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My story sounds like a typical millennial self-entitlement issue but I thought I’d share it with you anyways. Some of you might feel empowered by the story of how I quit my job. I want you to join me on my quest for a more fulfilling life. Let’s begin…
I had immense pressure to succeed growing up. It wasn’t that my parents were one of those super strict Asian parents who forced me to study all day. As a matter of fact, my parents were barely there to monitor my progress in school. They never even bothered to attend my parent-teacher interviews growing up.
So how did I find motivation to work so hard during my childhood? Well, at a young age, I had already developed a reputation for being “smart.” I consistently received the top grades in all of my classes. I wanted to uphold this image forever. I can’t deny that I liked this recognition and awards that I was receiving. And so, I was constantly striving to excel and be the best version of myself.
My high school life
In high school, I was super involved in everything from concert band to the World Vision organization. I wanted to do it all. My teachers loved me — I still keep in touch with some of them today.
One of my high school teachers recommended that I become a Chartered Accountant as I was really good at math. I decided to take his advice and that’s what led me down the path to becoming an accountant. Word of advice: don’t take career advice when you’re only 13 years old!
My university life
I attended one of the top universities in Canada for their accountancy program. For the first time ever, I was surrounded by people just like me, overachievers. We all competed for the same jobs in the Big 4. In the end, I ended up working in industry because the auditing route was a bit too boring for me.
The part I regret most about university was that I did internships all along. As in, I never once had a break from school. Every summer was spent working at a company. I felt like this was the price to pay to get ahead and stay competitive in the job market.
Finally – graduation
After 4 years of studying and interning, I finally graduated. Within 2 months, I had already landed myself my first full-time job. I hated every second of it.
I worked for an incompetent manager. The company was going under, and everyone feared losing their jobs. I really didn’t want to spend my early 20’s working for a company that was about to sink, and so I jumped ship.
I quickly landed another job in one of the largest banks in Canada. I was ecstatic. I received a huge pay raise and my team was really young and cool. I learned so much on my first few days on the job. I also got put on various exciting projects where I operationalized a lot of our outdated models. And the icing on the cake? My company actually paid me to study and pass my CPA exam!
My manager was quite supportive of my career progression and within 10 months, I received a promotion to Team Lead. I couldn’t be prouder. I was on my way to achieving my goal of becoming a manager before age 25.
Quitting my job the first time
But then everything started falling apart. My job became stagnant. I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t learning anything new. I had operationalized the job so much that I could basically do it in my sleep. Going to work became such a chore.
The worst part was that my manager refused to allow me to apply to internal postings until after our year-end (which was 6 months away). I was bummed. I felt trapped. I wanted to go on vacation and explore the world. But my manager blacked out a large portion of the year. I decided, it was time to take the plunge and leave my job.
Of course, I spent months deliberating. I still remember it so vividly. There were days when I actually showed up to work crying and would just cry all day at my desk. I was a mess. All the 11 undeniable signs to quit my job were staring back at me.
And on one lovely summer afternoon, I left. I left everything behind. I had never felt so free.
I travelled for 4 months and had the time of my life. I saw so many new places and met so many amazing people. It was really a life-changing period of my life.
Returning home from my 4 months abroad
Then things started getting complicated. I started getting home sick. My mom was getting an operation and wanted me to go home. My bank funds were getting low and a part of me was actually yearning to return to the corporate world to make some easy money.
I returned back home and the whole cycle repeated itself. I had immense pressure from my parents to find a job. They didn’t like the idea that I was not earning money.
Within 2 months, I landed myself another job. Some might call me lucky but others might think I’m cursed. This new job had many great perks. The company boasted a fun and hip vibe (yes, they even won awards for it). The people I worked with were extremely talented and intellectual. I felt challenged and stimulated.
Quitting my job the second time
But something was missing. I still had this inner desire to travel or live abroad. No matter how great the job was or how much I loved my coworkers, I couldn’t make this emptiness inside me subside. So then I decided to apply to jobs and schools abroad. I had virtually no luck on the job front. I did, however, get really lucky with schools. What do I mean by lucky? Well, I actually received a full scholarship from a Swiss university which would cover my tuition and cost of living for 2 years. How could anyone say no to this offer?
I was bummed to find out that most of my friends and family were not as excited as I was about studying abroad. Most of them told me not to take the offer. Their rationale was that I already had a high-paying job and that I really didn’t need further education. Of course, they were right, but I left my job anyways.
Leaving my job for the second time was much easier. Why? Because I’d already done it once. The band-aid had already been ripped off. I knew exactly how to tell my boss I’m leaving. I knew exactly how to say goodbye to my loved ones. I also knew that if things go south and I needed to go home, that I could find a job no problem.
What I learned from quitting my job
Quitting my job taught me a lot of key, life lessons. The first thing I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self is to not try so hard to do everything quickly. Take time to relax and enjoy “downtime” rather than trying to be the best at everything.
I am also super grateful to be surrounded by a close network of supportive friends and family. My family handles a lot of my “dirty work” while I’m away, and it’s truly a relief. My friends are always checking up on me and wanting to hear my latest stories.
Lastly, I am glad that I mustered up the courage to finally quit my job. Quitting my job gave me lots of time to reflect on what my personal values are and what I truly want out of life. I’ve never regretted this decision for a second!
Today I shared a very heart-felt story of how I quit my job twice. I was feeling unfulfilled and I had so many dreams of living abroad and travelling. Even though I had a great job with fantastic perks, I gave it all up for a simpler life as a student. I couldn’t be happier! 🙂
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