I quit my job yesterday: it took me some time to come clear with myself, but I have finally sent in a resignation letter without causing any fuss, and have received a kind reply.
I’ve learned some important lessons from quitting my job, which I think can also be extrapolated to other areas of life, such as breaking up:
1. It’s OK to quit if it really feels wrong for you to continue. You can have the perfect job on paper, you can like your colleagues and your boss for being generally kind in interactions with you, but you can still feel very strongly it is not the right place for you. If you feel that way when at your job, going to your job will just drain you of your energy and motivation, and if you continue, you will just spend a part of your life in a trance where you are neither living nor dead. The same holds true for relationships.
2. Trust your feelings. While inside of you the decision to quit may have already been made early on, it might take some time to come to terms with your own decision and go through with it. But better late than never.
For example, me personally, I had ambiguous feelings from the start, but only officially quit after five months of working there. (The last two were from home, with zero work done, so that’s why I say ‘officially’). Same with relationships.
WARNING! The part in italics below is intended as an example of what bothered me in my job, but because it is so extensive it can be perceived as a very long rant. If you really want to not find out whether others have similar reasons to you for disliking their job, skip to point three immediately, .
I was very happy to know that my reputation in the field had preceded me to the point that I was contacted, instead of having to search for a job.
However, there were:
a. the lack of commonalities with my colleagues (a serious age gap and a bit of a language gap)
During my first meeting with the group I noticed every other colleague was at least 20 years older than me, and most of them hardly knew any English. (Quite unusual in an academic environment: how do they read scientific peer reviewed articles?) The age gap gave me an uncomfortable feeling, but I ignored it, simply because everyone was really kind to me. That was stupid of me.
The age gap came back throughout my entire time there: during lunch breaks, I just could not find the power to engage in talks about nothing as if it were really exciting. (And then to take the effort to do that in another language was even more draining.) Old people generally have less social contacts, less ambitions, and less going on in their lives, and I just cannot relate very well to that. Generally, I do sometimes voluntarily engage in conversations with people I cannot relate to as an exercise of my social skills, because keeping up a conversation about something utterly boring and finding common grounds despite tons of differences is a real good practice for social skills. But the idea that I would have to do this every day for two years with the same people over and over again, and that I would be wasting two years of my life, just made me strongly deterred to engage most of the time. Because hell forbid: what if I became like them, without personal ambitions? I wanted to avoid that at all costs. (I did chat frequently with younger people working in the cafeteria during their lunch breaks; people who are still figuring their life out, and have something going on I can relate to.) Another thing about the age gap: as my colleagues had the impression my understanding of their language was not too good, they took the liberty in talking in third person about me in their presence and regularly referred to me as young man, and sometimes even as a boy, which just enlarged the already clear age gap and which further emphasized we had very little in common.
b. Red flags. I found out there apparently had been quite a number of predecessors, all early in their careers, and all had left: instinctively this felt like a red flag (because why had they all left?), but again, I ignored my feeling. When I started working on the computer left behind by the latest precedor, I found a work related file on the desktop named “shit”, quite a few movies, and almost no scientific articles. (In the academic world, if you are motivated, you read more on the topic you are working on. If not, you hardly read anything). Clearly a sign of someone who didn’t like her job.
