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  • Writer's pictureM.A. Hayes

To stay or not to stay?

It's okay to want better for yourself job-wise. It's okay to pivot.

Can someone tell me why do I feel guilty every time I leave a job? Each time I have left or been laid off, a sense of guilt has always overcome me. But why? I was a good worker, I've been able to adapt to less than favorable conditions, and I was constantly picking up new skills to better myself. So what was the problem?

It wasn't until my recent leave of a job that I realized why I felt guilt. Because I was constantly picking up new skills, being a good worker, and being able to adapt quickly and easily, I was advancing too quick for my job.

First let me start by saying, the job I worked at was in the print production industry. My skill set and heart belongs to marketing and digital design. My job wasn't aligning to my skill set, and I wasn't given the chance to pivot within the job itself, so I felt stuck. Because I felt stuck, and I thought that this would be the have-all end-all job for me, I decided to learn everything I could about print production. However, I did not dull my passion for the digital aspect, I carried on with my education via online courses and books for that. I also expanded into the business and communcation sector to sharpen myself overall. By continuing to expand my education in other areas, I was no longer satisfied with just print production. I needed to use what I had learned.

There was such a yearning to use what I had gathered over the last 2 years that I had slipped into a depression. I didn't even notices that others could tell until my family, my boyfirend, and even my former boss pointed it out to me. I began to lose my drive in all aspects of work, commissions, and even passion projects. I had to get out of this frame of mind, but I couldn't break out of it.

I spent weeks planning things I would like to do. And then one day it hit me, why couldn't I do the things I wanted to do? Then it hit me again. I had made my job my everything. I coudn't use the things I had learned, because it didn't apply to what I specifically had to do for work. I didn't use these skills because I had no need for it. Sure I could've freelanced and delved into other areas, but I had a full time job with benefits and decent pay. Why would I put my work on myself? But for the first time in my life, my mental health was suffering for a job that I didn't even care about anymore. Of course other things such as the usual work drama, being the only graphic designer, and a 2 and a half hour commute every day, definetly contributed, but I seriously found myself longing for another opportunity, longing for another job.

Ironically, a tramatizing car accident answered my prayers and gave me the courage I needed to actively search for new opportunies. I was able to nab me a job that I look forward to starting next week. However I felt guilty for taking it for many reasons.

  1. I would be leaving behind people that I formed relationships with.

  2. I was the only graphic designer, so my leaving with have some implications whether intentional or not to the business.

  3. Being a young African-American female in the design is already rare and the chances of getting a job is few and far between. So to leave it for another job was still a risk.

It wasn't until a specific micro-agression that it occurred to me that I realized it was time for me to go. I had already put in my 2 weeks notice, but I decided to leave sooner. Already I felt a sense of peace that I had not had in years, and a sense of freedom to finally not be stuck. I learned some important lessons for future.

  1. Never limit myself to what I do at work. Always keep learning.

  2. If there is an area of work that interests you, contact the person in that area and see what they can do for you.

  3. A job does not define you.

  4. Never stay at a place just for pay or benefits if it does not drive your passion or makes you feel a certain way.

Well that's all I have for now. Hopefully, for my next job I will be able to utilize everything that I learned. You are better than you think, give yourself more credit. I'm grateful that I took that risk because you never know where the opportunities may take you.

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