When “Action” = Quit

IMG_20141229_230228Happy Holidays!  It’s been a while since my last post, and I wanted to write one more before the end of 2014.

This year was definitely one of the turning points for me.  In May, I left my previous job, after working there for five years.  I grew so much through the work experience, learned ins and outs of nonprofit programming and management, and met many wonderful people, some of whom I still keep in touch.  But the last few years I had found myself in a highly-contentious, stressful environment, while also procrastinating on my dream of (again) going back to school and pursuing something I love.

After a series of some events, I finally had to make a decision: to stay or to quit.  To be honest, I think I was toying with the idea of leaving the job for over a year at that point, but I never acted on it.  For one part, I had unconsciously thought that quitting would mean running away.  As a Buddhist, I’m always encouraged to face every situation head on, because it is a reflection of my life, indicating that I can polish something within me.  The moment I change, the others change, too.  I thought that it meant I had to stick around to create a change within me, which would result in a visible transformation of my work environment.  I did not want to run away.

Then, after talking to many friends and giving it enough thought, it just occurred to me: I was actually running away by staying in the situation. Well, it does sound like an oxymoron.  But I realized that, and I knew this deep inside my heart, I was staying at the job because I was fearful of change – of not having money, or professional title.

I put a quote by Yehudi Menuhin, “Do not calculate your actions out of the darkness of fear,” as my email signature.  But in fact I was living in fear, and letting it control my actions.  So, knowing that, I quit.  To face myself.

It took so much courage to do so, but it was a liberating process.  At the job, I gave enough time (i.e. two-month warning) so that I could train other staff and prepare for a rather peaceful transition.  I was also able to use my leaving as a catalyst for bringing my (and everyone else’s) concerns to the organization’s leadership.  It really turned out to be the best decision – not because I was able to remove myself from the environment where I was unhappy, but because I faced my fear. (It also helped that I had a partner in crime, who left around the same time as I did.)

And the rest is history… I started school in September, and although it is VERY HARD, I cannot be happier.  I was also offered a job opportunity around the same time, and now work part-time at my Buddhist organization’s UN Liaison Office, where I work on issues such as nuclear weapons disarmament and culture of peace, based on the humanistic philosophy of Buddhism.  In a sense, I am where I’ve always wanted to be.  And I know I could not have done all these without the support of my family and friends, especially my husband.

Clearly, not everyone is able to walk away from a job when he or she wants to, nor is it the message.  But I’ve learned this year that I must always live fearless.  And when I do, the results will follow.

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