Today was my last day in the office. Three months ago I decided to quit my job, and now the day has come that I’m leaving. From 2017 on I will be a freelance writer and traveller, making a living of the two things I enjoy doing the most.
The job I had – and why I needed to leave
I was working a pretty standard 9 to 5 job in the last few years, ever since my graduation. I never exactly chose this job. I got it by chance, and I accepted it because I had no other immediate option at the time. Because of that I never considered it to be more than a temporary solution. I thought I’d stay until I find something I truly enjoy doing. Only, that dream job never came along. I wrote many applications, but none of them met with success. So I extended my contract and stayed another six months. And then another twelve. And another.
You get the picture.
I have now been with the company for 2 years and 9 months as a full-time employee, not counting the 2-plus years I worked there part-time when I was still a student. It wasn’t a bad job at all. My colleagues were nice. I got along well with my boss. The money was good. Only, I never felt like I belong. I couldn’t picture myself doing this for another five years. Or worse, for the rest of my life.
Escaping the bore-out
I hated the dullness of the work. It gave me no room for creative output. It had nothing to do with what I learned. I studied English literature and psychology. Now I was working in an insurance company. I knew nothing about the business when I started, and yet I never felt like the job challenged me. Every day I was only going through the motions. The only reason I was there was that I had nothing else, and working was better than being unemployed.
I’ve only ever been employed there on a temporary contract. Every time it expired I imagined how wonderful it would be to just take the leap and quit. But safety and comfort always won out in the end. Until now.
So what was different this time? Maybe it’s just that I’ve reached the limit of how long I was willing to put up with a job I didn’t enjoy. I used to joke with friends about suffering from a bore-out if I stayed much longer. Only lately it stopped being a joke. I came to a point when I felt my mental well-being started to be seriously impacted by doing this job.
One morning in late September I arrived at my office and I burst into tears, for no other reason than that I had to be there, and I so badly didn’t want to be. That moment I knew I had to get out. A week later I told my boss I’m not extending my contract when it expires at end of the year. The day after that was the happiest I ever had at work because I knew I was finally going to put all this behind me and start living the life I’ve only dreamt of before.
To quit my job to travel was both long-planned and spontaneous
It felt like a gut decision in that moment when I talked to my boss, but it really wasn’t. Leaving my job and becoming a freelance writer was something I had spent months thinking about. I started this blog a year ago with the thought of possibly making a living of it one day. I spend all of last year learning about freelancing and blogging, and how people manage to travel the world and make a living of it. It is the kind of career I already dreamt of long before I thought it could ever be a reality.
That doesn’t mean I know exactly how all of this is going to work out. Frankly, I have no idea what the future will bring. But at the moment I find it kind of exciting to just let everything come and welcome life with open arms.
Of course, I’m aware that there’s a risk, too. Things could go wrong. I had a hard time convincing my family that I could do this. That trying to live my dream was better than staying in a well-paid job that I hated. Even at the chance of failure. In the end, they saw my point and gave me their support, which means a lot to me.
Dealing with other people’s reactions
Overall I got a lot of positive reactions when I told people about my plans. More than I expected. Many people remark on the bravery of quitting a job in this way. I suppose they have a point, but to be completely honest, I think a lot of it was desperation rather than courage. Had I been in a job where I was less unhappy, I’m sure I would never have been brave enough to quit my job to travel. In a way, I needed these several years of discontent to be ready to take the risk and just go for it.
I was at a point in life where I felt it was either accepting this work and settling for it or making the break and trying to live my dreams. Which isn’t to say it’s impossible to make such a change later in life. It’s just that, for me, there was a certain now or never emotion connected with it. And never was simply not an option I was willing to accept.
Right now I feel like this is the best decision I’ve ever made
I can’t imagine I will ever regret having tried, even if things don’t work out the way I’m hoping. I would have regretted it a lot more if I had not changed anything because I couldn’t continue the same way anymore.
One of my best friends reacted to my plans by saying how glad she was I’m choosing happiness. That phrase has stuck with me because it’s exactly how it feels. I’m choosing to quit a job I don’t enjoy and instead do the things I love most. I’m choosing to start a new journey, rather than sticking with the status quo. Even if I don’t know where that journey will take me. After all, that’s what travelling is all about, isn’t it?
In the coming year, I’m choosing happiness.
And I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Have you ever chosen happiness over security? Would you consider it? Tell me your stories in the comments! And if you think I completely lost my mind, feel free to tell me that, too!