For the past three weeks I have been writing about how and why I quit my job. But you might wonder why I’m making such a big deal out of it – it’s just a job! Nothing more, nothing less.
Nothing more than a job. Nothing less than a job. That is the problem.
Nothing Less Than A Job
My grandparents grew up in a world filled with political conflicts. They lived in a society where economic security was a luxury only some people had. For my grandparents having a job, money, savings and investments was very important.
Their values were passed on to my parents, who raised their children during the inflation in Finland in the 1990s and who got their share of the economic crisis in 2008. And so, for them having a job, money and savings is also extremely important.
For any of them, quitting a job voluntarily is something that is hard to understand and accept. I think their arguments could go something like this:
”It’s a good thing to have a job. Why quit unless you have another job to go for or some other significant reason for doing it?”
”How can you finance your life if you don’t have a steady income?”
”It doesn’t give a good impression to have quit your job for no proper reason.”
So their three main arguments here would be 1) the economic security of having job, 2) the good reputation you get for having a job, and 3) the norm of having a Monday to Friday nine-to-five-job.
For them having a job is more than just a job. It’s the insurance of a lifetime which you cannot throw away without having some significant reasons for doing it.
But I have grown up in a different world with different values. The working world as we now it is already so different from that my parents and grandparents learned to know. One can create a career online, it’s easier to become an entrepreneur or work half-time while doing projects of your own. But unfortunately, they don’t see the opportunities in the same way as younger generations do. And that’s a challenge.
Only a year ago I believed, for the most part, in the same working values as the rest of my family – and society – does.
Nothing More Than A Job
Now, this is what I think. My job as a radio journalist was only a job and I thought that if I quit it isn’t the end of everything. Rather, it’s a new beginning.
For a long time, I thought I would enjoy being a journalist and that was what I worked for. I had the opportunity to try writing traditional newspaper articles, web-based news pieces and articles and this summer, I tried doing radio. None of them felt right – not in the way I was hoping they would, anyway.
So when I decided to throw away my former dreams of becoming a journalist, it felt like I had the right to do that. I mean, I had tried different forms of journalism without the results I had been hoping for, and felt as if I could motivate my decision to quit as well as I can motivate why I choose chocolate ice cream over strawberry (because chocolate is chocolate – but it goes great with strawberry so if I can have both, I’ll take them).
After all, it was only a job I was quitting. It wasn’t as if I was throwing away my life and absolutely everything I had ever worked for. I had learned new things and values along the way. This job experience had made me wiser and more clear when it comes to my thoughts on what I want to do with my life. I had the opportunity for turning the page and begin a new chapter called ”I quit my job – now what?”
However, not everyone recognize quitting as a new beginning. Not at least in a positive way.
Toughest Conflicts Exist In Your Head
Only a year ago I believed, for the most part, in the same working values as the rest of my family – and society – does. It was important to have a job because 1) it gives you economic security, 2) what else would you do if not work for a company or an organization and 3) it was the decent thing to do.
But a year later, I found myself questioning all three reasons:
1) By proper and realistic economic planning you can plan your year, i.e. how much you need to earn and how much you can spend per month, and still have savings or even invest in something.
2) Finding a job where you enjoy yourself and what you do is extremely hard to find. Especially for HSPs it can be tough to find a work environment that suits one’s needs. Instead, why not work for yourself? It definitely isn’t unheard of these days.
3) This was the hardest thing to question. I had always been the girl who got an A in many of the subjects at school, who worked hard and got the jobs she went for. And now I was thinking – is working in a place I dislike really the decent thing to do – especially if it isn’t what I want to do?
The people-pleaser in me knew that the toughest conflict here was in my head – to do what was the decent thing to do or do what I wanted to do although it was against the norms of the society and my family? Well, as you know, I opted for the more rebellious alternative.
The other conflict in my head was how I would be able to communicate these thoughts to someone who doesn’t (want to) understand my decision. Here, instead of trying to explain the whole truth I decided to tell only part of the truth. This didn’t really make the decision any easier, to know that I wouldn’t be able to answer the question ’why?’ as truthfully as I wanted to. But it felt like a better option than having really complicated conversations with someone who necessarily didn’t even want to understand my decision.
In the weeks before and a week or so after quitting felt as a tough decision. But today it feels like I could do it again, if needed. And that’s a good sign, I’d say.
Now a question to you because I am curious to know – how are the social norms in your family or society when it comes to working? Is it a norm, ’the decent thing to do’ or are you encouraged to embark on your own career path?