In the summer, I’d texted friends nearly daily, asking them to help me not quit my desk job. I wrote to them that quitting my job without a plan would be just like an alcoholic taking a drink: Disastrous. Painful. An uncharted trip through hell.
But. I wasn’t connected to the things I knew to do. Few meetings, no sponsor, stuck in the middle of step work I’d started months before.
And so, I drank. Metaphorically.
In the fall, I quit my job, without a plan. I felt elated, relieved, free. Exactly like taking a drink.
And now, I am living the consequences of that decision.
Yesterday, as I walked back to my apartment after more than 8 hours on my feet and little to show for it, I catalogued all the things I missed about my old job.
The short commute, with no bridges or tunnels involved. The normal hours. The flexible hours, when I could take off to go to Trader Joes at lunch, or walk around the gorgeous suburban landscape, or nap at a nearby friend’s before rehearsal. The co-workers I could have conversations with about things that were intelligent or fun or informative.
The kids. The chickens. The pianos.
For all I wailed about wanting a job that didn’t require me to sit in front of a computer for 40 hours a week (and granted I still don’t) the ability to actually sit at all during the day sounds vastly luxurious.
And as I walked home, the catalogue ever increasing, I said aloud, “I made a mistake.”
It was a mistake to quit my job the way I had, without a plan. I knew and had catalogued all the ephemeral perks of that job countless times, knowing what a cush place it was. But I was antsy, restless, hopeless and defiant. And I made a decision to leave.
Now, in the school of life that I’ve come through, I hear much about “not regretting the past,” and true, through the interim period without work, I befriended another unemployed bright person who suggested a crowd funding campaign to pay off my back-rent cancer debt. The campaign was wildly successful, and a check is in the mail this week. In addition, because the goal was quickly reached, a very generous family gave me a donation insisting I spend it on “something fun,” which is how and why I have this fancy new laptop to replace the dinosaur I’d had.
But… other than that? I mean, couldn’t those goals have been accomplished anyway? A campaign have been suggested another time?
Look, I know this retail job I’m in now is temporary. I am trying my best to stave off the Stockholm Syndrome that seems to have engulfed everyone who works there, or anywhere in retail, into thinking that the paltry, hiccuping pay-scale, weak health insurance, and unpredictable schedule is acceptable.
Today, I am trying to forgive the faulty thinking of mine that sent me on this fool’s errand in the first place, comparing it to how I did behave when I was drinking: It’s not cuz I was an awful person that I did what I did, it was because I didn’t know any better, and I didn’t have any tools to combat my insane thinking.
I have to offer myself compassion for the misguided, instant-gratification seeking decision I made. I was not using the tools I knew to use. I was disconnected from the community that helps me not make insane decisions, financial and otherwise.
I do feel, however, that admitting that I made a mistake in quitting that job without a plan is a good first step for me. I am not immune to my own thoughts. I am not solved from throwing myself into the abyss because I think my house is on fire.
I have decades’-driven ruts and habits that I fell over into. And I did not have the diligence or connection to haul me out before I burned my life down instead.
I mean, it has to be. Right?