The Day I Quit My Job

Tuesday, June 4, 2013.

I quit my job. Technically, it was more of a mutual separation. I had come to loathe putting any effort in once 9 a.m. rolled around, and it had grown tired of making my life miserable since it had been working at that for the past eleven months.
Still, it was like breaking up with a boyfriend. Even if you’re the one to cut ties, there is something so strange about the way it feels to pack up the memories in a box and just leave it on a doorstep. I had to walk away from what I knew I did not want anymore, but how would I know where to go next?

I had never quit any job before. I’d worked summers at home between my college years where it was understood that I’d be back at school when the leaves changed in the fall, but I never quit. Still, I always imagined all the ways I’d make my big exit. Maybe, in a red hot rage, I’d throw a dish against the wall at the family restaurant I worked at for three years. Or cuss out a customer. Or just say, “To hell with it!” and sneak out on lunch break and never come back. That didn’t really sound like me, though. How do people even quit jobs?

It turns out that (despite what my family thinks) I’m a little less dramatic than that.

That Tuesday afternoon, after giving prior notice to my supervisor, I just left. I walked quietly out of the double doors with a tiny voice in my head screaming, “OH MY GOD, YES!” all the while feeling a lot like shitting my pants and crawling back home into my mother’s arms, to when things were easier. I knew that I couldn’t possibly know what would come next. After all, the comfortable routine of 9-5 Monday through Friday was now gone. Did I just make a huge mistake?
Most of my friends, like any other college graduate, struggled to find a job after graduation that did not involve food service or retail, and here I was, nearly a year into my first actual “big girl” job, and I threw it away.
But, I did get something in return: a one way plane ticket.

Just shy of my 23rd birthday, I bought my flight to Spain and fought to leave uncertainty on the doorstep of my first apartment. I had a goal in mind:

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I convinced myself I was ready for this. Months of energy had been channeled into reading travel blogs, self-help books, and a desire to make my breaths known, and not just taking them to live. At 22, I had honestly felt life slowly draining from my fingertips with every number I dialed in the call center I worked at, every forever friend I lost, each meal I microwaved when I got home after working countless hours of overtime, and every bottle of wine I finished by myself.

You grow up familiarizing yourself with the way the system works, and what role you play in it. You do what is expected of you: graduate high school, go to college, get a job, start a family, etc. But what if that’s not in the cards for everyone?

I made the decision to move to Spain when I realized that I had no passion for my life. Not a career I loved to throw myself into, a man I couldn’t imagine being without, a hobby to consume my days, a real hunger for my life anymore. I had done just what was intended of me, and what I thought I wanted. I graduated college and moved from my small town to the city of Pittsburgh, where I immediately started working. Yet, I was unhappy. I stopped reading and writing for pleasure. I quit trying to discover the world, let alone trying to change it. I’d live for the weekends, but those would leave me waking to a pounding headache, and blurred memories disguised as happiness. I thought, “Would my 16 year old self be proud of where I am?”

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It was around this same time that my good friend Matt kept posting pictures about his travels from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. For a while, I watched from the other side of a computer screen with jealousy. Then, one day, I sent a message pleading with him to tell me anything and everything he could about how I could travel the world like he was, and the rest is history.

He introduced me to Workaway, a site that essentially allows individuals to connect with host families and exchange help (i.e. babysitting, teaching English, gardening, other housework, etc.) for a place to stay, allowing the traveler to fully immerse themselves in the culture of the country of their choice.

Now, don’t get me wrong. As perfect as that sounded, and as badly as I wanted to just ditch everything and escape my cubicle life, I still had fears. I had saved up some money, but what if I came back to the States unable to get a job? I knew how hard it was for me to find this one in the first place, and what my friends were still going through. What if I ran out of money, and had to come back? And then, had to move back in with my parents because I couldn’t afford my rent? How can a girl who just got used to taking a city bus ever survive alone navigating through foreign countries, by HERSELF?! What if I got robbed? What if I got shot by a gang or caught a serious illness? What if I got sexually assaulted in a hostel, or lost my passport, or missed my flight, or was denied by Customs? I confessed my less irrational fears to Matt.

Here was his reply:

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Simply put, he was absolutely right- and I knew it. In that instant, my mind was made up.

