About 16 months ago, I quit my first job. I was there for 5 years. It was the only proper job I knew, after graduating. The money was good. The tasks associated to the job, well, after 5 years, one knows it well. Too well, maybe. I’ve been caught at various times, by various superiors, mindlessly clicking away at a very engaging game called Dynomite. Day in, day out. It took me about a year to finally decide, and summon the courage to leave. Having been a sponsored student, all the way to getting a job with the sponsor, you can say that I’ve been pretty spoiled, and the path had all been set pretty securely, without much of my doing. The first few months I started thinking about quitting, I thought I was being selfish and ridiculous. One shouldn’t be allowed these whims.
In the next few months, I started going for interviews, just to see what’s out there. The general consensus from my interviewers was that I was good, but my portfolio wasn’t strong enough. My palette was limited. I could be an actor, but I’d be Keanu Reeves, to put one way.
My interviewers were spot-on. I could tell my work, after 5 years, were all starting to look similar. I no longer bothered coming up with fresh ideas, because most of the time this wasn’t what my client wanted to see. In my junior years, I needed to prove to my hirer that I was good, I was fresh, I was everything they’ve been missing out on. Not so much after a number of years. I had turned into the master of efficiency, stripped of frivolities. “You want template? What color? Coming right up!” I knew what my client wanted, and I gave them exactly that. Not an inch more. No extra sweat labored. Job approved, and I go back to my Dynomite.
Sometimes I even forgot that I work there. (But yes, the world is not short of people who would remind you.)
So, this is all bad, right? But what could tempt me away from a secure paycheck month after month? At that point, nothing. If I had insisted to see it that way, I probably wouldn’t have ever left. You will forever need money, that is unfortunately one of the limiting facts of life.
So I stopped looking at it that way. I glanced at other angles of this problem. I knew I wasn’t happy, and the quality of work was suffering, I was a metaphorical Keanu Reeves (only in the worst matter of ways). I said glance, because if I stared too long, then I would think I was being selfish and ridiculous again.
I gave my parent’s the heads-up, and asked what they think. My dad was awesome, he told me I should leave if I was unhappy. Mom wasn’t so chirpy, but she was fine with whatever I would decide.
I went to Europe for two weeks for a holiday. (Retrospectively, this might not have been the most fiscally-wise decision – but the experience was worth 10 times the money spent).
(Idlan, remind me to write about this Europe trip sometime! :D)
I came back, and tendered my resignation.
It was more of a plunge, than a carefully thought-out thing. Although I did take my own sweet time to decide. But it wasn’t like I had a job lined up for me after quitting. I just knew that I just had to. In my head I drew up a rough, vague plan: chill out and freelance for a few months, beef up the portfolio, then go look for another designing job when 2009 arrives.
My rough, vague plan never actually took place. Instead, I got to stoodle an entire Honda Jazz, draw for my karaoke idol’s album cover, open a booth during Urbanscapes, among other things. Who woulda thunk?!
Had I not taken the plunge, I’d still be mindlessly playing Dynomite at my workdesk, waiting for the clock to say 5pm, then curse through the infuriating Jln Tun Razak traffic before getting home two hours later.
(I still play Dynomite, though.)