c. Getting the basic necessities for being able to do my job was a constant struggle. Ok, the job is in France, and France has a bit of a reputation of being inefficient. But in a job were you need to go online continuously, I found it hard to believe that it took over a week to get a proper internet connection. I was living abroad without internet for over a week: I had no local mobile phone number or 3G or 4G, and could only access internet sporadically in consultation rooms that were occupied most of the day. Rooms where I could be asked to leave any minute in the middle of doing something. There was no WiFi whatsoever. Despite coaxing the ICT team, they were too busy playing games on their computers for more than a week. So, for more than a week I had not much chance to get started with work or even figure out anything necessary for getting around in the new place, and paying bills online. From my experience, depriving someone from the capacity to do his work is the best way to get a new employee’s momentum and willingness to work slow down tremendously. Once the computer in my office was finally connected to the internet, things were still crappy. The computer was like my colleagues: hugely outdated, with versions of Microsoft office I hadn’t seen for over a decade (NOT exaggerating). A huge downgrade to my ability to write effectively and compose documents. So I was forced to bring my personal laptop from and to my work every day in order to have access to a decent version of Microsoft Office and to open normal documents. Then, just for me to be able to get internet on my laptop, the ICT finally came by against all expectations (they were notoriously lazy) attempting to connect the internet, but instead they managed to digitally lock access to my laptop, so I didn’t have access to my laptop, until they finally fixed it a month later. Fixed, but still without internet access on my laptop… Basically back to zero after being in subzero for a month. Two months after starting, finally an all new computer arrived. (They refused to order a laptop, because they feared it might be taken away if I would leave my job. They literally said that, except they did not refer to me only, but to anyone who might have to work on it. Not only the lack of trust, but also that this idea even came to their mind that I would leave and take it, and that they were already thinking there will be others, were additional red flags that I also tried to rationally ignore. Dumb, dumb, dumb…) As for the the new computer: it took two weeks before they connected it to the internet, and supposedly to the printer, but they failed at connecting it to the printer. Moreover, it came without Microsoft Office on it, and coaxing the ICT again didn’t get their asses moving, so I have never had any Microsoft Office on it the remainder of my time being there.
d. Unfair salary.
Right before starting out the job, two of my new colleagues were very kind in helping me out with finding a tiny studio to live for me that fit my criteria, as I came from abroad and had no chance to go and take a look. Now, we all know that when looking for a studio, you have to set yourself a limit to what you are willing to pay, taking into account your income. So, that’s why my salary came up, and the response of those two colleagues made clear I got much less than them for essentially doing the same job. Now, I am not really focused on money all too much: I don’t care if my next job pays me more or less, but I still like money. But most of all, anyone who has read my posts (or been in a relationship with me*) knows that I am very, VERY likely to experience unfairness (in my disadvantage, but not in my advantage) as a VERY serious deal breaker. Maybe not immediately, but as a seed that grows from the inside and is very hard to remove. A seed that once planted, can only really be removed if the one who planted it starts treating way better than anyone else on that area.
(*When I told exes that I work like that before getting in a relationship with them, their tense little minds thought I was trying to pressure them, instead of seeing it for what it was: actually I liked them so much that I wanted to give them all the knowledge to make a relationship with me work for as long as they wanted, without them having to do more for me than they had ever done for an ex. I.e., by just giving me the same advantages, or maybe being only a teensy bit nicer to me from the start on the things that matter to me I would have been very satisfied. Instead they chose not to be fair, make me work harder for the same, and relationships crashed because when I am being treated unfair in a disadvantageous way I become dissatisfied, and have a huge desire to reverse this, and I start to desire getting more than anyone else and want to do increasingly less to get it. The only reason I continue such relationships for a longer period of time is because of the hope it might be reversed, and the relationship can one day flourish like it was supposed to. But desiring more in relationships is undoable because girls generally already gave everything to someone else, some dicks gave them bad experiences, so they often they do not even want to give as much, let alone more. In jobs desiring more salary to compensate for an unfairly low salary is also undoable, because once a salary is set, a superior cannot just increase your salary with a serious leap, even if he wants to. Because he might fear that if word comes out, all other employees will become equally demanding. So, this unfair salary kicked me further down into a desire to be as unproductive as possible, just so my effort would not be underpaid, and I would not feel so unfair. Sometimes, I would get surges of the genuine me coming out who is highly motivated and wants to be cooperative, productive and such, but after doing it then I would be reminded of the unfairness to me, and it made me feel stupid for having those surges and for wanting to do good. Exes who were unfair to me also experienced this and know I am like this. What can I say? I didn’t ask more of them than they gave others. All I asked was the same. They chose to give less, so they didn’t get out of me what they easily could have, they didn’t get to see my full relationship potential, but only got some tastes of it. And they all know it was their choice that made me feel that way, and they hate me for feeling that way, because they cannot bear the self-hate for losing a guy who’s potential they saw but, they totally managed to divert to another girl. Too bad for them.)
