What I learned by quitting my dream job

If you know me even a little bit, you will know that my middle name is dementia. My life has been defined by this dreaded and dreadful condition. As a teenager, I was a young carer to my mom who lived and died of Young Onset Alzheimer’s in her 40s. Everything I did from then on for the next decade was either to cope with the onslaught and aftermath or merely survive. When I finally got myself together, I dreamed only of making a difference to the lives of others living specifically with Young Onset Dementia. And I did just that for a year in 2012 as an almost full-time volunteer at the Alzheimer Association in Chicago and then as a Social Worker at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto from June 2015 to December 2017. I did some exceptional work and learned some invaluable lessons. I had started out wanting to support people living with dementia and their families, but I walked away forever changed by them.

It took me six long months to actually put in my resignation. After all, how could it be that I wanted to leave? I loved my job. But having done a lot of work through therapy on myself, I have learned to trust my gut. It was demanding that I move on. So I did. My last week at work, I was inundated with calls, emails, cards, hugs, coffees and lunches from colleagues, clients, professional contacts. A part of me was questioning my decision, but the other part kept saying, “That’s the way to leave…on a high!”

So…here I am 3 months after I have quit. I am at the beginning of a new journey – setting up my own business as a private practice therapist. I can tell you I have not one ounce of regret. Here is what I learned about myself:

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  • I have evolved. So have my dreams.
  • I want to be a learner for life.
  • I will always make space. Even if it means giving up something good.
  • Time is money. I will own my time.
  • I am worth more than the money I make.
  • I am willing to try new things, even if it means I fail.
  • I am more than one thing at any given moment.
  • No one is allowed to tell me how to feel about myself.
  • My work does not define me.
  • I want to invest in me doing things I love and being with people I love.
  • If I can give up the one thing I’ve always wanted, I can live without anything.
  • My ambition now is to lose typical ambition.
  • I am more than the pain I went through.

I think the last learning has been a long time coming. Had I not had the opportunity to work in my dream job, I would still be empty. Now that I have given back to the cause that has shaped me allowed me to become whole, I can move on.

In the last 3 months, I have done a lot of fun things like taking vacations and spending time with people I love and reading all night. And I have done a lot of administrative things like landing two amazing part-time gigs and setting up my practice.

However, the most important thing I have done is go to a 11.5 day silent residential meditation retreat and develop a daily meditation practice that is non-guided. I think the biggest act of self-love is to love myself even if I will never be all the things I once dreamed of. This is exceptionally hard for I am a typical type A personality who is intelligent, driven and extremely competitive.

Don’t get me wrong. I will work. I will work hard to have my practice flourish. But I no longer feel or want the pressure to be the most visible dementia warrior. I have let go of my pain identity.

I am free.

3 thoughts on “What I learned by quitting my dream job

  1. Shraddha Hattangady Mehta March 6, 2018 — 9:35 pm

    Well done. I am thrilled and waiting to see what beautiful things you are gonna bring in other’s, your’s and our life thorough your passion in your work. Wishing you the best always!
    Love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am just taking each day as a learning experience.

      Like

  2. Vivek Hattangady March 8, 2018 — 2:53 am

    Great work. Well done. Continue to keep your spirits high.

    Like

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