I am still here. I am still alive. So this presence is working on my behalf for a reason.
I learned why I have such a passion for writing. Because I know that a rendezvous with the right words at the right time can change a person's life. I know that whether I get paid for it or not I have made an impression on who ever decides to read what I write.
I have learned that we all have voices and dreams and perhaps I didn't go about my dream in the best way possible. Perhaps sometimes going against authority is hinders me from getting to the people that can actually help me.
I have also learned that I have to forgive myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone. Although this is a trying time in my life I must keep the faith that I will be able to write professionally. Perhaps it's a dream inside me that the "constant spirit" can see fully manifested that I haven't learned to allow yet, but as I go on this journey I have faith that my dreams are alive and well and will one day be fully recognized. Until then, I will probably continue to make mistakes, carve roads where there are none, break through walls, and cause hell to the part of me that wants so bad to climb back into a job and cover myself with its blanket. All of that is so one day I can realize it didn't even have to be that hard… but it sure was fun along the way.
I am on a journey to the realization that dreams can come true and that maybe I didn't have to do all that struggling to get there. It's just a matter of when am I going to open up to receive the goodness that is available to me and stop making it such a fight?
So I raise my imaginary glass to toast to all of those on the road to self-discovery! Best wishes to all of those out there that are going through their own personal hell. I'll see you on the other side. We will make it through.