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You left your job? In this economy?!

I wasn’t thinking about the state of the economy when I handed in my resignation letter in June. Yes, I had heard about the economic woes, but it felt too abstract for me to worry about it. And I kept hearing about how the Canadian economy was better than other western economies so how bad could it be?

From what I can gather from googling, Canadian employment growth has stalled due to economic uncertainty; despite that, Canada holds the highest employment rate among G7 nations. Also, the (NEET) percentage of youth under 30 who are unemployed and actively looking for work or are not in the labour force in Canada was calculated at 13.3% – which is supposedly low compared to other G7 nations. Our unemployment rate currently sits at around 7.4% (compared to 5.9% (’07), 6.2% (’08), 8.3% (’09), 8.0% (’10), and 7.1% (’11) of Septembers past). I dunno. Whatever.

So naturally everyone wants to know why I left my job. Why did I leave my job?

On an early morning in June, working from my neighbourhood Starbucks, I received an email request to reschedule yet another work meeting. What would normally seem like a mundane request felt like someone had stuck out their leg in my path to purposely make me fall – making all things I was juggling in my hands scatter to the ground in the process. I had to put down my latte because I was physically shaking so hard. Something inside of me snapped. The proverbial breaking of the camel’s back.

I left because my job no longer felt gratifying. Because there was no longer room in my life for me. Because my life at the time felt like it was swallowing me whole. Because I felt like my work had become my life – which I swore to myself I would never do. And a part of me left because people were telling me I shouldn’t.

I felt that the only way to understand and reassess my life was to step out of it. I was spending so much of my waking hours working and what hours I had left were dedicated to putting out other fires existing in my life. I didn’t recognize my life and I didn’t like what I was seeing and I had no time to evaluate how to rectify the situation.

I needed to breathe. That’s why I quit.

The biggest misconception that has arisen from my resignation is the assumption that I am searching for a “dream job”. What is a dream job anyway?  To me a dream job is a job that you want to do rather than need to do. Since most people have needs – namely food, shelter and/or clothing – that are contingent on holding a job, most people cannot afford to hold a dream job. Anything you enjoy doing that much – something that is that dreamy – no longer qualifies as work. It’s a hobby.

Another misconception, which is related to the dream job assumption, is that I am naive and childish to think that a job can enjoyable; since nobody likes their job, to leave a job because you don’t like it is foolish. Well, there was a time when I did like my job so I know it is possible to enjoy what one does for a living. And I feel sorry for those who can leave their despised job but choose not to because they associate misery-on-the-job with wearing big-girl pants. Most of us have choices. My choice is to not live the one life I have spending most of it in misery.

Some of us don’t have choices. Some of us have economic, societal, or other institutional barriers that prevent us from reaching our potential. For obstacles that can be overcome, some people have larger obstacles in their path than others. Some of you reading this may not agree with these statements. For those who do not agree, chances are that you have not walked in the shoes of those with the barriers I speak of. In any case, I recognize that not everyone has the luxury of leaving their job without major repercussions. I would never suggest or recommend leaving a job one doesn’t enjoy, especially without having a new job secured, to everyone.

In my instance, I feel it made sense to leave my job and my rental apartment. I had some money saved, I had a network of family to fall back on, and friends who I could rely on. Not everyone has that.

I left my job in order to find an ideal situation. I suspect that “situation” will evolve as my life does. For the short-term, it means holding a job in a locale that is conducive to achieving new personal goals I have. I’d disclose them all but then the goals wouldn’t be as personal anymore.

The hardest people to explain this to are potential employers. How do I explain why I left my job? There really isn’t a way without sounding long-winded or finicky (possibly much like this blog post). I’ve settled for providing half-truths now since a lot of people do not understand why anyone would choose unemployment over employment – especially in this economy. One interviewer actually asked me, “You know the economy is bad, right?”. I grinned when I answered, “Yep!”. Not surprisingly, I haven’t heard from her since.

Anyway, the search for a new job continues. I have dabbled in some temp work which has helped with income and has been a welcome break from all the job board combing.  My new HR Management course has reintroduced me to student life: essays, tests, and exams – oh my! And I have replaced working in Starbucks with studying at my local Tim Hortons.

I’ll admit two things:

  1. It’s not the best time to be looking for a new job.
  2. I miss Grande Soy Chai Tea Lattes.

But I have no regrets. Not yet anyway.

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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