Tag Archives: sacrifice

Why I Left

Almost ten years ago, I worked at a pharmaceutical company. It wasn’t the dream job I had imagined when I was young, though it very much was a dream job for me during most of my tenure there.

I started off on the ground floor, taking a position at a lower level than I was working previously in order to get into the company. I had recently been laid off, yet another victim of sorts of the 9/11 tragedy. This company was growing and offered a lot of opportunity.

The company went into launch mode six months after I joined, hiring like crazy. I got a promotion, and several others in the next few years, with all the trappings of the so-called “American Dream”. I worked well outside of my job description and loved every minute of it.

It was heady and exciting to be a part of something that felt so significant. I was learning a lot, testing myself and developing new skills, and felt like I was tremendously valued and appreciated while being part of a family of sorts.

Then things changed.

I was now one of 2,000 employees. And worst of all, I got caught up in a political turf war and was uninvited to the launch meeting along with several of my peers. I was crushed. It was as if all the hard work and sacrifice were thrown in my face, and now that the rewards of my work were realized, I was no longer valued.

I was then given the task of doing the same thing in half the time with half the resources– not very inspiring.

I was making more money than I ever thought possible and working in a job that I formerly loved, however, my prior joy was now sucked out. I felt so insulted, and didn’t see the opportunity for growth that I previously enjoyed. After a rough weekend of soul searching, I determined my next step.

Credit to: Stephanie Staples, www.nursetogether.com

Credit to: Stephanie Staples, http://www.nursetogether.com

I resigned.

I was offered a lot more money, but that wasn’t really the point. I just didn’t feel it anymore and money wasn’t going to bring back the joy I once had. People were shocked when they found out I was quitting without a job, and I’ll admit that I felt a little smug about it.

I have never made the money I made while working at that company, nor have I enjoyed any job as much since. However, I’ve never once regretted my decision to leave when the job no longer served me. I’ve always felt that the $1,500 the company saved for my travel to that meeting wasn’t worth the insult to me, nor to my peers, who all left shortly after I did.

I may not find a job I am as passionate about, however, I will no longer sacrifice myself so much for any company. It was a painful lesson learned but a good one, and though I do continue to struggle with my work-life balance at times, thinking back to this time certainly puts things into perspective.

Living in the Now

I’ve always been a future-oriented person, with a strong inner belief that today’s sacrifice makes tomorrow better. When I went to college, I drained my savings in my first year. I worked a lot of hours, working full-time plus over every school break trying to save enough for my next semester. With the help of some financial aid, I managed to make it through my second year. In my third year, my grandparents helped with my rent so I wouldn’t have to take a semester off to work, as even the financial aid didn’t fill the gap of what I needed.

I remember my grandparents’ visit in my senior year of college. They stayed at a hotel near campus, and invited me to stay with them. It was a treat. I fell asleep before them but woke up and heard them talking. My grandmother was telling my grandfather how worried she was about me. I never let her know I heard that, but it stuck with me. For years, I have been afraid of going back to that place where I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills and swore that I would work hard to be sure that would never happen to me again. I was willing to do whatever it took to be sure that wouldn’t ever be my life again.

I sacrificed a lot to get through college, and went into my working life with the same attitude. I would do whatever it took to do well, to prove my worth to my employers. I’d lose large periods of time, only working and going home, but I was sure that it would make my future brighter.

It didn’t. It just made me a willing sacrifice for others to take advantage of.

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When I got laid off last fall, I was determined to take a few months off to enjoy myself. I devoted myself to doing things that felt good, and focused on me: my health and my volunteering. It felt great. When my friends would ask me, “What are you going to do? Aren’t you worried about the future?” I answered no, that I wasn’t giving it much thought. It was scary when I did think about it, so I decided to not to and instead focused on enjoying my time. 

I decided to start my business late last year and thought of it as channeling energy into my short-term future. My goal with the business is to generate income to live on doing work that I find mentally stimulating and interesting with people that I enjoy. I am not trying to map out my long-term future, but to ensure my short-term happiness.

It feels wonderful. Where I used to spend much of my day either planning for the future, or doing things that didn’t feel good because it would help my future, I now spend my day doing what feels good now. It has made all the difference in my happiness.

My future may not be defined; it’s uncertain, and yes, that can be a scary. But I know that that tomorrow will be ok, and that it will come, regardless of how much time I spend worrying about it. I choose to live NOW.