I quit my job on Monday with immediate effect.
Now it’s Friday and in hindsight I admit that it was a brash decision.
My exit could have been a lot smoother.
Instead of inspiring memories, like a lover fallen out of love, I slipped out silently leaving a handwritten letter sealed atop my manager’s desk. Hopefully the blow was softened by the return of my work things: a laptop, a phone with a cracked screen and an adaptor that I liberated from being cable-tied to a desk on the floor below.
There wasn’t any applause. I didn’t get to say those two fateful words [take your pick], or see their pupils dilate. They probably wouldn’t have anyway.
But now it’s Friday and while the whole episode felt like a reenactment of Jack’s smirking revenge (that scene in Fight Club when the unnamed protagonist beats himself up in front of his manager), it wasn’t. It definitely wasn’t.
Instead I’m sitting in what I am now keenly aware is an extremely expensive room, in an extremely expensive flat and I’m at a loss.
Maybe living out your resignation fantasies will never be any good unless you have your own Project Mayhem or the warm reassurances of a barrel of space monkeys (yes, more Fight Club references).
So, for everyone’s benefit, I’ve listed six realities I’ve encountered since quitting my job.
1. Money comes before dreams
This one’s obvious. Money, or lack of it, is one of the most painful consequences of quitting your job.
It’s only day five, but I’m already considering throwing out everything in my fridge and replacing it with cheaper items from Lidl. Grim.
But, as a warning, while money was one of my biggest concerns ahead of quitting, concerns are not the same as realities. No, concerns are imaginary and that’s a great life lesson.
I’ll try and rationalise why I didn’t realise that this would be such an issue with an extremely clear analogy:
Having a job is like brushing your teeth, but the benefits are less immediate.
For example, if you don’t brush your teeth for a day or two, if they’re honest, your [girlfriend / boyfriend / other] will tell you that you stink. But I’ve not had a job for a whole five days and I don’t think my flatmates have even noticed.
So, in conclusion, the consequences of not having a job take longer to materialise than the consequences of not brushing your teeth. And who hasn’t forgotten to brush their teeth at least once this week?
(Yes, that analogy didn’t make any sense. That’s the point.)
2. Some people will have an opinion and it’s hard not to let it affect yours
Since leaving a lot of very kind people have checked to see if I’m ok.
Thanks everyone. YES, I’M OK. I know you all read my blog. YES, I’M OK. LEAVE ME ALONE.
Most people have given me space, good advice and occasionally unwarranted commendations for having the ‘balls’ to do it (thanks, you really shouldn’t commend me).
But some have let me know that they disagree with or are bemused by my decision and I wasn’t prepared for how that would make me question myself.
I guess that’s the point. Quitting a job in large organisation where you’re reasonably well paid, regularly praised for your work and have a good relationship with your colleagues could be interpreted as an assault on other’s fundamental beliefs about life. Maybe part of it is.
Facing even limited conflict can erode the certainty of your decision. I’m certain that I understood my reasons for quitting on Monday better than I do today.
3. You develop the ‘unemployed mentality’ and your confidence starts to disappear
Now that I’m liberated, I’ve taken to swimming at London Fields Lido in the morning.
I only mention this, because yesterday when I went to the pool, something strange happened.
When I exited the pool, changed and proceeded to walk barefoot from the changing rooms to foyer, which is the only area that the dictators of London Fields Pool allow you to put your shoes back on, I was accosted by the woman at the desk.
Why? I didn’t immediately know. She explained by pointing at some yellow signs reading ‘DANGER, WET FLOOR’. She then asked me why I’d ignored them and hadn’t taken another route. I hadn’t got this, but the floor had just been cleaned and my feet were messing it up.
I promptly apologised.
I knew straight away that I shouldn’t have apologised. Those yellow signs are always littered about pool and I wasn’t even wearing my shoes. I realised then that to maintain my extremely attractive and confrontational attitude to life, I was going to have to put in some effort.
Unemployment hits you hard and fast.
4. A lot of your social life is work
After I quit, I messaged all of my friends gleefully:
“Hi [insert name], it’s me, Henry! I know I haven’t been in touch for about six months because I’ve been having so much fun at work, but I quit this morning and we should go out tonight to celebrate.”
It turns out that spending excessive amount of time at work and using that as an excuse not to make time for your friends is a pretty shit thing to do. It’s a shock that any of them are still talking to me.
So with no-one else to go out with I had to settle with my girlfriend. She took it well and bought me chow mein at New Noodle Bar, Hackney.
But over the course of the meal, I realised that her way of dealing with the situation (more time with me) might be slightly sinister.
I mean, what sort of restaurant proudly displays a print out of their Hygiene Certificate Level 2 on the wall when they only got 60%? Yes, I think she knew that the dish she ordered was too spicy for her palate. She wanted me to be the only person eating there. And for it to be my last meal.
As I ate, I realised that the saddest part of no longer having a job was that I no longer had any work colleagues to tip off to the fact that my girlfriend’s a psychopath (and that I’m getting paranoid).
5. More time doesn’t equal time better spent
Ahead of resigning, my main work gripe was that I didn’t have enough time. Now that I have a lot of time it’s overwhelming.
So I’ve found that I need to develop a plan. Having spent the last year in project management, the most obvious solution is to make a spreadsheet.
Even outside of work I’m still trying to find new ways to use excel. That’s shit.
6. It’s still the best thing that I’ve done in a very long time
I spent six years working in jobs that I found to be absolute drudgery.
Quitting was the first conscious decision about my future that I’ve made in a very long time.
It’s only day five so I really can’t predict how this will turn out, but despite the five unexpected realities that I’ve listed above, this still feels like the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
It could have been prettier, but as Jeff Goldblum probably says to his dog, “Life always finds a way.“
I mean, there must be opportunities to earn money some other way. And maybe eating rats won’t be so bad.