How To Quit Your Job
It’s 9pm on a Monday night. I’m at the office and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. I just quit my job. My bosses are trying to calm me down and get me to reconsider, but it’s no use. I’ve snapped. How did it come to this?
It was a project I advised them not to take on. We didn’t have the necessary resources and the timeline was unreasonable. The client was delusional and manipulative. I’d been working for 15 straight days. We were supposed to launch yesterday and it was already dark outside. The client called. She had complaints about how an animation looked in Internet Explorer 6. Major parts of the launch weren’t anywhere close to ready and she was harping on rendering issues in an out-of-date browser.
I was polite. I said we’d look into it. I hung up and threw the phone against my desk and screamed, “Fuck!”
Everyone looked up from their computers and stared at me. I stormed out, slamming the door. I walked outside, lit a cigarette, and took a walk around the block. It was a balmy summer night and I stared up at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. What was I doing? I was working my ass off. For what? I felt abused and exploited. I felt like a failure — I had never missed a launch deadline before. But, mostly, I felt exhausted and unhappy.
I decided it was over. I went back upstairs and told them I was done. I started throwing the contents of my desk into my bag. The technical director and the office manager tried to get me to calm down. I responded with a litany of complaints, expletives, and accusations. To be honest, it’s all a blur. I left with a bizarre mix of handshakes and cold stares.
A coworker followed me outside, stopped me on the street, and asked me if I was really sure I wanted to do this. I looked at him. I could see the concern in his eyes. “Yeah, I’m sure,” I said. I walked to the subway and went home.
On seven different occasions, I’ve quit my job without having another job lined up. The length of notice I’ve given has ranged from a few minutes to four months. For the record, I recommend the standard two weeks. When I left these jobs, I didn’t know what I would do next, but I always had faith in myself that it would all work out one way or another. Before I’d quit, I would always think, what’s the worse that could happen? I would imagine myself sleeping on park bench with no where to go, and I always saw a certain freedom in that.
I know a lot of people that love their jobs, but I also know a lot of people that are miserable at work. They dream of quitting and doing something else with their lives, but they don’t. They worry about money and the bills they have to pay. They worry about keeping their health insurance. They worry about not being able to find another job.
I don’t have children or a wife. Maybe things would be different if I did, but I’ve never had a problem quitting jobs, risking everything to move on and try something else. I guess I never felt like I had anything to lose, or rather, I’ve always been fine with risking losing everything. My apartment, my furniture, my television, my computer, my books — it’s all just stuff.
I’ve always felt like I could make money if I needed to make money, but that’s never been the ultimate goal. If it was, I would have studied economics in college and tried to get a job on Wall Street. My goals are happiness and fulfillment — feeling like I have a purpose, feeling connected to others, feeling challenged, and always continuing to learn and grow. These may seem like lofty goals or the stuff of privilege, but it’s not that at all. This is all we have. We’ve been blinded by marketing and social constructs to think that we need more. Our society tells us that one day we’ll be happy.
We can be happy now. Poor people can be happy. Billionaires can be happy. It has nothing to do with our jobs, our social status, the things we own, or the money we have in the bank. We all know this, but we forget it from time to time. I know there been times when I’ve gotten lost in pursuits and goals that were not my own. This is what happens when we trade our labor for mere money.
When we work for corporations and organizations that value us only for what we can do — not who we are — we become the seekers of grails that are meaningless to us. The pursuit doesn’t ring true and happiness seems far off in the distance.
It is at these moments when you must ask yourself, what’s the worse that can happen?
Once again, I recommend the standard two weeks notice.