At the end of April, I left my old job to pursue a career in theater. Despite that being my driving factor, it was a lot less dramatic than you may think. (see what I did there? :D)
The fact of the matter is, I was fairly comfortable where I was. There was steady pay, room for advancement and the people I worked with were fantastic. Sure I worked long hours during certain times of the year, and there were a few angry phone calls from customers now and then, but nothing unbearable. And that got to me.
Not the phone calls. Once you get enough of those, they all turn into the adult voice from the old Peanuts cartoons. It was the comfort. I wasn’t really taking many risks in my old position. This was partly because of NY State mandates, but even in places where I could take chances, I…wasn’t. It became harder to believe that I was the same person who auditioned for Richard III in college with no “formal” acting experience. Or that I was the same person who staged a relatively new play with primarily feminist themes. Was I even the same person who dared to go out on Cinco De Mayo before starting on my final paper for COMP 200? (A great story for another time) It didn’t feel like it.
I’m not saying that you should leave a position solely because you’ve had to change something about yourself. Every job will expect you to give them your time at the minimum, and make you change some habits. For example, if you’re a teacher you can expect to put a few less pictures of your nights out on facebook. Most people have no problem making that adjustment. But if you feel like the world needs your Saturday night instagram, than you have to seriously consider if teaching is still for you. At the end of the day, you can have all the money and stability in the world. But if you feel like your passion, the very thing you were put on this earth to do is being put aside, then you may always feel like there is something missing in your 9 to 5.
One of my favorite quotes as of late has been from Howard Thurman. He wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I urge anyone reading this to follow that advice…with some reservations.
If your job is the only thing that can keep you financially afloat, then make a long-term plan. First off, chart out steps for saving money for a period where you might not be making anything. If you’re going back to school, consider part-time or online options while still at your current position. This gets you one step closer to doing what you want to do without having a lot of worry about employment. Of course, you can always take the risky option and leave without any prep, but know that you will have to spend some time getting stable before you do what left to do.
Quitting your position can be about job stress, a bad work environment or a bigger check. But I think the best reason to leave is do what truly makes you come alive. It’s not true what they say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. You’re going to have to work at least one day in your life doing something you don’t love.
The question is: what will you do next?