This is a post that I wrote over a year ago – I started it when I first decided to quit my job, and filled in the details when I actually quit my job.
October 18, 2011
Updated: May 2, 2012
I have officially quit my secure, corporate job and am moving to Japan with only a little money and not much of a long term plan.
A lot of people have been asking me if I’m afraid. They want to know if I’m afraid of losing my possessions, my foothold on the corporate ladder, the security of a well-paid position with a pension plan (!) and benefits. What if I want to get another job and I’ve lost my edge after a year or two out of the working world? What if no one wants me when I have a glaring gap in my resume?
To all those who have asked me if I’m afraid of losing something, I will say this: I have already lost what’s most important to me, what else do I have to lose?
I have lost control of my time.
My hours are set with only a little flexibility, and that flexibility is only because I was lucky enough to have a great manager. If I were to move forward in my career and my roles became more demanding, I would likely lose even that amount of flexibility. My life revolves around having to go to work.
I have lost my independence.
My employer pays me twice a month and that is that. I am beholden to the company for my ability to keep a roof over my head and food on my table. For a long time I would do whatever was asked of me in order to not lose my sole income source. I have now managed to eke out a small side income, which I hope to expand now that I will have 45-50 hours of my week back.
I have lost my ability to see my friends and family at will.
My family lives on the other side of the country, as do many of my friends. Many more friends live on other continents and I have trouble seeing them more than once a year – if I’m lucky. I miss my loved ones very much and I wish that I could see them more often, but with only three weeks vacation I haven’t been able to.
I have lost my ability to be outdoors.
I love being outside. Growing up I loved nothing more than spending my summers outside with the horses. I love to breathe fresh air and feel the sun on my face. I even love spending a bit of time outdoors in our cold Canadian winters. Now I sit inside all day, and I start to take on the pallor of the underside of a stone.
I have lost my ability to respect my body’s needs.
If I am tired, it doesn’t matter. I still have to get up and go to work. If my body wants to sleep in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter. I still have to be at work. If my body wants to run and stretch before lunch, it doesn’t matter. I have to sit at my desk and just carry on.
And most frighteningly:
I have lost my compassion.
Sometimes when a friend asks me for some of my time to help them out, I feel resentful because my leisure time is so limited. And then I feel terrible because I really do want to help them, it’s just that my emotional resources have been stretched so thin by all of the obligations that I have to attend to in my working life that I don’t have the patience and energy to help them cheerfully. On top of my actual work obligations are the obligations that support my work life, such as commuting, dropping off or picking up dry cleaning, and packing lunches. At the end of the day I am so spent that I often feel like I don’t have the energy to help other people, or even care about other people. I don’t want to be that kind of person.
So as I leave my day job, never to return to the world of traditional work I have to ask: what else do I have to lose?
December 7, 2012 Update:
I have decided to finally publish this post. Although I am still finding my way in my new life of self/non-corporate employment, looking back on this post makes me realize that I have regained all of these things. Although I don’t yet have 100% control over my time, nor am I able to make 100% of my living through self-employment, I am well on my way and am much farther along than I was in October 2011.
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