Climbing from a part-time retail sales associate to the Sr. Director of Business Intelligence and Logistics as our company grew from four stores to forty, my career path was every start-up employee’s dream. With each new role I was given responsibilities far exceeding my experience level that made me proud, excited, and determined to succeed. I traveled to New York City twice a year for toy fair and retail conferences among other travel, I had credibility in the industry as a key player in the supply chain, I steered the company through many bumpy roads and helped them avoid many failures. I was working insane hours alongside a small team of co-workers turned lifelong friends, enjoying the highs and lows of this work obsession together. I described myself as a workaholic, defining my vocation, my self, and my character by swallowing this persona fully. It was madness and all consuming, but I was bought in and bought in one hundred percent.
Then one day this all changed. For the first time I identified feelings of detachment, growing to a full discontent with the people, the place, the success, and the idea of my vocation entirely. I woke up and realized that I no longer identified with the mass retail industry in its consumeristic drive, its disregard for the true well-being of its customers, its empty purpose in this beautiful and hurting world. The once found joy in solving problems was replaced with a bleak indifference as I grieved the loss of this company I once loved. Not its loss to me then, but the loss of the company it was when I started: a small, closely knit group of people that came together to fight for something great. It was over and so was my time there.
My journey towards quitting took a few months longer than it should have. I was mentally done about four months before I handed in my resignation letter, but it took the counsel of good friends, the words of wise authors and poets, and a boldness of self finally realized to get me to that day. At the suggestion of a friend, I read Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer, and it opened my eyes to so much life-giving truth. Before I read this book, my only thoughts about vocation centered on Frederick Buechner’s quote, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need,” but I didn’t quite know how to live into that calling. Here are some words that pulled me further into contemplating vocation:
These words, along with the poem Journey from the beloved Mary Oliver (see below), spurred me to quit, to reclaim my life and live into the idea of finding my real self. After hearing these words I couldn’t ignore them. I couldn’t carry on with the discordant mental state of unfaithfulness. And so I quit without a job lined up but a future holding plans to travel the world, invest in relationships, fill my days with creative endeavors, and search for this divine intersection of deep gladness and deep need. May 13th, 2016 was my last day of work, and I have not regretted it for one second since. Not one single second.
For those of you considering this change: yes there are bills and yes there are expectations and yes it’s scary to venture into the unknown, but it is essential to striving deeper and deeper into the world of true vocation. Now is the time. You will never find the life you’re seeking if you can’t close the door to your current discontented life and turn towards the shadowy yet bright welcoming doors of the unknown.