It is always difficult to pinpoint the catalyst of a movement after the dust has settled. Like most crossroads in life, there were many factors and people that played a role in my decision to quit my job. It was undoubtedly a scary and tough choice to make, but for me it was necessary. I was not happy with the person I was becoming – worried about others perceptions of me more than I was my own happiness. Chasing an ambiguous checking account balance, living in the ever-materialistic City of Angels, I had become more interested in what I had than who I was. It was a chance meeting with a senior executive of the Fortune 500 Company I was working for that put things into perspective. I had 25 minutes with this executive in a developmental exercise intended to inspire me to want to climb the corporate ladder to attain his obnoxious salary so that I too could wear Armani suits and Rolexes while driving a Ferrari.
I spent my time asking him about himself, outside of work. What was his life like? Was he happy? Did he ever get time to spend with the people he cared about most? What was the last thing he did that brought him genuine joy? At first he stuck to the corporate script and would answer with job related keywords proclaiming that his deep passion for the business gave him joy everyday. Knowing how his work would affect the lives of so many young and talented people, like me, was all of the happiness he needed. Then the truth came. He began telling me how he has sacrificed a lot of his personal life to get the things he wanted in life. He confided in me how sometimes you don’t realize that money alone cannot afford all the little details that fill your dreams. Most times they take a part of you. Often times they take the most important part of you: Time.
It was then that I knew I was not interested in climbing this corporate ladder, unwilling to pay for these things that had somehow made their way into the crevices of my dreams. I was never a materialistic person but I had watched myself grow into one. Like my mother, I never cared about what kind of car I drove, always understanding it was nothing more than a vehicle of transportation. I cringed at myself for refusing to valet my old Honda Accord when meeting friends at lunch. I would drive passed a woman in a Mercedes Benz G-Wagon and think to myself how that car would change me. This meeting reminded me that it would not. This meeting with this unhappy executive was a wake-up call for me. I was intelligent, ambitious, beautiful and determined. Anything I set my mind to I believed I would achieve, so if I wanted his position, with time and hard work I would undoubtedly have it, but I was now sure I did not want it.
I tried to override my heart and its desires with my brain and its financial obligations. I tried to be one of the many people that go to a job they hate in an effort to save some amount of money they deem to be enough of a safety blanket to quit. I tried hard. But my dreams were too big and vivid while me fear of becoming that executive was too scary and real. One morning my heart sucker punched my brain as it was trying to wake me for work. I had an anxiety attack. I was crippled with fear and worry that I would become someone I did not want to be because I was too afraid to be myself. Too afraid to figure out how I could live the life I dreamed of. Too busy to dedicate time to my passion for writing which would later lead to my true happiness. Too broke to invest in myself and my dream, choosing instead to work myself to exhaustion for someone else’s. My anxiety attack was my last straw. I quit.