Quitting my job might have seemed abrupt, but really I think my whole life was leading up to this point.
The past 5 years have been particularly difficult for me. My life was a consulting gig at Accenture. Business work may fit some people, but not me. For 3.5 years I moved around to different roles, different industries and different cities each time trying to find satisfaction, but it never came. My life was – wake up, fly, work, eat, sleep, fly home, bike, repeat.
Then I thought, going back to school was surely the answer. I quit Accenture to stop traveling and moved to LA for a job. After work I would study all night for the MCAT. My first test did not go well and I knew if I was serious about medical school, then the best way was work full time on my scores. So that’s what I did. I quit my second job and bought a MCAT course with Princeton Review. Then for 4 months, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, my life was studying. After taking the test, I spent countless hours writing, preparing and reviewing my essay and applications. Special thanks goes out to Rose, Albert, Cecilia and anyone who helped me with that essay. It meant so much to me. I applied to 10 MD schools and 10 DO schools. And waited.
For the rest of the year and after, there was a lot of silence. Then came rejection letter after rejection letter. No one wanted me. Rejection is a horrible feeling. What’s worse, I didn’t want to face my failure and spent the next two years distracting myself.
I got a new job at UCLA. I met Brandon and we went on some amazing outdoor adventures. He brought me into rock climbing and took me backpacking all over California. We laughed, we cried and I learned a lot from that relationship. I remember when he asked me about my medical school applications – if he was just distracting me from my goals. And I said no, but really the answer was yes. I wanted the distraction though. I didn’t want to face myself. I didn’t want to face what failure meant for my life or what it meant about who I was.
Ultimately I lost all motivation to re-apply and fell into the daily grind again. Wake up, work, go home, eat, sleep. I did get to explore my interests – biking, yoga, camping, backpacking, music festivals, cooking and hanging out with friends. My life was not all a shamble but I tabled my career for the indefinite.
Eventually Brandon and I part ways and I’m left with just myself. I still haven’t faced my failure but I’ve decided to move on from it. (Naive of me, I know.) Instead I try to find my fulfillment in the best ways I know how, through relationships and experiences. I volunteer at Bikerowave and I teach yoga for free.
I meet Richard at the beginning of 2015. I sign up for a week long excursion in Black Rock City. And I work hard at both my relationship and my search for fulfillment. But at the end of the year I’m left emptier, dejected, depressed. All the things I had worked hard for didn’t give me love or fulfillment. When you put all your efforts into something, shouldn’t the fruits of your labor be evident? Shouldn’t you get back the love and effort you put in? Why can’t I even earn love? Is my way of showing that I care not good enough? Why can’t I find fulfillment in charity? What’s so wrong with me that charity isn’t enough?
After Richard and I broke up, I settled into my independence again and I was happier. It dawned on me that I am the best person to make myself happy, so why should I depend on someone else to do so? Why should I depend on they next festival or trip to bring me joy? Why can’t I be happy every day?
And then I realized that I had spent my whole life searching for happiness in my career, in my relationships, and in experiences. That my need for validation from others is strong and drives a lot of my visions of self-worth. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The beginning of 2016 sparked a journey of self-love, mindfulness, and seeking happiness in myself, with what I have right now. I began by reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and started working on my ego. In congruence I have been working on letting go of possessions, fear, and control. Until recently I let go of my job.
So leaving my career is just one event on my journey to change the way I perceive the world and myself.
The next step, the reason I am walking through the wilderness, is to face my emotions.