I Quit My Job: Part II

June 21, 2021

Welcome back to part II of my story, if you havent read part I click here . Now that you are caught up let's pick up where we left off.
After my Dean's resignation, I fully exhausted the five stages of grief and loss; denial (maybe the college leadership could change their mind, listen to her needs and adjust?), anger ( I drafted an open letter to the faculty and staff, it was RAW and I read it to two people I trusted the most and both said to sleep on it and if I still felt the same way, send it in the a.m., sound advice! Emotion is good but you never want to act out of emotion, easier said than done), bargaining (I thought this letter would spark a change, it would move people towards self reflection and together we could confront ourselves and chart a different course), depression (I felt this throughout but especially after I wrote this open letter and read it out loud), I knew on a deep level that everything changed and I couldnt change the situation so I had to leave and finally acceptance. I knew that I was past my expiration date, I was resentful and resentment is not sustainable, it was time to move on, but first...rest.
November- December 2020 I was tired, the deep feel-it-in-your-bones kind of exhaustion. The kind of exhaustion that leaves you unable to function, feeling disconnected from your own body, brain fogged and just burned out. My body needed rest and I hadnt given it any in over a year. After the change of leadership and a few meetings to catch up I put in a request for a three week vacation to use my use it or loose it time and leave (thanks CUNY-PSC union). I needed to be away from my laptop, away from zoom, away from my calendar, away from my cellphone and catch ups and questions and just everyone and that is just what I did. The stress my body was under for all of those months having to now move into rest mode felt nearly impossible. I found myself unable to sit and watch t.v., without getting up to sweep, or clean a dish or wipe down the kitchen counter and when I forced myself to sit, my mind raced. The thoughts, ruminations and negative talk happening in my head all of the time wore me out. It took me nearly two weeks to just detox from the anxiety and stress my body had absorbed. Side Note: This is not ok. This capitalist society lies to us and tells us that stress is par for the course. Productivity is our purpose for being. Do more. Be more. Give more. No. I have learned this is the biggest scam of our time. This hustle culture is set up to squeeze us dry in an effort to make someone else money while having us chase the "almighty dollar" to feel happy, valuable and worthy, of note. HA! I spent the final days of my break reaching out to friends, stretching, meditating, journalling, reading and doing research to validate my lived experience. It is strange to read that last part but when you are gaslit and abused in this kind of way you honestly cant trust yourself. That is the point of gaslighting, you make the other person feel like all of this is normal and their reaction to it is what is abnormal. It renders you unable to trust your own experience which keeps you in a bad situation much longer. On New Years Eve, I drafted up my letter of resignation prepared to send it the following Monday.
January 4, 2021 At 9am on the nose, I hit send on that email! I felt all the feelings, all of them but I knew this was the right thing to do. But how did you know Erica? I just knew it and the only way I can describe this knowing is to compare it to a breakup. Especially the final breakup if you have been trying to get out of a relationship for a while now. You know, you breakup but keep going back because history, fear, comfort, the devil you know..who hasnt been there? Well if you have, you know there is a moment of deep peace and stillness, like you just KNOW this is it. There is no hestitation. You've made peace with the decision and there is NOTHING he/she/they can say or do that can change your mind. Your mind is made up and whether they accept it or not doesnt matter cause its over. That deep peace is what I felt when I submitted my resignation, god it felt GOOD! Considering I had been out for three weeks and ten years of work to hand over to the team I gave them a full month notice. The standard is 2 weeks but it felt wrong to me and I had to continue to trust my intuition so I have them 1 full month until my last day.
Let's Talk About Finances So the burning question I know I would have is what about money!?! How can you afford to resign from a job without having another lined up? I get it, this system is set up to keep you in a constant cycle of working to buy things and pay bills which require you work so you can make money to buy more things and pay more bills, if you boil it down to its simplest form, that is what we are taught life is all about. I wasnt born with a silver spoon in my mouth or a trust fund. I come from a working class background and the working class, works. We are the backbone of the economy and this economy chews us up and spits us out allowing us to retire at 65 (if you are lucky) to live out your remaining years caring for your ailing, aging body. Back in 2017, I shared on this very blog the beginning of my low-buy, minimalist, mindfulness journey. My son made me aware of all the shopping I was doing and we challenged ourselves with 30 days of no shopping except for necessities like food etc.. This challenge ignitied a journey towards self awareness. I started to look at my credit card bills and my bank account statements carefully, where was I spending my money and how much and could I cut it down at all? The answer was yes. I slowly stopped buying fast fashion, turned to thrifting and then to shopping my own closet, I stopped eating out for lunch everyday and packed a lunch instead, I started making coffee at home instead of stopping at DD or Starbucks and even cut down on eating out for dinner where I could. I started to think of other ways I could spend time and catch up with friends that didnt come up to a $50 cocktail bill which lead to other changes which lead to less money spent and more money saved! I cant explain how rewarding it is to take control of my spending habits, set and realize my long term goals and to grow in awareness of my relationship with money. In short, I was able to give myself