Two Years Ago, I Quit My “Real” Job

RyanAir flight from Dublin, Ireland

First off, I’m not going to write this like some big inspirational “just keep dreaming your dreams, go for what you want in life, and it will manifest itself” sort of post. I don’t kid myself in thinking that there isn’t an incredible amount of privilege involved in me doing what I’m doing. I’ve got a safety net of family members and friends, and most of them have housed me for days, weeks, or months over the last two years (and even well before that). Along with that, I know that I have options in terms of employment in case things get to the point where I need to pull the plug on my adventure. Well, at least I’m telling myself that I’m employable and I could find a job if I wanted one. Granted, it might not be in my field (whatever that is), but I think I could always teach English somewhere. In fact, it was my past work in South Korea that also helped me get to the point where I was able to give my notice at the digital marketing agency I had put roughly four years into (there was a six month break while I was working in the aforementioned SK, but I still did some writing for them from there). Thanks to the money I made in SK, I was able to pay-off my student loan, and that left me with more financial freedom than I had experienced in years.

Of course, I could go on with plenty of other reasons as to why I’m in a position that I try not to take for granted, but that in itself could be a post. Or two. Or three. So, instead I just want to stress the importance of doing at least some little thing to make yourself happy when possible. Whether that’s buying a chocolate bar on the way home from work or taking a 3-month trip to Central America is up to your circumstances and you. Truth be told, none of us know what we’re doing and I have not met a single person yet who really felt 100% confident that they were on the right path. There are so many things in place to make us question all of that, and it’s hard to ignore them at all times. So, just try your best. It may not always lead to white beaches and picture perfect sunsets to fill your Instagram account, but I hope it gives you a reason to smile every now and then.

And now, a bit about my journey into a semi-sarcastic state of retirement.

The decision to quit didn’t come quickly and it wasn’t made lightly. There were plenty of reasons why I returned from South Korea to work with the agency I had left, and many of those were good enough to keep me around for over two years. Even though things were obviously souring and people were quitting on a regular basis, I held on and considered it growing pains. I had dealt with similar changes with a previous agency, and I was hopeful that things would improve.

However, by the time I had my Project Manager basically tell me to just shut up and do the work, I knew it was time to go. Plus, touching again on privilege, I had two friends offer me a cheap room in Costa Rica and the offer (along with the price of a one-way ticket there) was just too good to refuse.

So, on September 12, 2014, I had a final Skype session with my boss (I was working out of the office in Montreal at the time) and that was that. To be honest, I still have a slight reaction to the Skype noises due to how stressful the job had become. Soon after, I was making preparations to meet my friend’s partner in Toronto before we both headed to Ciudad Colon where she was already settling-in.

From there, the rest is a varied history of living out of a backpack, touring through the States and parts of Canada, house sitting in British Columbia, releasing The Book of T.O.F.U., and eventually making my way back across Canada and over to Europe in the last few months.

Now, I’m in England. I actually just arrived this morning from Ireland (my first flight with Ryanair, hence the photo up top), so I haven’t had a chance to really soak it all in, but I’m here. Two years ago, I had no idea where I would be by now, but I just knew that I didn’t want to be working for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve debated doing just that time and time again, and I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments in the future. I’m in no way as financially stable as I was back when someone else was paying me, and I’ve been living on a rather tight budget in terms of many things. Luckily, house sitting has helped to keep my expenses low, but one still has to eat! However, I still don’t regret sending that email three weeks before my final day.

Do I know what life will be like two years from now? No. Do I know what I’m going to do when it comes time for me to really think about retiring? No, and it scares me to think about how poorly prepared I am for life further down the road, but right now this feels right. Of course, if you ask me in a week or two when I’m out of British Pounds and having to either use my credit card with a terrible, terrible exchange rate or dipping into my meagre bank account to withdrawal some cash that way, I might feel differently!

For now though, I’m going to sleep in a bed that a friend has been kind enough to offer me in her home despite the fact that we only knew each other through a few online conversations about fat positivity within the vegan community, and tomorrow I’ll start my adventure in England.

It might only involve hours on my laptop and some cheap meals in the apartment while Manchester rushes around outside, but I’m okay with that. It’s a lot better than what I was doing just two years ago!

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