Are you crazy? This was the question whizzing through my mind as I handed in my resignation. I was in a relatively well paid job, worked with lovely people but I wasn’t ‘happy’ (using this term loosely). The decision to leave wasn’t sudden, I prayed and agonised over it for months but as soon as the decision was made, I was at peace even if it appeared nonsensical to the world. A wise friend once told me that whatever brings you peace should be the guide when making difficult decisions.
In the months leading up to my resignation I had become increasingly unhappy, very negative and critical about work to my nearest and dearest. I was use to working in an environment where there’s lots of changes but this was more than change; it was chaos. The organisation seemed to be in a constant state of flux and my role, for all intents and purposes, was unclear from the outset. I should have known any role created off the back of a restructure would be an experimental one but in my naïveté and relative inexperience, didn’t foresee the almost insurmountable frustrations and challenges.
But more than this I came to realise I was tired, fatigued of work and life. I needed a proper break not just a week’s holiday, I needed proper time to rest and recuperate. How can you need a ‘break’ at the tender age of 30? What are you having an early mid life crisis? These were the questions whirling round in my mind.
Earlier this year I lost my dad, two years ago my great uncle/grandad and two before that my godfather. All had died from debilitating illnesses which had made these once healthy, fit men bed bound and utterly dependent even for the smallest of tasks. After five years of trauma and delayed mourning I finally hit a wall and realised; I needed to rest.
Before taking the decision I spoke with my mum and big sister and in true Afropolitan style they were naturally concerned for me. My mum (bless her) began to panic slightly. ‘Are you sure you can’t make it work?’ ‘How are you going to pay your bills?’ I completely understood her concerns. In fact I could hear my dad’s voice saying as he often did ‘make sure you have another job to go into, don’t just leave, you hear?’ His theatrical Nollywood imagination would have gone into overdrive frightened that his ‘little girl’ would end up destitute and on the streets.
I didn’t take the decision lightly, nor do I encourage anyone else to. I am not generally a quitter, I try my best to stick things out. As an eternal optimist I will exhaust every angle and try to ‘make it work’ but sometimes you just have to let go and move on, especially when it begins to affect your mental health.
Similarly I made the decision knowing that I had a little financial cushion to fall back on, at least for a few months. As much as the decision may have appeared irrational and sudden, I was sensible and would encourage anyone else thinking of doing the same to consider having at least 2- 3months outgoings set aside as contingency.
The moment I made the decision I felt such peace in fact I could audibly hear God say that I had been ‘set free’ – wow. Anyone who knows me knows that I need constant reassurance; contingency is my middle name- ‘what if”?’, evidence is essential for any decision making and I like to ruminate on things for a long while before saying yay or nay. But God was calling me to step out and have faith and make a decision about the future to trust Him even thought was l clueless as to what the future ‘looked’ like. I only know that I needed to let go of this job and ‘make space’ for Him.
I was angry it had taken me so long to come to this conclusion, letting myself become so negative and critical in the process. I had promised myself a few years back that I would never allow myself to get to this point. In fact, I remember working in a well known hospital’s admin department surrounded by very negative people, perpetually grumbling about their jobs and about each other; to the extent accusations about theft and managers making nasty comments about people’s sexuality in full view of other staff were commonplace. Now even I am not that naive to think there is a perfect work environment; but this place was particularly nasty. I made a vow that day to never allow myself to become ‘one of them’ to hate my job so much that I would become infested with bitterness and negativity. I didn’t have a mortgage, husband and children yo provide for, just little old me so I could ‘afford’ to do this; the cost of staying in a job which was slowly killing me from the inside was an even greater cost I couldn’t afford to pay.
As I handed it in, my new manager (who is wonderful!) tried to negotiate; ‘Did I want to take a sabbatical instead?’ ‘Would I be interested in another job?’ They could amend my role to suit my emerging passions? No was my answer. I just knew I couldn’t be in that environment -slowly chipping away at my confidence, eroding my creativity, making me stagnant, frustrated and lazy- drinking tea and pretending to do something meaningful – I just couldn’t do it anymore. Even a mini ‘campaign’ from beautiful colleagues to get me to stay wasn’t enough.
Since I have told people the most common follow up question is if I have another job to go into and have I been looking. This is an obvious question to ask but one, if not careful can be presented in such a way that it induces slight panic; basically it’s the equivalent of saying ‘get a move on, what are you waiting for?’ I know most people who do ask this do so out of genuine concern, care and curiosity. Truth is I have been looking, have had a few interviews ( been unsuccessful) but I am not in a rush (until my bank account says otherwise). I just don’t have the mental or physical energy to give 100%to a career job at this moment.
Others have called me courageous, some crazy, others still, inspiring – the list goes on. All I know is that I need to be true to my truest self and obey God. And as crazy as it sounds I know that He has got my back (I have put money aside to). No longer do I want to operate from a place of scarcity and desperation I.e. There are not enough jobs take the first thing that comes etc. I will look and I will apply all in the right time praying to be planted in the right place where I can grow and contribute meaningfully.
For now I am looking forward to filling my days with the following: visits to as many parks as the British weather will permit; listening to great music live or otherwise; making a dent in my five year long reading list; writing; singing; playing piano; seeing family and friends; sleeping; exercising; getting work experience in other areas I am interested in (never too late to start all over and learn new things); spending quality time with God….
This is a time to pause, reflect and redirect. What do I really want from life? If I hush the noise all around and forget about the rat race what have I been ‘called’ to do? What are the dreams in my heart that won’t go away but keep resurfacing the more I try to suppress them?
Since losing my ‘three kings’ the cliche ‘life is short’ has never rung truer; my time on earth is finite and there is simply no point wasting it on what doesn’t matter. I owe it to myself and I owe it to them (my earthly father figures gone to rest and my Heavenly one) to live the very best possible life I can and to give my dreams a chance to grow.