this safety net by trimming a lot of the fat in my life and growing my savings account. I didnt know it at the time but all this work I was doing would eventually put me in a position where I could resign from my job and take a short hiatus while I healed. I know there are some advantages that I have which is that I earned a good salary, I own a home so my mortgage payment is pretty low compared to the CRAZY rents Ive seen advertised, and I am married so we split our expenses down the line and I am now covered under his health insurance which saved me a ton. Even still, a closer look at where your money is going and where you might be able to save might be a worth while excercise. I am sure in 2020 with everything closed down and social activities cutdown to 0 you might have been able to see how much money you were saving overall, lean into that a little more if you find yourself in a similar position. That Last Month The last 30 days was awkward to say the least. We were all still working from home, dealing with the very public resignation of our Dean, the never ending pandemic and many other losses. I think my colleagues were shocked and surprised by my resignation. We were a pretty tight knit group and now our time together was ending and we hadnt physically seen each other in nearly a year. It was a lot. I understood that I wasnt the only one left somewhat numb from the entire experience but I really couldnt focus my attention on their perception of the events that led to my resignation. It was my time to close things off, hand things over, clean out my office and move on. Acceptance of a situation that no longer serves you can be tricky and I dont mean to make light of it but I have been here before, many times, in my life. In order to welcome in a new chapter, I had to be willing to accept the ending of one. I was filled with many emotions but none of them included doubt or regret. I knew my time with the institution and my colleagues was over. I cleaned out my office and handed in my laptop and closed the chapter.
What Now? Therapy and Job Search The first month after my resignation was very hard. I would cycle through the same feelings I had when I took time off in December, rumination, inability to relax and be present, and other self destructive inner dialogue. At the time I was putting so much pressure on this time of my life. I would do ALL the things work hadnt allowed me to do, I would write that best selling novel, I would master a full split, start pumping iron and get into that athletic body shape I knew I was destined for, I would master yoga and meditation, I would start a side business, basically all the things and all of the pressure that came with thinking that I had to show something for my time off. We have all been conditioned to believe that our growth has to result in some tangible product that others can witness and that perhaps you can sell on the open market, but oh my friends have we been taken down the wrong path. I now know that I must trust the timing of my life. I had been through a VERY difficult and traumatic experience what I needed more than anything was to heal. My body needed so much rest and I had to learn to give it without judgement, without saying, "well why are you so tired, you arent working, you should be doing this instead." That kind of thinking led to waking up with anxiety. My inability to allow myself to just BE was wreaking more havoc on my already burned out body. Healing is not linear and while I focused on the good habits I had created over the last three years including excercise, journaling, yoga and new to me meditation my pain was too great and I knew that the burn out and trauma I had endured for half of my time there coupled with COVID required I seek professional help. I have seen a therapist before when I was struggling through my son's adolescence so the concept was not foreign to me but this was a bit different. I was the one in crisis and I needed help. I am three months in to my therapy work and it has been a game changer. I am learning self awareness, acceptance and how to be present and grateful for all of the wonderful people that my life includes. The first month was the most challenging but I stuck it out, did my homework, admited things to myself and my loved ones that a year ago wouldnt have been possible and learning to grow into the next chapter of my life knowing how valuable and worthy I am. In terms of my job search, I am browsing and have applied to a few positions that I believe align with my new found perspective. I havent had any bites yet but I know that the right position will be mine. I am FULLY enjoying my funemployment. Learning who I am outside of an institution, job title, and salary. I am writing more and have an idea for a book I'd like to write. I have a consulting opportunity outside of the U.S. that I am preparing for and will share more about once things become more official. I am reading SOOO much! I have already read 30 books this year alone. I am studying, learning, reflecting, finding joy in slow living and self exploration. I am learning I dont have to be perfect in order to be loved. I am a human having a human experience and I deserve the very same grace I give so freely to others. I am learning where to set my boundaries and speak my truth. I am learning to check in with myself to see what I am feeling so that I can clearly communicate them to my loved ones. I am learning to flow with life. Silence my ego and be present. Letting go of this control I always thought I needed to have in order to live an ordered life has been the biggest breakthrough for me. I am learning to flow through my feelings instead of supressing them. I am learning to rest for the sake of resting, not because I need to earn it but because my body deserves it. After taking much time to rest and produce nothing I am back on IG posting regularly, getting back to my blog AND kicking off my youtube channel. None of these things, including landing a job with a fancy title and a bloated salary define my value, I know that now and armed with that knowledge I can search and create freely, without expectations. I am creating for the sake of creating and that feels so good! Thank you for sticking around. I hope that sharing my story will help you write your own. Until next time,

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