3. Save your rants for others – preferably for people who are totally unrelated to what you are ranting about. This clearly refers to myself ranting in the previous point. Whether in quitting a job, or in breaking up, sometimes we have the urge to take a victim perspective, just so we can throw back all the shit that we experienced that was poured over us, and we hope that by throwing it back we will get the satisfaction of feeling in control again. Or perhaps we have this urge because deep down we believe that then the person will take us serious, and everything will turn out for the better. Or maybe, we have this urge just because we want to make ourselves believe we are really good at heart for giving honest feedback about what pushed us away. Unfortunately, this urge often backfires, and makes us feel more like a victim instead of feeling in control, and by ranting to the one who contributed to that feeling of victimhood, that person will NOT be urged to do what you would like better, but instead will justify their shitty treatment of you. So resist that urge to express your perpetual and repeated dissatisfaction to the people that continue to dissatisfy you, despite open communication.
For example: I didn’t make the mistake of expressing my dissatisfaction about certain things in quitting my job, but I did make it in relationships that crashed. When I told exes, “I don’t like what you did”, they would take it personally as if I had just said “I don’t like you, and I never will”. They would get all defensive, justify their actions, become unapologetic. Their response in turn made me feel I should not just dislike what they did, but I should actually dislike them, because I had just given them the medicine and they had thrown it out. In other words, the more I tried to explain I didn’t like certain THINGS they did, and what I would like instead, the more they feared that I was personally disliking them, which in turn made them act in a way that made their fear a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I did dislike them in the end, and didn’t care as much anymore about what they wanted.
So instead of ranting to the people that do you injustice, feel free to get that load of your chest by sharing it with your friends, loved ones, acquaintances, or anyone that doesn’t bear any relation to your job/relationship you are ranting about. Heck, even blog about it to strangers if you want. (Just make sure your blog is anonymous…)
4. Giving them your feedback is useless. Even if you believe the feedback you are giving is crucial for them not to make the same mistake again with someone else and for them to get what they want, their mind will reject the feedback, because they didn’t come up with it themselves. Another reason your feedback will not get through is because that you are quitting is so stressful for them, that their minds are just to overwhelmed by negative emotion, and it will make them defensive to the point that any feedback they hear is automatically going to be taken as wrong and untrue, simply because it occurred in a period of severe stressful interaction.
You are patronizing in thinking they cannot figure it out themselves: often people know exactly in which ways they might have crossed a line. If you have read my rant above, it doesn’t take a genius that all of those things are very much not the way to treat an employee if you want to keep him motivated. (Same with girlfriends: it doesn’t take a genius girl to know that sexual dissatisfaction, and always prioritizing her own needs above mine, would drive any man away.) All that the people who cross many lines usually care for, is to know which lines they can cross without negative consequences to themselves. The only thing they might have trouble figuring out is which of the many things they did, was the final drop that made you pack your bags. (Same with girls that complain they can’t keep a guy: they just want to know how much of a self-centered bitch they can still be to a guy yet get to keep him. If you are that reluctant to make someone happy, and always make it feel very conditional, then you plainly will not be able to keep him.)
Another reason not to give feedback, is because it is patronizing of you for thinking it is your responsibility to help them figure it out. It is their own responsibility, and if they have a bit of brains and a real drive to get what they want, through trial and error they will figure out what they did wrong and they will not do it anymore. If they keep repeating the same mistake (bosses or girlfriends), it means they don’t really care about others, so why should you care about them?
