It’s OK to Quit

I grew up learning that you never quit anything (unless you have a really, really, really good excuse). But quitting two jobs in my post-college life has turned out to be the best thing I’ve done with my professional life since graduating.

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7 Signs You Should Throw in the Towel:

  1. The thought has crossed your mind more than a few times
  2. You’ve googled reasons why you should leave more than once and you’ve been eyeing the job boards for weeks
  3. Your workplace is not a place of empowerment and you feel unimportant or belittled
  4. You dread going to work more often than you look forward to it
  5. Your work-life balance is out of whack
  6. There’s a lack of personal or team growth
  7. The cons side of your pros and cons list is pretty heavy

I quit my first job as a reporter after working for a newspaper for a year and a half. It was a fantastic experience that brought something new every day, helped me build an expansive local network and laid the groundwork for my later career. But working odd hours, writing stories on the weekends and never knowing when I was going to get off work wasn’t cutting it for me. And 99 percent of journalists will tell you the compensation just isn’t worth it. No, it’s not always all about money, but as former reporter Allyson Bird so eloquently put it, “’I finally came to accept that the vanity of a byline was keeping me in a job that left me physically and emotionally exhausted, yet supremely unsatisfied.’” Supreme dissatisfaction just ain’t worth a $30,000 (give or take [likely take]) salary, no matter how you slice it.

They say, “Do what you love and everything else will fall in to place.” That’s not entirely true. I loved meeting new people and getting paid to do things professionals in any other career couldn’t, like sneak backstage for a Cirque du Soleil performance, hang out with astronauts and explore the lives of everyday people.

But the job that I loved so much was killing my joy, because my joy is more than a career. My joy is my family, my husband, friends, volunteering and time for me.

So I quit. But not without hesitation and not without regret. When I’d get anxious about my upcoming end date, I’d try and make myself feel better with this jewel from C.S. Lewis: “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

You’re Not Crazy (your mother had you tested?)

Good ole C.S. wasn’t lying, but he also wasn’t telling the whole truth. It took a while for my “far better things” to come about. I moved on to a second job (which I highly suggest you have in line before quitting) and it was peachy keen for about two weeks until I realized that my boss had no trust in my ability to do my job.

I had a serious conversation with my boss, which made me feel better for the time being, but changed nothing. I sought advice from a handful of trusted professionals, including my former editor, to whom I was super afraid to admit that I sort of wanted my job back. I began searching for jobs several times a day, but I felt like a lunatic having been at the new gig for such a short time. I questioned myself and my decision to quit the first job. I questioned my perception of a healthy work environment. I questioned my education, my future, my past, my talents, my abilities.

And finally, a job posting. A beautiful, beautiful posting for a similar, writing-based position at another organization. A revamped resume, cover letter, and an interview. The waiting, oh the dreaded waiting. Then the phone call, during which I happened to be in the bathroom—oh the horror! I didn’t answer until business was finished, don’t worry. I had a hard time washing my hands I was shaking so badly! (TMI? Whatevs.)

And then the offer that changed my world. Finally, a way to experience all of my joys.

I was nervous to leave the known, albeit miserable, for something unknown. After all, I’d already left one job I really liked, but just wasn’t working for my lifestyle. What if I went to this job and hated it, too? What if I had completely made working life out to be something it wasn’t? Well, a couple months in and I’m doing alright. Pretty great, in fact.

Moral of the story: If you aren’t happy, pinpoint your source(s) of unhappiness and work to make changes that can improve your circumstance. If you’ve done that, given it some time and you’re still miserable, GET OUT. If it’s stealing your joy, it isn’t worth it.

I realize this can become a waiting game. After all, it’s a job with the money that you need to buy toilet paper and keep the lights on. If you feel you need to quit immediately, consider your finances. If you can white-knuckle-grip it until you find something else, that’s likely your better option.

It may take some time, tears and trial and error, but it will come. Don’t you worry, sweet pea.

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