Intentional Unemployment: Deciding to leave and face the unknown

It wasn't one thing.

One central cause that led to me deciding to leave my job, leave Austin, and come back to Georgia. One thing was clear: I wasn't happy. And, I hadn't been happy for quite some time.

This writing isn't where I'm going to unpack why I left but rather document when I knew it was time, what this choice looked like, and what it means now about one month out.

When I knew

Before I dive in, I'll offer this post as some explanation of the general mood I was in. When I knew came in late May. A Sunday. I hopped on Twitter shortly after waking up to catch up on what I had missed. I came across a Twitter thread from Jarrett Drake (@jmddrake). Now, Jarrett and I have never met. We only know of each other through Twitter. However, he quickly became one of the archivists I admired.

He tweeted two things that resonated with me. First:

"All this to say: sometimes what hold us back is an item (or a person, or job) that we've convinced ourselves we need."

My heart pounded in my chest. I remember sitting up. Feeling like someone had exposed the essential struggle within myself. Did I really need the things I needed?

Then he tweeted later on in the thread:

"Ditch that car. Ditch that person. Ditch that job. Get ya freedom papers. Get ya Legsus. Get ya SEPTA bus tokens. Get ya walking shoes."

Freedom, Freedom from these prevailing feelings. This ennui. This angst. I was scared.

I sent a text to my friend. My best friend. My mirror. The one person I can trust to keep it 100, 100% of the time. I told her the one thing I buried deep within myself.

I texted simply: I want to quit my job and leave Austin.

Now to text Stephanie means you might wait days for a response. She leads a busy life. I had accepted this fact. However, on this day, on this Sunday morning, she responded within five minutes.

"It makes sense to me."

What happened next was a flurry of text messages and a cold dose of reality from Stephanie. Failing and struggling is a possibility if I do this but she reminded me of something.

"What I'm saying is you'll live and you will thrive."

She pointed to all the times I've struggled. Struggle, especially financial, was not a foreign concept to me. If anything, that struggle shaped me into the strong, ambitious person she knows and loves.

After our exchange, I was feeling everything: angsty, fearful, and also relief. I had finally admitted out loud the thing I spent some time emotionally burying.

I prayed at that moment. I laid my heart completely bare. I told Him that I wanted to go.

"So go," He replied back.

What this choice looked like

Just because I was resolved to this course of action, doesn't mean it was without fear. Stephanie gave me a simple directive: don't tell others. Why you might ask? Because well-meaning people can undermine, intentionally or unintentionally, the things you resolve to do. 

For a time, I did. What happened, however, is that anxiousness walked with me. It felt as if there was a giant sign over my head that flashed:

ASHLEY HAS A SECRET. ASHLEY IS QUITTING HER JOB!

It led to a fitful night sleep. Jumpiness around the people I cared about. Being guarded. I talked myself out of it. I talked myself back into it. But then, I would remember that moment of peace when I had initially decided. I held on to that. It wasn't an aberration. It was freedom.

I broke down and told a friend. And then I told another. 

All of them. Every last one of them responded positively. Confirmation, as I saw it, from the God that this was the right decision.

But when? When would I actually do it? When would I put in my notice? The time, conveniently, presented itself. The anxiety ratcheted up. I prayed like I haven't prayed in a long time. Give me the words to say. Don't let me chicken out.

Then the day arrived.

It was the calmest I've ever been up to this point in my life. No jitters. No pounding heart. No flop sweat. No dry mouth. My boss correctly guessed before I said the words. What followed was one of the best, most honest conversations I've had with a boss. I really couldn't have asked for a better moment.

That is when it became real. I was doing this. This was a path I had chosen.

What it means now

That is still being determined. It's weird to be a lady of leisure again, which ironically is happening almost five years when I first was a lady of leisure on the job hunt

I'm back in Georgia spending time with my family, occupying my time with reading and nephew duty.

One thing I know for sure is that there is more on the horizon. New places to explore. New people to meet. Georgia may be home but its not where I'll say. 

God didn't bring me this far just to peace out on me now.

Trust and believe.