For the past few months I’ve been on a quest to find my purpose. What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Most days it’s work, church, rinse and repeat. I was stuck in a cycle, feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere. I was in my comfort zone. Deep inside I felt like I could do so much more. And be so much more. God has given me many gifts and talents that I wasn’t doing anything with. In fact I was starting to forget that they were there. I was listing to a speech by Les Brown and he was talking about dying. He quoted someone else in saying, “Most people think the ideal way to die is at home surrounded by your family and friends praying with you as you cross over. But what if as you are laying on your death-bed you are surrounded by all of your unused gifts, talents, and ideas and they are staring at you with big angry eyes. They say ‘We came to you! Only you could give us life and you didn’t! Now we have to die with you!’ ” (That may not be an exact quote but you get the idea.) That thought really hit me hard. I don’t want angry eyes staring at me!! So I decided to start making moves.
As the name of this blog implies, I resigned from my job. For the past 6 years I’ve been working as an engineer at a nuclear power plant. I started working there right after college. (Aggie Pride!) Shortly after I started working, I knew that it wouldn’t be for 30 years. I couldn’t. I always told myself that I wasn’t going to retire from engineering. There was going to be a career change eventually, it was just a matter of time.
For years I stayed at my job because of the money (and my awesome coworkers). I had student loans to pay back and I needed that engineering pay check to make those high payments. I would often joke that it takes my degree to pay for my degree. After years of being in that mindset I realized that the more money I made, the more I spent. When I got completely honest with myself I was using my student loans as an excuse to stay where I was, in my comfort zone. You can’t grow in your comfort zone. When you stop growing, you start dying.
I started having feelings that I can only describe as anxiety attacks at work. My heart would start pounding and I would experience this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore. Like there was something bigger out there for me and it was calling me. It felt like there was a caged beast inside my chest that was fighting to get out. I felt like I was going to explode at any moment. I felt like I was going crazy. Rapture Rukus has a song called “Volcano” featuring Jonathan Thulin that illustrates exactly how I was feeling. That song made me realize I wasn’t alone in my crazy. I prayed and asked God what was really going on. Did He really want me to quit my job?! I was okay with quitting but I needed to know for sure that this was the right thing to do. As I sat there trying to process what was happening, I was reminded of a sermon my pastor recently preached about the 12 spies and the Promised Land. The point of the message was if God tells you to go, just go! If He leaves out the details that we think are important that means He’s gonna take care of them. It’s our job to just be obedient. But what about my bills and such? God promises He would take care of our needs. Besides, He already knows what we need before we ask; Matthew 6. This was all well and good but I still needed some confirmation. That very same day, as my friend and I were leaving work he looked at me and said, “I think I’m gonna save my money and quit my job.” My face lit up. It was a done deal.
After I made the final decision to quit, the question became, when? I knew I wanted to do it before fall which at the time was only 5 months away. I prayed about it but I wasn’t getting any answers. I’m the type of person that needs a plan and is always thinking 12 steps ahead. Yes, it’s good to think ahead to some extent so you can be prepared but my thinking ahead is deeper than that. I have a tendency to think ahead and if I don’t foresee the value in something or I don’t believe it’ll work out I just won’t do it. In reality we don’t know how a thing will work out. We can’t see the future. My perception and intelligence is limited. I was getting the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to see the next step until I completed this one. I decided to just pick a date and just do it. My original intent was to give my job plenty of notice so they could hire and train my replacement. I didn’t want to leave on bad terms. This wasn’t one of those “stick it to the man” situations. Everyday I went to work it became increasingly harder to do business as usual. It was like trying to roller skate through mud while breathing through a coffee straw with an anvil strapped to my ankle. I ended up giving a 3 week notice. Once I turned in my resignation letter I felt at peace and the anxiety attacks stopped.
When I tell people about my decision to leave my job to follow my dreams I get mixed responses. Most people are happy for me… after the initial shock. My conversation with my sister was the most fun. She was shocked and thought it was a terrible idea. (I’m the unconventional one in the family so I don’t know why they continue to be surprised by the things I say and do after 29 years but whateves.) I told my sister that I wanted to do something that I love. My sister’s response was “Everybody hates their job. That’s what work is!” And this is common thought. But why? Why is it so far-fetched to actually love what you do? Why is it okay to spend at least 40 hours a week doing something you don’t love? (Don’t get me started on the “American Dream.”) Of course leaving a job without having another one lined up is crazy. Leaving your job to follow your dreams is crazier. But as my sister put it, you have to have the right amount of crazy. The people that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do”. Same applies to people that are crazy enough to think they can change their lives…they usually do.
“All you’re gonna see are ashes. The ashes…”