Should I feel guilty about quitting my job?
I feel like a coward for quitting my job during this period because my boss was making it too hard for me to continue. I know I had a valid reason to quit, but how can I stop myself from feeling so bad?
It is not cowardice to remove yourself from a place that is not healthy for you. It is, in fact, courageous. And in the midst of all the fear and uncertainty you might be feeling right now, I applaud you. I’ve been there, to some degree, if you’ll bear with me for a personal story.
My first job out of college broke my heart and made me think that the decades ahead of being a “real adult” were going to be the worst period of my life. The office was full of misery. One day my coworker threw his hands up in the air, nearly in tears, and yelled, “I hate my job.” (He remained there, as far as I know, for several more years.) I was known around the ghostly quiet office for being “the one who laughed.” So after only eight months there, I decided to quit. Without a fallback plan. I figured I could get by as a barista making minimum wage for a few months and be far happier.
First, it’s absolutely essential to note that I rented a one-bedroom apartment for $525 a month, with few obligations other than student loan payments, and could still go back on my parents’ insurance if I needed to. I was in a privileged position. But still, it would have been easier for me to stay put. To stay “comfortable.” Putting in my two-weeks’ notice was a small act of bravery, an acknowledgment of all those Sunday evenings I spent in tears of dread about the next day. I found another job in a new city shortly after that (another privilege), but I would never have moved if I hadn’t gone out on the proverbial limb.
Now, back to you. Look at yourself—you did it! The world tells us that finding a job is one of the most stressful parts of life, but the “leaving a job” part of it is often ignored. It’s not easy. And you did it.
Next, let’s talk about the part where you get to start feeling better about all this.
When we first meet someone, the default question is to ask, “what do you do?” The work we do is a powerful tool of self-identification (and often, a wrong one, because we are who we are despite our careers). So when you leave a role that isn’t a fit for you, it can feel like you’re abandoning part of who you were. But you’re just as whole of a person! Leaving a job is not a loss of who you were; it’s a step in becoming more of who you are and who you will be.
If you view this as a personal failing, I’d most lovingly ask you to reframe it as progress. You are a person who recognizes when something needs to end, even if it might be uncomfortable or uncertain. Read that sentence again and see your own bravery in it. That was you! Embrace your courage, and use it to remind yourself that it’s all part of a forward movement. Feeling bad about this is like feeling bad that you went to sleep when you were tired—you’re just taking care of yourself.
And finally, I’ll leave you with this: Direct your energy towards what you might currently have control over. If it’s not much, find the small things like making sure you water your plants, bathe yourself, and drink your water. If you’re searching for jobs, take care of yourself—it’s a process that can be full of effort with little reward. You’re sorting it out, you deserve patience, and you deserve to feel courageous. Because you are.
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Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.