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Passion Over Paycheck: Why I Quit My Job At 30 To Start Living

Life & Travel

At the end of each year, I would tell myself, "This is it. This is the year I'm quitting. I'm not going into the next year with this job." And each year, for the last six years, I stayed.


There was that one time, three years ago, where I called myself trying to quit. I was fed up with the stressors of a job that was draining me to all hell and, quite frankly, wasn't paying me enough for what I had to endure. I was unfulfilled, overworked, bored, and lacked purpose.

I had resigned to drinking wine every night just to have the strength to crawl into bed and deal with the next day. I knew at that point, this job was affecting not only my mental state, but my physical health, so I needed to go.

I typed up my resignation letter, courtesy of a template I found on Google, and confidently printed and signed it. But I couldn't work up the nerve to hand deliver it to my boss. I wasn't ready. I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and making a drastic change.

I allowed my fear to override my wellbeing and, like a bad relationship, I convinced myself my situation would improve.

And to further endorse my illusion that it would get better, I would receive the occasional promotion and the "good-job-pat-on-my-back" speech from my employer. So, I stayed. And the longer I did, the more I allowed my job to determine my value, build my validation, then squander any vision I had of a life of true fulfillment and happiness.

Before this year, I lived in a risk-averse universe where I subscribed to a model of comfort, structure, and meticulous planning – perfect for the office cubicle career as an Accountant. On paper, the job was ideal. I had a decent salary along with a small bonus to cushion it, and annually, I received superb acclamations regarding my job performance. But internally, I was a wreck.

My life was all about work, which I may have been okay with if I loved my job, but I didn't. I wanted nothing more than to be the person I always dreamed of – the intelligent, thought-provoking witty writer with a passion for travel. However, as a risk-phobic individual, I was afraid of stepping out of the ever-turning hamster wheel known as the corporate workforce. I refused to give myself permission to explore and pursue my authentic dreams because of the fear of failure and, for almost seven years, I suffered in silence due to my lack of courage to change my circumstances.

Then in January 2018, I embarked on a trip to LA. Somewhere between Beach Yoga with Brad (not Pitt, unfortunately) and writing affirmations by the ocean at sunrise, it became clear to me that I needed a change in my life. So, I forced myself to confront my fears and contemplate my next steps. Yes, starting over was going to be scary, but I knew I didn't want to live out my 30's the same way I lived my 20's. It was time for me to live a life of purpose and passion.

Two weeks later, Google template in hand, I quit my job.

Leaving behind my career was the most difficult but freeing decision I've ever made in my adult life. Making the decision has elevated me from a person who fears risk, to someone who is willing to face any battle head-on. My self-esteem has slowly grown, and every day I discover new things about myself as I push the bar in my life and enter a new decade. I no longer make choices based on fear and the need to survive; I live my life for the need to thrive. I know the road ahead won't be easy, but I'm committed to the journey, and if I need a change, I know I have the strength and the wherewithal to start over at any time.

Because life doesn't begin or end at a certain age, there aren't any rules about how it should be done. The power to be who I want to be lies within what I'm willing to accept and when I'm willing to change.

Featured image by Getty Images

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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