This post is a piggy-back post from yesterday's Don't Be A Quitter.
Taking from the last two goals on my New Year's list, try new things and stay positive, earlier this week I quit my job.
I've recently adopted a philosophy that life is too short to do things that make you miserable. I realize not everyone has this luxury, so please don't think I'm bragging. I'm not saying we should only do things that make us happy. It's impossible to maintain a state of happiness at all times. True happiness is fleeting, regardless of what anyone says, and while outside variables certainly contribute to our happiness, happiness is a state of mind that we control from the inside. We can learn contentment and how to appreciate what we have, but it's our nature to find something wrong with our environment, situation, or the people around us.
However, only doing things that make you happy and doing something that makes you miserable are separate issues. My job was making me miserable. It was a daily reminder that I was going nowhere, learning nothing, and feeling unappreciated everyday I had to be there. Not to mention, listening to the same awful music everyday is no less than a minor form of torture... thank you, satellite radio.
First, I cut back my schedule, but even being there just three days a week was agony. And once I had myself convinced it was one of Dante's nine circles of hell, there was no going back. So next, my attitude fell apart. Not only was it hard for me to be polite to customers and coworkers, but I was even bringing that negativity home with me. And that's when the spouse got involved. He said to quit, and after much turmoil and some long philosophical discussions with friends and the Mom, I was convinced.
Why would I be hesitant to quit if I am so miserable working there, you might ask? I'll explain. First, working anywhere allows me to avoid doing other things that I know I should be doing. It allows me an excuse to be lazy. It permits me to stay in on a continued path of uncertainty about my purpose in life, to remain in limbo about my future, and to not do the work I know I should be doing. Second, having a job gives me a feminist's sense of worth that you can't get from being a homemaker... or a lazy bum. By having a job, even a stupid job, I'm able to contribute something to our financial well-being or at least have my own money. Contributing means I have a say in things, so of course I'm reluctant to hang that up. Third, still on the financial side of things: we'll be okay, but really no one of our income level should be quitting their job in this economy. It's a scary thing to do and it makes me feel out of control. Fourth, control. That's the number one reason: not having a job makes me feel out of control. And feeling out of control equals fear.
And the fourth reason was why I began to feel I needed to just do it, just quit. Sometimes you need to take risks. Sometimes you need to do things you're afraid of doing. You need to have faith that things will end up okay even if you can't tangibly control the the outcome. And I, probably more than the average person, need to be reminded of this as much as possible. I have zero faith in pretty much anything other than myself, and that's a very very sad place to be. I grew up thinking everything you decided to do had to be the best possible decision, based on the best information, the best logic, the best research, and the best common sense. And gosh be darned if I was going to make the wrong decision about anything! What might seem obvious to you, has only just recently begun to make sense to me: it is impossible to make a perfect decision. Sometimes you just have to make one and stick by your decision, or be prepared to make a new one next week or tomorrow.
Also, I had a revelation. As an actor, I have trained my whole life to listen to my body, (yep, that sounds as cheesy as I thought it would) to respond to instincts and just "go with them." I was also trained to be attuned to my emotions and hear what they have to say, rather than following the common human (primarily American) habit of stuffing what you feel under the covers every morning before you get out of bed. But after a while, I think I lost a sense of balance between instincts, emotions, and common sense. If I keep waiting for things to "feel right" or have the sensation that what I'm about to do is what I should be doing, it will probably never happen. Certainty is not a feeling or emotion: it is a decision.
Think about it like this: if you're used to having a creative outlet and then you don't have one or you're in a situation where you don't feel inspired in anyway, you'll get bored. Boredom can lead to feelings of stupidity and insanity ("I have to get out of here!"), which is why many college grads hit the work force and immediately feel "less smart" as they grind away at an unstimulating 9-5. Allowing fear to control you makes you feel even more insane. And what are we all afraid of? Losing our jobs, not finding a job, not having a source of income, not being in control, etc. You put fear in the driver's seat and you'll get nowhere. But when are we at our bests? When are our minds the most stimulated and creative in problem-solving? What makes us smarter and literally causes our brains to grow? When we take a risk and venture out of our comfort zones.
Sometimes it's time to say no to the fear. Sometimes it's time to just make a decision, especially if it's one that scares you. Sometimes it's time to quit.