Quitting Has Me Winning: What I Learned From Unemployment

by Susy Alexandre

For the first time in a long time, I am unemployed. I am unapologetically and painstakingly unemployed. It’s all very bittersweet, and let me tell you why.

On the one hand, there’s the obvious: I’m closing in on being two shades from broke. The no income part is, without a doubt, the kicker.

I’m actually forgetting what my favorite bank teller looks like, for lack of things to do at the bank now that I have no money to deposit. I think her name was Sharon?

Every other week, I would get into line at my home branch, shuffle up to Sharon’s booth and deposit my meager earnings as she would berate my company for refusing to do direct deposits, thus forcing me to pick up my pay from the office and spend my morning at the bank on my day off.

I would never complain about my former gig, but on my days off, spending the majority of it going to and from in traffic just to sort my earnings, I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy listening to someone else rant bitterly on my behalf.

I also have something of a sweet spot for any bank teller who has seen my account balance and not scoffed at the bag sitting on the counter that clearly, I should not own.

So, no income sucks, that’s the one side of things. While most people will focus on this end of things and responsibly stick with their jobs until they can gainfully transition onto the next, I choose to focus on the other end of things.

The other side is pretty simple: I was miserable, and now, I’m not.

To be clear, my misery had little to do with the company I worked for and more to do with my inability to continue working away at something that had given me zero personal or professional satisfaction for over three years.

I had tried my hand at my first “real” job and proven something to myself by sticking it out longer than I (or anyone else) had bet I would.

I quickly learned, however, you can both excel at something and completely detest doing that very thing at the same time. In a nutshell, you can be the best at a job you still deem to be the worst.

I realized some time ago that I needed a change. I started to look at other opportunities and even scored the odd interview here and there.

What I found to be the trouble was that as long as that meager little check was coming every other week, I was operating on the lowest gear of motivation. To know what you want, you need to know who you are.

Some of us are self-starters; in some aspects, this typically applies to me, but for whatever reason, this job was the first time I felt completely stuck.

I had to accept that in order to make a change for the better, I needed to make some kind of change. Some of us require a fire under our asses, some of us do not.

I accepted that I needed to light that match and submitted my resignation.

The lesson is this: If you are not passionate about what you do, you may do it well, but it will do little for you in return.

Sure, the money may come, but money, like everything else, only burns. The feeling that comes with dedicating yourself to something that truly makes you tick has a payoff like no other.

Not everyone has the option to pack up and leave when something doesn’t strike his or her fancy, and I would never recommend it across the board. What I will recommend is waking up.

Wake up the reality of your life. Everyone is destined to do great things, if only we allow ourselves the chance.

The pursuit of happiness will always give you more return than a life lived half-lived, settling for what’s safe or easy.

Open your mind to the idea that there is something out there bound to make you truly happy, and don’t stop until you find it. Which brings me back to the beginning.

I am unemployed. Some days, I wake up terrified about looming bills and financial responsibilities. Some days, I wake up excited about the prospect of the unknown, proud of myself for having taken a big risk outside of my usual MO.

Every single day since, however, I wake up feeling alive, grateful for a day that won’t look exactly like the last. One that could possibly open the door to a world of gainful employment and direct-deposits.

A girl can dream, can’t she? Lucky for me and my newfound tight budget, the dream is free.