The Great Resignation: Why I’m A Participant

An Evolving World

As a Millennial I’ve lived through 9/11, a global economic downturn, and now a global pandemic.  It’s also not likely I’ll see any social security benefits by the time I reach retirement age, regardless of paying into that system my whole working life.  

Fortunately, I am on a trajectory where I shouldn’t need to rely on the system to see myself to a healthy retirement.  However, that isn’t the same for everyone.  And it seems if things continue the way they have throughout my lifetime, the more people will be cornered into working their lives away.  That, though, is a topic filled with more nuance and emotion than I have either the expertise or mental capacity for.

Just the same, I truly think COVID has majorly shifted people’s perspectives on how they choose to live their lives, and what they will put up with.  Hence we’re seeing what has been deemed The Great Resignation. It feels like it was a perfect storm to propel people into saying “enough,” and leaving until something more suitable can be found.  Whatever suitable means to each individual.

My Story

While I can’t speak for every other individual, I can say why I joined the movement.  For me, it was a steady confluence of events over the past two years that pushed me to the brink of sanity, and searching for some sort of clarity in my life.  A journey where rebalancing and finding myself again was key.

It started in the beginning of 2020 with, well, the pandemic.  Just like the rest of the world, I had to learn to deal with the consequences of COVID.  Due to being in IT, my work life relatively easily shifted away from the office and 100% at home.  While it was a drastically large adjustment, it was neither a deal breaker nor something I couldn’t overcome.  In fact, after a few months of fumbling and finding the sweet spot, I was able to make it work.

Working from home.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The first problem, though, was around the same time the world was sent home, my company was also acquired.  With that came slow, but major change.  Change that started with reporting to new management, along with a small portion of my team being transplanted to another to create a blended team, so to speak.  That coupled with the new dynamic of having to work from home meant it was all weightier than if I’d had to deal with each of those things in isolation of one another.

Still in the first quarter of 2020, trying to navigate my way through working from home and massive changing of the guard at work, in March, I lost a close friend to COVID.  This was before we, in the United States, knew the scope and well before there was a vaccine.  At this point, life was starting to feel heavy and the mental toll was definitely adding up.  

As the year progressed, my work life got more strange, not to mention far less fulfilling as the culture at my job was steadily eroded.  That said, there were no considerable shake ups, until there were, and seismically so.

Come November I was facing the most stressful change at work to date.  I endured my first on-call shift since the mothership swooped in and gobbled up my old company.  The whole week was nightmarish.  It was filled with bad processes, a long weekend, and my phone ringing at every hour of the day and night.

The last day of that week-long on-call shift, the momentous news came.  My mom was in the hospital.  It was the day before thanksgiving and I was suddenly feeling a lot less thankful.  She’d gone in because my dad noticed jaundice in her eyes.  As it turns out, her liver was failing due to autoimmune disease that was unbeknownst to us.

Fast forward and she’d spent most of the month of December in the hospital, in exception of about half a week.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Day are all forever tattooed with the memory of the hospitalization of my mother.  She never came out.  She passed the second weekend in January.

Meanwhile, two days before she transitioned I had a root canal (my first ever), as earlier in the year I’d started Invisiline to close some small gaps between my teeth.  Somehow that wound up causing the root system in one of my teeth to die, ultimately requiring the procedure.  

Not too long after that, since my mom died of autoimmune disease I decided to get tested for it as it’s genetic.  Despite having no obvious symptoms, I tested positive, and I’m now going through additional testing with a number of doctors to pinpoint what exactly it may be.

Among all of this, between January and July, I also lost two coworkers, both of whom were friends, to COVID.  The tally continued.

At this point, my world was incomprehensibly shattered.  Broken beyond expression, I was now barely functioning.  My days were spent trying to be a human, yet I couldn’t find the capacity.  By May and June of 2021 my level of functioning was near nil.  Come mid July my manager had a virtual sit down with me to talk about my productivity, or lack thereof.  The next day I put in my notice.

It was time.  I’d spent the full previous month in a state of paralysis, unable to comprehend life.  A world without my mother was simply unfathomable, and life was still flying at me without me being capable of returning its volleys.  It stands still for no one. 

I sat at the keyboard for at least an hour a day crying uncontrollably.  Whether I’d make it to the next day was unknown.  Not to mention, what was once my dream job with the dream team was no longer.  The job I worked was barely recognizable anymore.  So I quit.

The After Effects

With no other job lined up, I walked away from it all.  Albeit risky, and a monetary black hole, I’d do it again under similar circumstances.  Months of being away from the continual grind have allowed me to get closer to center than I have been in some time.  Am I still broken?  Very much so.  As I write this, I’m less than a month past finding out I lost yet another friend. I knew him since I was 14.  I don’t know if I would have survived it all had I not taken the leap.  

I’m exorbitantly thankful I was able to maintain the same standard of living while being able to find myself again without the hindrance of a nine-to-five.  I’m certainly privileged to be able to have done so.  Just the same, I am back on the hunt for a job, however picky that hunt may be.  I am going to ensure the next gig doesn’t mean sacrificing my now precipitous mental health for a dollar.  It’s a fine balance, but I think I am on the right path.

Even though I wasn’t in a low wage job, I can appreciate all the more why those in low paying jobs are willing to quit for being overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid.  A job is a single facet of life; a life that has to be lived just as much when you’re off the clock, because it certainly doesn’t stop.  Next time you hear about someone who’s quit their job, please remember that is only a single part of the intricate web that constitutes their life.

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