4. When sharing a decision that implies a change not just for yourself, justify it by reference to an outside factor. Instead of giving the whole ranting lecture I gave under point two, you can still express your feelings truthfully as long as you give a vague, but true and believable reference to other things going on in your life. If your reference to the causal factor for quitting is to something else going on in your life, but clearly NOT directed at the job (or the relationship) that you are quitting, it becomes easier for the other party to agree with your decision and for the two of you to part on neutral terms.
For example, I had a lot of private shit going on in the past year, other than the things in my job on which I ranted point two, have been very deep last year, and recently I truthfully didn’t feel capable of doing my job properly, as I lacked the motivation to continue, and I also truthfully feared I would go very deep again if I continued. This is what I told my ex-boss. I got a very understanding reaction.
5. Apologize for your decision, even if you are just sorry for yourself.
This sounds worse than it is. For me feeling sorry for myself means I am disappointed in my choice, which means I am being hard on myself and telling myself I am the one who needs to learn, and that I am the one who let others down. If you feel sorry for yourself the way I do, then you don’t feel the others have to do better. Of course you would have liked it if they would have treated you better, and you think they definitely could have done better, but that they didn’t is not something you have to feel sorry for. They will also face consequences for their decisions.
I felt temporarily disappointed in myself that I took the job despite the red flags, for as long as I had the job. This way, I started out with something I could never finish and had to quit, which not only made me feel drained, but also feel stupid. I mean, if an employer (or girlfriend) cannot treat me fairly, I don’t really pity that they didn’t get what they want: they don’t deserve it, even if they treat me kind on other areas that matter way less. They got a well intending person, failed to treat him equal or better to some lazy bones that they are giving or gave more to, so they have no right to complain when I do my best to not exceed the crappy efforts of others and do not live up to my potential. I only care that I got involved with them in the first place, because it means I did something stupid. Namely, I accepted their bullshit when I shouldn’t have. Then again, I got something out of it, like we do from every experience in life, so it’s not a total waste of time, and so it’s not something I feel truly sorry of for myself even. Also, it wasn’t really unfair, because instinctively, I always adjust my output to be way less than what it can be under these sort of circumstances, so they also didn’t get out of me what they wanted. If people are unfair, I am pretty successful at making it fair: I will always try to coax them into making it fair in a cooperative way, but if they don’t want to, I become cooperatively uncooperative, just like them, so in the end the balance tips in my favor.
If you quit a job you don’t like, it’s not a waste of time, because you learned your lessons, and got a salary for learning them, even if the salary was not totally satisfactory or less than what others got. Likewise, if you end a relationship, the relationship was not a waste of time, because you learned your lessons, and you got some out of it what you wanted (sex, being touched, attention, romantic memories) even though you may not have gotten as much out of it as you liked or as others got. The disappointment (in yourself) is temporary, the lessons are for life.
6. GRADUALLY escalate the build up to your decision that involves others. This way, once you reach the final point of no return, they also know it is too late to do efforts to win you back, and they know they have had their chances. Girlfriend or boss. Also, they will feel less bad, because they are left with the impression you were no good for them either in the long run, so they are glad to get rid of you.
For example, in the job I quit, at first, when I didn’t have internet, I went somewhere else to do my job efficiently and informed my boss. Then when I got an angry reaction from my boss despite my good intentions and explaining him I just want to work efficiently, I returned the next day to my office, only to do very little and very inefficiently, because with the means given to me, I couldn’t do any better. Then, as others could work from home, I would also gradually work more and more from home given the computer problems in my office. And then I just stopped going altogether. It may not seem like the best way to do things, if you have no idea of what the other party did, but I just responded to how I was treated. As I gradually got more and more the impression I was of little value, the less value I gave them. As you know my subconscious decision already fell way earlier, and I did openly express my dissatisfaction with the situations initially: it just took me some time to accept my own decision to quit. I had just f*ing relocated to another country: I am not going to step out in the first month.