I’ve always been told to never quit a job unless you’ve got another one to replace it.
I know it’s a bad idea to walk away from a steady income, especially when you’ve got bills to pay.
I’ve heard the horror stories of unemployed 26-year-olds living in their mom’s basement, binging Netflix and not contributing to the world.
Okay, that last one is a little dramatic, but you get what I’m saying.
Don’t leave your job unless you have another job. Common sense.
However, despite my screaming logic and my 21 years of knowledge, on October 31st, 2019, I left my full-time job.
Do I have another job to go to?
No. (Not yet.)
Do I have a reliable source of income?
Am I content with my decision?
The job I had was a good fit at the time. I was desperate to get out of my work situation at the time and I needed a full-time job for when I moved to Grand Rapids. This job checked both those boxes.
All of my coworkers were fantastic and my supervisor was kind and understanding. The pay was reasonable. The work was simple.
So why did I quit?
My body told me I needed to.
Each morning, the second I thought about work, my stomach tightened. Nausea began to kick in. I figured it was a stomach bug and pushed through. The first few weeks were fine, I only felt sick 20% of the time.
Then the eye twitch. As I was sitting at my work desk in my apartment, my left eye twitched. It was small and quick, so I didn’t think much of it. I kept making calls.
The next day the twitch struck again, this time slightly firmer and more frequently. I wrote it off as excess caffeine and told myself to skip my morning tea. I kept making calls.
Day three came, and it was only getting worse. It was now a complete spasm of my eye and eyelid that lasted about 10 seconds and occurred every 3-5 minutes. On the phone —twitch. In the bathroom — twitch. On the road — twitch. Before bed — twitch.
After some brief research, I determined that this eye twitch was the result of stress. But what was I stressed about? Well, I just moved not too long ago. Yes, that must be it.
Slowly, over about two weeks, the eye twitch subsided. Relived, I was certain that that would be the last of my health issues.
And it was.
Until about a week later.
In between phone calls in the middle of my work shift, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. Having asthma, these pains happen occasionally. But I wasn’t short of breath. No, the tightness in my chest had nothing to do with my crummy lungs. So why was I having a hard time regulating my breathing? Why did my chest feel suddenly tight, like a weight was being lowered onto my sternum?
I didn’t know why my body was so upset at me all of a sudden. The knot in my stomach. The aggressive eye twitch. The tightness in my chest. What was triggering this?
It took a few weeks of journaling and counseling to identify the problem, which I knew but had been denying the entire time.
It was work.
But what about work was making me sick? I’ve worked calling jobs before. I may not have loved them, but I never once got sick like this. Never once has my body physically rejected work.
I began to point out things I know to be true about myself. I work best when I’m around others. I strive to build relationships. I like being part of a team. I thrive in discussion. I prefer moving around and jumping from task to task. I have a hard time sitting still, and—
Suddenly, things began to make sense. The nature of my role is independent and isolating. The nature of Kim is extroverted and collaborative. On paper, it was a good fit. But looking at who I am as a whole, it was clear that I am not qualified whatsoever for this role.
My counselor used a helpful analogy to help me wrap my head around the situation:
“Do you like shoe shopping?”
“…yes, when I have money.”
“Of course. So you go shopping and you see the perfect pair of shoes, just what you were looking for. You try them on, but they don’t fit right. They’re too small. Or, when you walk around, they’re uncomfortable and they hurt. Does this mean that there is anything wrong with your feet?”
“No, of course not. It just means that the shoes don’t fit.”
If the shoes don’t fit, don’t wear them anyway and damage your feet. Go find a better pair of shoes.
I’m not broken because I struggled in this job. In our life, there are shoes that fit and shoes that don’t. There are shoes we like, but they end up causing sores. There are shoes that look ugly, but actually become the most comfortable pair we’ve ever owned.
It was hard for me to quit, to work up the courage to put in my two-weeks notice. I felt like I was letting my supervisor down, my family down, my roommate down. I felt like I was letting myself down. I felt like a failure.
But I chose to love myself enough to listen to my body when it tells me no. I value my mental and physical health. I need to take care of myself, even if that means taking a risk.
So, I quit my job. I feel so much healthier and I find I’m much happier.
No, I don’t have the next opportunity lined up yet. But I feel much better than I did before, and I trust that something will arrive. I have never known need or never been able to not pay a bill. The Lord is sovereign and I have put my faith in Him. He provides.
And, if all else fails, there’s always mom’s basement.
Has there ever been a time when your body has physically rejected something, like work or a relationship?
What are some ways you can listen to the needs of your body?