Why does it feels like taking a break from a career sounds like a taboo or like it’s a miserable thing to happen to an individual? That a major setback in a career or while studying can be perceived as a failure with multitude of negative strings attached to it. We’d like to believe that each change should always meant to do things differently for a better outcome. However, in this double standard society that we need to outlive, people’s mindset has a tendency to get derailed and be entertained over someone’s obstacle to change rather than proactively understand and give support. Just like any career change, hitting the reset button can be both challenging and exciting. In my case, a career reset at just 33 years old was one of the best life decisions I’ve made so far.
JOHARI’S WINDOW OF THE UNKNOWN
Resetting my career didn’t happen all of a sudden, the idea of it popped in my head for how many months before I finally had the courage to do it – I can tell something was not right then. I’m losing focus every day, I’m lacking motivation, I can’t remember my daily anthem, I’m doubting my capabilities I know that are my strengths – it was a dragging cycle, a weekend rest or getaway wasn’t enough to recover. This is completely not who I am when I started working ten years ago, I thought, heck even when I had struggles at work then, it wasn’t this complicated. I hoped to overcome it, however no matter how hard I focus I was struggling to concentrate, refocusing was even harder. I would close my eyes for a second and a number of voices at the back of my head would tell me to do this, to do that instead, everything seemed to be a constant conflict between what is important and what needs to be prioritized. Guess what? Decision-making was way tougher, I’ve became negligent. I kept on catching up to the things that I can do, thinking I’m supposed to be doing them for someone or answering to someone. I was not fine at all despite the smiles, the bonding with colleagues, and the time with friends. Every day I put on a mask to hide the scraps within. My self-motivation tattoo has lost its mojo.
With all that chaos inside my head, I thought I needed to do things that I love to keep myself sane, so over the next few months I pushed my creative standards and profoundly participated on a dance production (which included ramming my head on theme, choreography, audio mixing, and costume), a mentorship with a beauty pageant contestant (Q&A, branding, walk, confidence building, which are all new to me), then another dance production, and a superhero battle choreography and A/V technicality. All of them were within workplace and I had a great amount of help with the tasks, but the process and results weren’t enough, I was insatiable, the amount of fun doing it equaled the stress of making it good. I was fixated to a certain standard of how it should be done, let alone the outcome. Then it all back-fired, I became more agitated, more extreme, and neglected the responsibilities that I was supposed to be focusing on in the first place.
Looking back, the experience felt like those depressive episodes I had way back in college, though this time it wasn’t grim – I was more in control. This time it wasn’t really depression, at least not clinically, there was a key piece that was missing and somehow I’m glad I didn’t have a single moment to think about it. Then what was it? I wish I’ve understood, I wish I’ve sought more help, it was unknown to me, the struggle was unknown to anyone. Yes, the persons of interest and the ones in my inner circle have an idea about it, it is expected for me to be self-aware, share and sought out help, but no one really listened, friends don’t really get it – everyone was on the same boat, it was up to me how I deal with and overcome the stress or whatever it is. The moments weren’t dragging, but they were so heavy and such a struggle. I didn’t realize the toll that it had on me. A mental illness of some sort, must be a severe anxiety disorder but no, not depression.
THINGS FELL INTO PLACE
It wasn’t long before I finally listened to what the universe was telling me, for how many months I tried to endure the brain-freeze, and I’m glad it wasn’t too late. Recognizing the signs is a skill that does not apply to everyone of course, some even laugh at the thought of it, but growing up I’ve been keenly observant to certain events around me or things that stand for something or has deeper meaning on a given perspective, kinda like interpreting dreams, part of a grand design of some sort.
So let’s see, an all-hell-breaks-loose trouble and back-firing at work, health concerns at home, the world seems crashing down at me and I’m a ticking time bomb standing at the edge of the earth, indeed there was no better time to be one at that point. And so my time came, just like at the stroke of midnight, it is like of perfect timing as if I’ve passed a final test, it is time for me to go. I didn’t have to ask, I didn’t have to beg or pray – I’m the one who had to say to myself to let go. Did I think I can still get up, give it another day and still try? Hell no. F*ck no. I already gave it one more sanity shot months ago, so no, not this time. Not today, not tomorrow, not any day.
Would you be deciding differently? Would you still be looking for a silver lining among the madness of fate? Or would it also be easy for you to fly? Yes, it wasn’t hard for me to decide and fly, I just had to keep the draft simple and send the two weeks’ notice. What’s left of my dignity and positive energy I’ve reserved it to endorse stuff and make right what I can with the allotted time, call it guilt, I call it regret. I can’t believe I have one, I’m used to accepting how life favors me and not regretting every decision I’ve made. I guess this one is still an exception, I’m yet to learn how to move on past this, else I wouldn’t have written this in the first place. Some were surprised that I’m leaving, some doesn’t need to know, a handful understood why I need to, and an associate of mine did a better job of thoughtfully asking questions and understanding why I had to leave – though I’ve already made the decision, I still appreciate the gesture. Notice the word better, as opposed to the people I thought I knew better how to package me in the first place. Still, it made the decision-making easier.
I need to heal. I need rest. I need a f*cking good sleep. And there was no better time to snap out of the hellish situation I was in. There was no better time to think about myself and my well-being. There’s no other person in the world who would look after me, not my friends, and not my colleagues. It was a short goodbye, I didn’t get to endorse what I intend to as I was asked to leave earlier than expected. The sooner the better I guess, there were no parting words from my superiors and you’d be left wondering how someone is valued and what is a leader’s worth. So much for the pride and engagement I’ve driven all those time, huh?
So did I get to realize my shortcomings and reflect on the mistakes I’ve made and at the same time get to appreciate and focus on all the good stuff I’ve championed? Yup, I did and I’m thankful I had time to rest and think about a lot of things. The road to recovery is also an ongoing thing, and I’ll be sharing them on the Part Two of this Career Reset at 33.
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