Life In The Real World, Day 52: Why I Quit My Cushy, Entry-Level Job Today
There are so many things that I don’t know.
I don’t know what small gestures mean. I read too much into an off look, a curiously loud laugh, a room that suddenly feels quiet.
I don’t know how I come off sometimes. I agonize over mundane things like the right word to use in an online chat or if I’m tweeting too many times in the space of a single hour. I worry that I’ve worn too many blue shirts in the past week, or that the flirty comment I meant to make just sounded like I was making fun of you (I wasn’t). I keep every negative thing that’s ever been said to me chronologically filed away in the back of my brain, even though I’m harder on myself than anyone else ever could be.
And I don’t know why I spend time on questions that I don’t have a hope of answering, the ones that keep me up late, writing some of these blog posts—stupid cosmological swirls that can’t be answered, like why are we here in this exact place at this exact time if we’re all just dust. It’s interesting to me how every person’s life eventually bumps up against that question, as we try to learn how to answer it in our own words.
So yeah, there’s a lot of things that I don’t know. But on the flip side, I’ve come to understand a few non-negotiable truths in the last year or so, realizations about my life and how I want to live it. One of the main ones? I don’t ever want to look back on a time in my life and think that I wasted it. It wouldn’t be fair to me, and it wouldn’t be fair to whoever put me here.
Today I gave two weeks notice at the place I’ve been working since early September. I’d been thinking about it for roughly a month, right after they moved my team away from website copywriting into strictly editorial roles. Today I finally pushed the button.
It was an easy job: every day, put three jobs up online for e-lance writers to bid on, and when they finish input those three jobs into the system. It takes roughly six out of the eight and a half hours we’re there every day (and it would take even less time if our systems moved faster). 15 jobs posted and built a week, and you’ve hit your quota. Any more than that and…good job, but there’s a 573 hour backlog so we better get going. For this, I was getting paid a fair amount of money—not a ton, but taking enough home a week to afford an apartment in Rittenhouse Square and whatever else I wanted.
In a lot of ways, quitting my job could be called the stupid move I’ve yet made in my (admittedly short) life. It’s why my mom called me crying earlier tonight and told me I was making a mistake, that nobody’s hiring in November and I had a steady paycheck and WHY couldn’t I just keep looking for other jobs while keeping my job history intact? I’m sure a lot of people will read this and agree. And that’s fine. I own my mistakes; they’re mine to make.
I don’t want to put my head down for a paycheck and hope that in a couple months, some opportunity might come along. Call it prudence, reason, or whatever else you like—that’s inertia. You pick your head up eight months, a year, two years, twenty years later, and you’re in the same building, maybe in a nicer room. Life isn’t about waiting to go home every day; it’s about finding reasons to go to work.
Why did I quit my job? Because copying and pasting for 6 hours a day and surfing the internet for 2 hours a day isn’t copywriting. Because filling out 7 versions of the same tracking form is obviously inefficient and I don’t want to work for a company where nobody cares enough to fix it. Because hiring dozens of smart people to quickly edit the writing from hundreds of dumb people only gives you a big pile of bad work. Because working at a place where people’s highest incentive is to collect their paycheck is, in a word, soul-crushing. Because I’m going to be 23 in less than three weeks, with barely anything in my life tying me down. Because I’d rather flail for something better and risk the consequences than tread water. Because I don’t want my life to ever, ever, EVER be a grind.
In a few weeks, I’m not going to avoid traffic on I-76 in the morning or wait my turn to complain about sales reps at the coffee machine. I’ll wake up at a reasonable time, cook some bacon, and start searching for a position that gives me something meaningful to do—start building a portfolio again that leads towards a career path that I care about. I’ll pick up some freelance writing for extra cash and try to cook more instead of eating takeout three nights a week.
There are so many things that I don’t know. Maybe in a few years, I’ll look back at these paragraphs and laugh at how ignorant I am to the way the world works. But for now, I want to hold on to this truth that I think I’ve found, that my life will eventually sail in the right direction if I can find the strength to shift the rudder.