I previously wrote about why I chose to leave my corporate job two years ago to travel. Now, I want to talk about exactly how it went down. Choosing such a drastic lifestyle change did not happen overnight, and in conversations I am quick to make it look easy, even if It wasn’t.
At first, it was daunting to walk away from everything I worked so hard for so long to achieve. I want to break down the process of how I quit my job to show you that it was a much longer and rigorous process than you might think. I was walking away from something hugely sought after, I was going to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons.
After a backpacking trip through Thailand in February 2014, it dawned on me through conversations with my travel partner that I was, sort of to my surprise, unhappy in my current life and in my job. I didn’t feel like I had really chosen the life I was living, I was just following the pack and trying to get ahead for the validation. I accepted the first job offer that came along. It was like winning the lottery after buying only one ticket. You’d be crazy not to cash it in, right? That’s what I thought too.
So I knew that something had to change. I didn’t know what I would do, only that I had to do something. It was exhilarating, to know that I had been thrust a great dilemma, to stay in something I knew wasn’t quite right, or to seek out an alternate path. This could be a defining moment in my life. The chapter where everything could change for me. This would only happen if I made it so.
After Thailand, there was a blizzard of ideas and suggestions: “buy a fast car”, “go tree planting”, “go traveling”, “volunteer!”, “start your own business!”,”buy a condo”.
I was weary of the advice from people who had always worked one kind of job and had one kind of lifestyle. I knew they would never recommend to me to go travelling because they themselves had never done this. I learned all advice given is limited by the range of experiences of the advice giver.
During a lunch break in April, a co-worker mentioned that a friend of hers had recently gone to Australia on a working holiday visa. I asked more about the process. Apparently, it’s super easy.
At 11:38pm a few days later, I impulsively applied for a working holiday visa to Australia. I figured it was at least worth a try. If I get rejected for the visa, no big deal, I would keep looking.If I’m accepted then I can decide if I really want to go.
I woke up the next day with an email informing me that I had been granted a 1-year working holiday visa to Australia! I had one year to enter Australia from the visa grant date, and I could stay for a maximum of one year after. Australia was appealing to me in that it was just far away from where I was. That was all I was really looking for. Distance.
This is when things really started to change for me. Instead of drowning in an infinite ocean of options forward, there was one clear alternate path available to me. I could just run off to Australia. I could travel alone. See another part of the world. Be challenged. Grow.
In May, I moved out of my parent’s house and picked up a 4-month sublet just a few blocks away from work. I was living at home to save up to make a down payment on a condo, but amidst the Quarter-Life Crisis, this massive financial commitment became less and less appealing. I did this so that I could definitely eliminate that this Quarter-Life Crisis wasn’t just about the commute and the smothering of my parents that were the root of the unhappiness. So that I could be certain that my belief for more still stood. Some things changed, but it was all mostly the same.
That what I was still really looking for was outside of a life in my hometown, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The thought that I could be in Australia instead of Calgary, gave me some peace. That I could just go there. And I could find work. And figure my sh*t out, over there. I could stay in Australia as long as I needed to. I could breathe. I could take a break from my intense, type-A persona. I could just be a human being on this planet for a little while.
The project that I was working on ended in June. My boss encouraged me to take a new role in Campus Recruitment. I would be able to travel throughout Canada engaging with all sorts of students and building up a talent pipeline for my organisation.
Out of instinct (a yearning for connection and understanding, I explained to her my hesitation.
“I’m just not so sure this is what I want anymore. And to do this job well, I’ve got to really know that this is what I want. Otherwise, I’ll just be half-assing it. And neither of us wants that.”
Her response: “The Universe is really testing you”.
I couldn’t believe her response. Did my boss just bring out the Big Universe into this?
I had kept this from her for so long, and it weighed heavier on me than I thought. She was someone who believed in my potential, and the thought of letting her down by walking away was just as hard as walking away. She said she saw me change, that I wasn’t the same person I was when I first started.
I explained that I would think about it and let her know. We discussed a departure date that would work for the both of us if I did choose to leave. Where I would have the time to complete any other projects going on and tie up loose ends.
The universe is testing me, and I knew what my answer is. The answer, wasn’t where I found most of my answers. Up in my head. Where I see myself getting praised, and promoted. The answer came from somewhere deeper yet unfamiliar to me. I knew little about this place. I didn’t know its reasons, but I knew that if I trusted that voice. It would never fail me. Trusting the tug toward something else was my only way out.
I left the corporate world on July 31, 2014.
I sent orchids to my mentors with handwritten notes about how much I appreciated their guidance, and what I had learned from them. No matter how strongly I felt about this choice in my life. I could never fault their decisions, or their willingness to teach me. They still deserved my gratitude.
I stocked up on all the dental work, massages, and contraceptives before leaving my amazing benefit plan. I sold all the company stock I owned in the company for cash. If I was leaving, I was really leaving.
I got rid of almost all my belongings. I purchased a backpack; I packed it up three times to get the most things in it. I booked a 10-day group tour of Australia’s east coast (something I will probably never do again). I had three weeks planned out of a total of 2 years of travel.
My departure from the corporate world was exciting. I had always made my decisions based on how would benefit my career. If it didn’t benefit my career, small chance I would do it. So making a decision out of simple selfishness was refreshing.
I had one month to spend time with my family and to prepare for the trip. I spent 2 weeks at our family’s cottage by the sea. I saw up with as many friends as I could.
And I left.
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