wellness

'It took me months to gather the courage to quit my job. The moment I did it, the economy crashed.'

How do you quit a job you’re constantly told by strangers is their dream job? How do you admit you don’t want a job ‘millions of girls dream of’ anymore? 

I was grappling with thoughts like this for quite some time but kept shoving them to the side, telling myself this was ‘just a stage’. There were days when my job – as Social and Content Manager for a huge fashion brand – challenged me, invigorated me and made me happy; days where the flexibility (granted after years of loyalty) allowed me to juggle podcasting, a sick cat and family commitments.

But there were also days where my job was far from enjoyable; days my creative soul slowly felt like it was being sucked out of me one meeting at a time; days the bitchiness of office politics destroyed my mood long after I’d left for the day. 

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Late last year, when the bad days started outweighing the good days, the first thoughts of leaving started creeping in. But I couldn’t leave, I had a ‘dream job’, I was so close with the owner and my team, there were still so many projects I wanted to execute for the brand. So I told myself it was ‘fine’ and kept powering on through. But ‘fine’ isn’t good enough for me and it shouldn’t be good enough for anyone.

We all go through ‘meh’ stages of course, but an extended period of ‘fine’ is not okay. Being ‘fine’ meant I was crankier and more irritable than ever. ‘Fine’ was the longest period of insomnia I’ve experienced in my entire life and the skinniest I’ve been since 18. Sunday night through Friday morning I hardly slept unless I’d taken sleeping tablets and I was barely eating, surviving on coffee, alcohol and high calorie snacks. Stress was rife and I would get so anxious when I checked emails and messages in the morning, I’d feel physically ill. 

Despite getting married in November, I was too busy to take a honeymoon and proceeded to work through Christmas, not really fully aware of how messed up my priorities had become. In early January, I found out I hadn’t gotten a promotion I’d been working so hard towards; the direction of the company was changing so fast and I simply didn’t have the skills they required for this new role.

I got home and burst into tears, crying for all the nights I’d spent working for something that didn’t eventuate. It’s funny that as humans, we chase these goals. Goals that look good on paper and put more money in your bank account but really don’t make us any happier. It’s funny that I was so stressed yet was chasing MORE responsibility, which would have increased the stress tenfold. 

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I decided I needed a holiday. I hadn’t had more than a few days off (and was never not online) for 18 months, and that includes the time I took off for my wedding. I figured a proper break would do me a world of good. 

A few weeks later, I jetted off to Bali and honestly had one of the best experiences of my life. I slept, I ate delicious food, I played with pals who lived there, I read six books after not picking one up for over a year (hello, Audible), I drank cocktails in the sun, and I became inspired again. I was reinvigorated, ideas started coming to me in every direction, I was excited to go back and kick goals.

Less than two weeks later, I handed in my official resignation.

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Bali hadn’t changed my situation but it had changed my perception of the situation. I wasn’t happy and it wasn’t fair on me and it wasn’t fair on the company. Absolutely no one can perform 100 per cent and do a fantastic job when their mental health is so dismal. 

COVID-19 was lurking behind the scenes through all this. But as everyone in Australia knows, it was business as usual until out of nowhere, it wasn’t. Suddenly, my last few weeks at the company I was devastated to be leaving were spent working from home. You might wonder why I was devastated when I was so stressed but like I said, there had been good days and prior to all of this, it had been the best, most rewarding job I’d ever had, for a company I will always be loyal to.

I was planning on freelancing for a while to figure out my next move but all my networking opportunities, speaking engagements and freelance jobs were canned.

I had literally quit my job at the worst possible time. But while the worldwide situation is terrifying, I don’t regret it for a second. The freelance jobs I’m getting fill me with so much joy and I’m once again doing what I’m good at and love doing.

Sure, I’m not earning as much but my mental health is far more important – and right now, I’m the least anxious I’ve been in yonks. 

But I’ll tell you what, I can’t wait until this is all over so I can march into my old office and demand my pals send me off with a proper celebration.

Feature Image: Instagram @kelly_mccarren

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