Why I fell off the workforce treadmill

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In a 2014 Gallup poll, more than 2/3rds of adults said they were not engaged at work, or were actively disengaged. Worldwide only 13% of adults call themselves engaged at work.

One evening this January, while pondering my decision to quit the workforce, I had written to my boss,
“Good evening,
Your morning looks busy, but I would like to discuss something with you.
This is something personal and at the same time related to my future with [REDACTED].
Thanks,
Rachana.”

After that note and a few discussions one-on-one convincing him that I was going to be happier staying at home, I included only half of the reason for my departure via a final email:
“Hello everyone!
I am leaving [REDACTED] to pursue another much more challenging role, full time – being a stay at home mom to both my boys.
Although this new turf is a little unknown to me, my kids seem to have a pretty good idea of how they would like to spend my time. Yes, I need all your prayers.
As I clear my desk space, I am burdened with thoughts of laughter, fun and learning moments and I will miss everything that’s uniquely [REDACTED] as I go.
That being said, some overjoyed folks that I have trusted over the years to be mentors and good friends have decided to celebrate this news over cake and ice-cream.
So if you are in the Alpharetta office today please come by to Conference rooms E & F between 2 to 3:30pm.
Thank you.
Rachana”

Folks replied with enthusiasm and encouragement for my future.
Terrance wrote: “WTH!!! You can’t do that!”
Robin wrote: “I am “atleast” happy to have had the pleasure to have met and work with you! I wish you luck, sanity and happiness :) :) :) Your babies will enjoy you being home with them!”
Shannon wrote: “Best of luck to you!!!! What a great job that will be!!!! :)
Elizabeth wrote: “Continue to be a light wherever you are!”
Helaine wrote: “This is such an awesome new chapter for you. I’m thrilled for you and your boys!”
Denise wrote: “You will never regret your decision. Your children will be the biggest benefactors!”

Truth be told, I was simply at a position in my life where monies in the bank was not giving me the time and energy to focus on the few moments that my children really needed me in the day. I was frustrated and heartbroken almost daily because I could not get a decent half an hour to spend time doing what I loved the most, read and write a lot. I would go to bed anxious about the value I was providing my family as a hapless, half sane, unhappy mom. 

Since that final day in February, I’ve wondered sometimes if my decision was a direct result of too much of Tony Robbins in my ears. Or was it all these millennials – Adam Grant, Tim Ferris, Simon Sinek, Srini Rao and Cal Newport encouraging me to “follow my passion”? In the words of these self made men, I had felt like I had found my tribe. I too could be part of this new Gig economy, living my life through my passion for words, and monies might come. The idea of being different than my parents in their generation where they were corporate career people, rather than people who showcased their individuality filled me with pride.

From the book, Grit by Angela Duckworth:
Figure out what you enjoy doing most in life, and then try to do it full time. Life is short. Follow your passion. – Will Shortz.

It’s been 8 weeks since I quit my day job as a big data analyst. Along with it, I quit the workforce and the only main street job skill I had. I quit a workplace where I was a something and where people loved me. I quit a job where I knew my way around and which provided some structure around my day. It was a source of income and it was a source of much stability in our lives.

Some days while frustrated with myself, I wonder why I did what I did. Why publicly struggle and become so vulnerable with the unknown and the foolishness of a goal (Nobel Prize in Literature) that’s not perceivable? Why intentionally endure these moments of uncertainty? Did I fall for the great marketing of the artsiness and Bohemia of a writer’s life? 

Life now as a full time blogger and a wannabe writer is filled with an exaggerated sense of burden. The future seems bleak and terrifying even for an eternal optimist like me. When you are “living your dream”, you can seem reckless, self centered and selfish; when the fact is you can’t have that banana bread you are craving as you sit and write in Starbucks, because more than anything else you don’t want your dream to be a burden to anyone else who has to pay for it.

While life seems directionless, some days are filled with anxious waking hours, and some with purpose, goals and enthusiasm. I have come to terms that I’ve made a pivot, where I purposefully took a different route towards destiny. If I think about it, my life is literally a product of my own conscious choices. I have plenty of daytime waking hours that I can use to recharge, revamp and resubmit my skills as a writer. I AM a writer and I love what I do. Love is free flowing and stress free. Love is self rewarding and I can’t strangle my love for words by putting deadlines and asking it to reward me with monies. 

Will these long hours of journaling mean anything, will all these books that I read amount to anything, will all these quotes I have saved mean something two decades from now, I can’t say just yet. For now, these actions complete me. Writing is a challenging job for me, but the challenges it poses are enjoyable to me. And I ordered 500 business cards today on the internet using a 30$ coupon. I’ve made it! 

I Quit_LI

With actions like these, I want to tell my children that it is OK to follow your dreams to see where they take you. And encourage them to do what makes them feel worthy of everything they have. They just can’t be passive about their decisions leading to the dream goal, I must warn. Life is hard work. Whether they choose to be a detective, a janitor, a nurse, a doctor, a truck driver, a computer specialist, a CEO, a window washer – they should do it with dignity.

A few years ago, one day as I got off the subway station along with a well dressed (make up, bright lipstick and all) lady, I was pleasantly shocked to see her retrieving a janitor’s cart and walk along the car park area where I was walking towards my car. That is what America has taught me, whatever you do, do it with dignity and like you have a choice.

That final day as I walked out of my office building, I felt strangely ecstatic. I couldn’t believe what I was doing to myself, but that pain felt like relief. At least this one time in my life, I was, as Cheryl Strayed says, brave enough to break my own heart. 

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If one has fear, there can be no initiative in the creative sense of the word. To have initiative in this sense is to do something original – to do it spontaneously, naturally, without being guided, forced, controlled. It is to do something which you love to do. ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

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2 Comments

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  1. Life itself is uncertain and 8 weeks time is too short to come to conclusion. So dear writer remember uncertainty never lasts long.Cheer up.

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