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With the help of Workaway, I connected with a family in Blanes, right outside of Barcelona, Spain: Jordi, his wife Roser, and their two children, Mar (5) and Adria (3). After several e-mails, Skype dates, and consideration, it was decided that I would stay with them for two to three months, lend Roser a hand with the children, and help teach them the English language. I would fly out of Pittsburgh International Airport on June 26th and meet them in Barcelona.

In preparing for my big day, Matt also was gracious enough to lend me his backpack that he used during his travels. My mom drove down to help me pack up for six months (that woman can fit the whole state of Texas neatly into a Ziploc bag) and restored order back to my wild, racing mind. I distinctly remember her joking, “You have two boobs and there are seven days in a week. WHY do you have so many bras?!”

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So, finally there I was, packed and ready to go. I had found someone to sublet my apartment, bought an adapter, and left behind my cell phone, several people who didn’t support me or understand, and my fear of the unknown.

Stay tuned for me setting sail, first impressions, and what happens next when I touch down!

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21 thoughts on “The Day I Quit My Job

  1. I love this post, I was in the exact same position as you five months ago and completely quit my job to travel. Daunting as it is, it’s liberating to do something challenging for yourself.

    Thank you for the follow, and I’m following back because I’m excited to follow your journey! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for the kind words! I actually made this journey two years ago now, but never shared it with anyone. I plan on continuing my love for traveling in the future and letting this serve as an outlet to share my experiences, creative writing, and to connect with people like you! 🙂

      Like

  2. I felt so connected with every word of this post.. But Matts text couldn’t inspire me much because I’ve given up. I can see myself not happy and crying away between laughters.. But family’s support is important more than the guts. Cannot collect that courage.
    All the best for your Journey!! Keep updating posts and pictures! Following! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Salina,

      I am not sure of your particular story or situation, but I can understand how wanting something and having the courage to take the first step are two different things, and certainly never easy. However, as the quote reads: ” The most dangerous risk of all- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later” could not be more true.
      Whatever holds you back- money, time, fear, family etc., these reasons will not change or go away overnight, and perhaps not even in another 10 years. I would hate to see you not pursue something you want so badly, and remain unhappy. I wish you the best with all future endeavors and am here if you have any questions!

      I am following along with you as well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How cool! I’m a little late in reading this post, and by now you’re already posting about Spain. I have never heard about workaway before, but it sounds amazing – I might just have to look into when my RTW trip ends.

    You’re lucky you decided to call it quits to cubicle life just a mere year into working a “big girl” job – kudos to you! You have many years to explore and figure it all out!

    Oh, and by the way, when I quit my job it wasn’t very dramatic or anything either…hahah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Victoria, thanks so much for the praise! It’s a unique situation because this whole thing happened in 2013 but I’m just now blogging about it. Workaway is a fantastic site to look at if you’re interested in a cheap way to travel that allows you to also immerse yourself in the culture! 🙂

      Like

    • Thanks so much again for following along! Workaway is an awesome opportunity, but it isn’t for everyone, so check it out! This travel journey took place actually two years ago, I am just now sharing my story with everyone and getting the courage to put my other writing (poetry, prose, etc.) out there as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad for you that you had the courage to reach out and try to make something more of your life. There is nothing at all wrong with working a job and paying your bills. But you’ll have plenty of your life ahead of you to do that. I hope living in Spain works well for you. Find a mini-adventure and revitalize your life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cathleen,
      What a wonderful thing to say! That is exactly how I saw it. If I didn’t take this chance now, when would I? I wanted nothing more than to start living, rather than merely existing. However, I knew how important it was to have a job and pay bills. But, as they say, I will be doing that the rest of my life. That is why I created this opportunity for myself while I still was single, without children, and not tied down with major responsibilities.
      I actually went to Spain two years ago, and traveled around Europe for six months. I have returned to the States and am working again. It certainly revitalized my life, though 🙂

      Like

  5. hi, thanks for stopping by me and the ‘follow’ !
    you made a move 20 years earlier than i did and that was bold, but happy to know you’re comfortable with it – best wishes and happy travels !
    if happen to swing by my part of the world, would be happy to hear 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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