Why I Took a Career Break in My Late 20s
Stepping away from things that are familiar - even if they are not perfect - is a very hard thing to do. This is exactly what I did when I quit my job last year. To be clear, there was some planning involved, including a "break fund" I'd been saving saved for the last few years (because you never know). Some version of a career break has been swimming around my head for a while, and those versions included: taking a year off to travel, going back to school full-time, moving into a tiny house (that's still TBD), and getting an internship in a completely new field and working my way up from there.
I finally took action after a dinner date with my girlfriends, where we spent most of a night talking about our collective burnout (which is stupid, really - we're all extremely young, and what we're experiencing definitely should not be a thing). One of my friends suggested that instead of switching jobs, again, maybe I should just.....
It felt so good to get that external affirmation. Two weeks later I put in my notice, and then that was it.
I have quit a job before without backup, but that was my first position out of college and I was giving me regular chest pains (yikes). This move was different, as I had great coworkers and a fun environment to work in. It was definitely the most enjoyable post-college job that I have had, and I'm thankful that I was able to work there.
This shift was proactive, not reactive.
Then I was just completely free, and I could do anything. I told myself that I would not apply to any jobs for at least six weeks, and that was surprisingly difficult. I even asked my husband to put a child block on Indeed.com to keep me from reflexively checking it. Ha!
This forced me to think about myself in new and complex ways:
Society folds our identities into work, as a way to fuel the machine of production. Work in itself is not necessarily valuable for an individual, unless it is specifically work that you care about in some way. Clearly everyone needs an income and insurance (if you live in the US), but the"value" I'm referring here to personal fulfillment or engagement.
I stopped trying to fight boredom and sat with myself, and I made some great discoveries. I'm actually really fun, inquisitive, and I creative. Without being preoccupied with work, I was able to collaborate on art projects, attend late night weekday concerts, travel, volunteer with several important causes, and share my thoughts with you, reader.
Where am I right now?
I am so so happy, with the discoveries that I've made about myself and about life. I have realized that I don't want these discoveries to end, so moving forward I'll make an effort to keep growing and learning!
When I'm an old person shuffling down the street, I want to look back on my life and think about all of the fun that I had, and all of the people I helped, and the places that I saw - rather than how good I looked with expensive accouterments, or who I impressed.
It's really scary to do something... unconventional... but conventions are changing all of the time. More and more people are choosing to be kind to themselves rather than living their lives for others. Don't pander to the people who live their lives to judge others - you should hold yourself accountable to yourself instead.
If you are feeling like something is "off," I really really encourage you to stop ignoring that feeling and take action in a way that makes sense for you. There is not going to be another chance, and it will never feel comfortable... this is it.
With a heart full of kindness,