It’s okay to leave something, even if it isn’t broken.
I think we’ve all felt it to some extent – that niggling, tiny feeling at the back of your brain saying: but this is fine. Who are you to ask for more? Who are you to want more than this?
I worked in the finance industry for close to five years and there was so much that was brilliant about it. I had reasonable hours, I worked with incredible people, I was paid brilliantly, I was learning interesting things and everyone who heard my job title would be surprised and respectful. I loved how that made me feel.
I loved how it opened a world for me I never knew existed, and I fell into this fantasy of what my life was like as a high-powered, financial professional.
Except…it didn’t really fit with who I was.
I was unhappy in small ways. I was under-confident, I was looked down on by peers (perceived or real, I can’t be 100% certain), I never felt like I belonged and while I never woke up dreading going to work, I didn’t exactly bounce out of bed either. This chipped away at me. I felt smaller and smaller every day, without realising what was happening.
I still can’t even really say why it didn’t fit. It’s been two years since I left and I still have weeks where I think I should go back, constantly seduced by that little voice.
You’ll never get better than this.
That voice is lying, by the way.
For so long, I certainly didn’t feel like I could walk away from a “good job”, and while for me this was definitely about career choices, I think it manifests in so many ways. People stay with partners because it’s convenient, you don’t move flats because you’ve got used to the way things are – we are creatures of habit after all. Of course, there are many legitimate reasons (money, health, family circumstances) that mean you don’t want to make a change, but sometimes it’s that voice that is keeping you there.
For me I never thought that there would be freedom on the other side, having constantly told myself of all the terrors that awaited. The jobs I would never get, the salary I would never earn, the scorn that would rain down on me from everyone I knew.
I never imagined that I’d find a simple freedom that comes in the form of owning my own voice. That comes in the form of wanting to offer my opinion, and believing that it is worth being heard.
There is a freedom in not feeling like a total imposter (because imposter syndrome lives within us all the time anyway) when I walk into a room. It is the joy of feeling like I’ve done good work that I am proud of.
It has taken me two years to get back to this feeling because for so long, I thought that because I didn’t hate it, because I was still being paid well, because I still liked the people I worked with, because everyone told me I was in such a good position – that I couldn’t leave.
It didn’t feel broken, but it wasn’t right for me.
These were my signs:
- I cared more about talking about what I did, rather than actually doing the work I did.
- I felt like I didn’t contribute, and that my opinion wasn’t worth anything (and this was genuinely less to do with the workplace, but more to do with how I felt around the work)
- I didn’t feel like myself – and this one was vague and hard to pinpoint, and has only become truly clear since leaving as I have felt more and more comfortable in myself.
- A pay rise felt a little like a trap – more like something I couldn’t walk away from rather than something to rejoice.
There are so many circumstances that live in between “hating your job” and “finding your passion”. I never felt those two extremes so I thought that because I didn’t hate it, I had to stay, because I had no passion to follow, I thought there was no point looking for something different.
I wish someone had said to me: it’s okay to leave something, even if it isn’t broken.
Because what I have found is a much better fit. A content kind of stability that has given me the space to explore.
For me, this is something that makes you feel like yourself, that strikes a chord between fear and excitement. I still don’t know exactly what that means for me in terms of what job title I’ll hold or what path exactly I’m on…but I do know that I’m getting to whatever it is and, though my path before didn’t feel wrong, this new path is beginning to feel oh so right.
And that voice definitely lied.
There is something better for me, and I’m glad I’m chasing it.