It seems like every success story out there starts with something like “I quit my job”. And I used to listen to those stories and wish I could do the same.
Quitting my job and going on an adventure always sounded like the best thing to me. I would spend hours fantasizing and planning my escape from the corporate world but never take any action.
After 4 years of working at a job I never really chose, I finally quit. And it was the furthest thing from what I expected would happen: I had no savings and barely any plan. I just did it.
Finally setting myself free was thrilling. I felt like an immense space got freed up and that I get to do what I want with it. I started noticing just how much time there is in a day when most of it wasn’t taken by my job.
But let’s be real for a second, quitting my job with no savings also meant:
Fear of scarcity and running out of money
I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t planning on staying at that job long-term, but I still spent all my salary every month and waited for the next. I never saved any money or invested in anything that would have my back and provide me with some sort of financial security. When I quit my job, I had practically nothing, and that made me really afraid of going broke.
Guilt because my family relies on me
This is a big one. My family completely relying on me for financial support was the main reason I stayed 4 years in a job I never even planned to have in the first place. So, when I quit, I started feeling like I had let them down, which is true in some way. The guilt was growing stronger the more I was running out of money.
Worry about the future
Everyone out there will tell you to have a plan before you quit your job, and for a good reason. The least you can do before quitting your main -or only source of income is have a plan for what to do next. But I had barely any plan. I knew roughly what I wanted to do, but I had no clear road map for what was to come. And that was a source of worry.
Doubt about my ability to make money outside of a corporate job
That ties to my previous point of not having a plan, but it’s also a matter of mindset. When we are so used to receiving a salary at the end of the month based on the hours we worked, it’s hard to imagine making money otherwise. So, after quitting my job, I started wondering: “How is anyone going to pay me for anything?” “How does one even begin to make money outside of a corporate job?”.
You probably want the answers to those questions too. And I will tell you what I learned from my experience in a future blog post. For now, let me explain why I even made the choice to quit my job when there are so many downsides to it.
Why did I make the choice to quit?
My mental health:
The first and most important reason why I quit my job is my mental health. My job was the main source of stress and depression for me and even caused me mental breakdowns and panic attacks. I tried to work on myself and find ways to cope with my stress, but it was overwhelming.
I can’t even begin to count the times when I have had a mental breakdown while getting ready for work. I would break down crying and shaking and begging for it to stop. I still have this mental image of me sitting on the bed, my jeans halfway up, completely unable to do anything but cry. It happened many times. And it was terrible.
I was wasting my time:
When I decided to quit, I had been working there for 4 years and I got nothing out of it. No savings, no investments, no house or car, or anything of value. My salary was good, but by the end of the month, nothing was left of it.
I tried to work on myself and my money mindset. I tried to read books and watch videos about finances. But it was all useless. I was deeply unsatisfied with my job and my life and I used to spend all my money to escape those feelings.
I would spend my money on food, travel, and unnecessary things that I don’t even remember now. And I would justify it by telling myself that work is stressful and I deserve to entertain myself.
I knew that if I stayed in my job, nothing would change.
I was afraid:
I was terrified that I would never see my dreams come true, that I would get sucked into the hamster wheel and never be able to get out.
A conventional life has always been a nightmare for me. Even when I was in high school, I dreaded the idea of a one-size-fits-all life. The idea that I’ll go to university, get a job, get married, have children, and then what? Die?
So, to see myself living the very life that I always wanted to avoid was a nightmare. And the fear of never getting to live the life I truly want was bigger than the fear of being jobless and broke.
All of those reasons have been there since my first year of work. It was obvious that I didn’t belong there and that I craved much more from life. But I still stayed year after year, for various reasons which all come down to fear.
But the moment I really decided I was going to quit was the following:
God gave me a sign:
My mental breakdowns and panic attacks started getting more frequent and intense. In one of my panic attacks, I begged God to tell me what to do. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” Elizabeth Gilbert style*. I prayed and begged for an answer and it came: “quit”.
*In her book Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth tells the story of how she was crying on her bathroom floor, begging God for help.
But I still resisted doing that. I still had fears and worries about the future. I still decided to stay in my very uncomfortable comfort zone.
As the days and weeks passed, I kept noticing how my mental health was plummeting and I kept remembering that moment of clarity and divine intervention. I kept repeating the word in my brain “quit”.
About a month and a few mental breakdowns later, I finally executed my decision.
It was a lot to process
It’s been now over two months since I quit my job,
- I had to process the loss of an old life. A life where I was able to travel and go to restaurants and spend my money. And I realized that all of those things were coping mechanisms to escape my misery.
- I had to process the loss of a secure source of money. I had to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be receiving my usual salary by the end of the month. I had to realize that I needed to find other ways to make money.
- I had to process the loss of the people I used to see every day. The time we used to spend together. The friendship that developed over the years. And the fact that I will be alone in my new journey.
Quitting my job with no savings and no one to have my back is hard. It is scary.
But you know what’s harder and scarier?
Continuing in my old life. A life I swore I would never live when I was younger.
Looking at my vision board with a sad longing and a desperate resignation that it might never come true.
Seeing myself run in a vicious cycle and stay exactly where I was 4 years ago.
Projecting into the future and seeing myself still running in circles.
If you’re in a situation where you’re unsatisfied, you need to understand that at some point, you have to make a choice. You have to jump right into the unknown without being sure if there’s a net to catch you. You have to listen to the voice of your own guidance no matter what everyone around you is advising you to do.
One of my favorite quotes ever is: “Jump. And the net will appear.”
My other favorite quote is: “You’ll never know if you never try.”
You can always get back to the net of safety that you used to know.
But you’ll never know what possibilities are out there if you never take a step out of your comfort zone.
If you liked reading about my experience with quitting my job, you might enjoy reading about my experience of quitting social media for 30 days.
Cover Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash.