Why I’m Setting Myself Back In My Career In Favor Of A Happier Life
A few weeks ago, you probably saw the Cosmopolitan post, “Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream.”
When I read that article, I was just finishing up a full-time internship at one of Florida’s largest, most successful media groups.
It’s an internship that landed me in the emergency room twice with severe chest pain. Both times, doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, and they told me I was probably just too stressed at work. I was.
Don’t get me wrong; this internship was amazing. I’ve never seen so many incredibly smart, hard-working people in the same room together. It was inspiring, and I learned so much. I even landed a Newsweek article for one of our clients.
It was, in retrospect, probably asinine to think someone who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail would ever be comfortable sitting at a desk all day.
I constantly felt trapped and longed to just be outside. I frequently wondered how people do this for the better part of their adult lives. I couldn’t get over how this, to me, was not living. In fact, it was the opposite of living. I felt like I was dying.
So, when I came across the Cosmo article, I was reminded I am not the only one. In fact, there are numerous resources that say our generation is tired of the whole “sitting at a desk all day” thing.
This internship was supposed to be my door, one that would lead to a long and prosperous career in the media and communications field, one that had me sitting at a desk the rest of my life. My gut, however, was telling me this wasn’t right.
So, I’m going back to the bottom of the food chain.
That’s right. I used to work two part-time jobs just to make ends meet. I’ve lifeguarded, been a front desk receptionist, bartended and washed dishes. And, those jobs, as low paying and “menial” as they are, also don’t have me sweating at my desk because I wrote “pm” instead of “am” on a press release.
And, now that I have to pick, I’m choosing the path that doesn’t give me emergency room visits every few months.
I recently accepted a job as a wilderness therapy guide. I will be taking troubled youths on eight-day backpacking trips in the woods. As therapeutic as it will be for them, I will likely also benefit from the experience.
Here’s why I’m leaving the office and am perfectly happy making less money doing it:
The stress isn’t worth it.
My coworkers’ plates were always, always full. There is some sort of sadistic bragging right that comes with working late and on weekends and having an inbox you can never fully attend to. Our society’s obsession with workaholism sucks, and I’m over it.
The 40-hour work week is antiquated.
That’s right; that terrible, soul-sucking, tired feeling you get when you leave the office each day is because working as much as you sleep not only leaves you exhausted and depleted, but it was also invented in the 1800s.
And, according to CNN, it’s on its way out. Companies like BambooHR have an “anti-workaholic” policy. Millennials are saying, “F*ck this.” We’re working from home when we want. We’re more concerned with being happy than telling our parents we worked 59 hours this week.
According to the Atlantic, a study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers — a company that conducted an investigation in response to a mass exodus of Millennial employees — found that “Millennials do not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office, but by the output of the work performed.
They view work as a 'thing' and not a 'place.' The long hours at the office and status quo work-life tradeoff weren't working for the company's young workers; they wanted more flexibility, so they went looking for it.”
There has to be a better way.
Call me a dreamer, but the way we change things is by fighting them, by thinking out of the cubicle and by saying, “Nope, sorry. Our parents were always exhausted and angry. We’re not going to repeat the cycle.”
I’ve already lined up several freelancing jobs on the side I can do from anywhere.
Imagine a world of people sitting outside in the sunshine, enjoying some coffee, while answering their morning e-mails. They would be measuring work by the deadlines they need to be met, not by the sheer number of hours put in.
It all seems so fake.
Why do we have to put on nice shirts, tuck them in and wear ties? What’s with all the makeup? Why are we smiling through our teeth at these assh*le clients? Everything about office life just screams uptight fakery.
And, I don’t know about you, but I prefer honesty. I prefer t-shirts, board shorts and being able to tell someone when I’m pissed off.
If you’re stuck at a desk or cubicle, if you’re constantly staying an extra 15 minutes at work “because it looks good” and if you hate your life, then make a change. Quit. Work from home.
Sh*t, scoop ice cream for a living, because there’s no shame in finding an occupation that allows you to live your life.
And to all you workaholics out there, we are not impressed. We are laughing at your extremely skewed and flawed views on living. We are standing up and shouting, “We’re done!”
Our generation has already made amazing societal advances (some people believe we’re going to save the world), so why not add this to the list? Let’s create a world where our children laugh at the term “office” and have trouble fathoming how people ever sat at computers eight hours a day.
Let’s live our lives.