I Quit My Job Mid-Pandemic?!
If you would have told me in January of 2020 that in August of that same year I’d quit my job with no official backup plan, I would have told you that was a completely asinine idea.
I can hear January 2020 me balking at the preposterous notion of making such a wild prediction. After all, I had the first 6 months mapped out and designed perfectly.
Travel was booked through the beginning of June with both work and personal dalliances. Client work in Boise, Dallas, Anaheim, and Orlando, to name a few. Springbreak in Tampa. Culminating in a yearly charity gala in Beverly Hills.
Boise was the only trip I’d execute.
The onslaught of quarantine brought a slew of adjustments to be made. On a professional level, it felt like there were two sides to the coin, with no in-between.
Tails: Absorb the vacant positions and watch life become a 24/7 blur of work.
I was on the tails side.
Add in the poor attempts to balance homeschool for a 5th grader and Kindergartner while my husband worked 24-hour shifts as a Firefighter/EMT and I was on a fast track to an overwhelming case of burnout. Actually, it was more than burnout. It was a feeling of complete exhaustion and failure. If he was gone, I’d be so wrapped up in work, my Kindergartener wouldn’t touch a pencil or flip over a single flashcard. Reflecting back, my kids came in dead last behind an anxious panic to prove my worth and keep my job. I was clinging feverishly to an identity that now seems extremely surface-level.
My biggest takeaway from those tumultuous moments; my job title does not define me.
I kept thinking “let me survive until May when school is out and I can focus less on their curriculum and more on my work again. Life will be so much easier.”
I truly thought come May we’d be out of the woods. We’d be on our way to re-opening the country, surely the kids would be back in school fulltime come August and I could resume working toward the intense career goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2020.
As the summer forged on, it was clear no such “return to normal” was going to happen. The heavy conversations shifted from why we had to wear masks in public, couldn’t spend time with grandparents and friends, or play sports to attempting to make a 6 and 11-year-old understand how to be a better ally to the Black community by overcoming any previous unconscious social biases.
It was a heavy summer. It continues to be a heavy fall. When I finally took a few moments and let go of the insanely unachievable expectations I set for myself, I started to see the areas that were in my control to adjust. But it wasn’t the “normal” areas or answers to the problems I would have chosen in pre-pandemic life. And that was scary.
The realization smacked me harder in the face than my rambunctious 6-year-old when he thinks he’s John Cena. It was day 2 of virtual learning and I was bound and determined to execute my work while simultaneously teaching my 1st grader. Good luck to my 6th grader, she was inherently on her own because how could I teach them both AND do my work? As a parent, it’s hard to admit, but once again she stayed on the back burner those first few days.
Side by side at the kitchen table we set up my computer and his iPad and got to work. I would go from reading his lessons to him to analyzing digital traffic while I answered emails and texts, then back to him when he needed me to explain the next slide in his assignment, help him sound out his reading words, or video and submit his gym assignments.
Finally, in what was probably the 30th ping to my phone in as many minutes he looked right up at me with the big puppy dog brown eyes he got from his momma and said “I bet you wish I was gone all day don’t you?”
As a parent, there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than realizing your kids feel unwanted in your presence. I thought the morning was going well. I thought we were going to be super productive side by side, but I never stopped to think about how this set up would affect his perception. At 6, all he wants is our full attention. Actually, it’s what he NEEDS, especially as he’s attempting to understand his home is now his classroom and not just a place of rest and recreation.
It was at that very moment I knew I couldn’t sustain the professional position I was in while giving them the support they need to not just survive homeschool but thrive in it.
That Friday I gave my notice. With no job lined up. No clear plan ahead. Just up and quit. In the middle of a pandemic, civil unrest, and threats of a crumbling economy.
Now I will admit, I do have a small side hustle of contract work that allows me to generate some income, but letting go of a secure salary without another lined up was easily the wildest thing I’ve done in my life.
When I decided and started telling family and friends, I realized I wasn’t the only human feeling insane amounts of pressure to work at the same level I did pre-pandemic while absorbing so many new roles in my personal life. As scary as it might sound, I’m going to document it all; the good, the bad, the happy, and the frustrating. All in hopes, I figure out what’s next along the way. So if you’re in a phase of limbo or not knowing where to go next, feel free to follow along, and let’s figure out how to reinvent ourselves together.