280 // When Should You Quit Your Depressing Job?

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Timing is everything in this world, just ask Rolex. Timing is not an easy thing to prepare for because sometimes it can be as random as getting punched in the face and then giving your friend a lift to an audition and then accidentally getting the leading role in a film called Mad Max, as happened to Mel Gibson. I think that is called ‘right place, right time‘. The casting director spotted Mel Gibson because of the cuts and bruises he received from being punched. Mel Gibson then quit his job as ‘man who gets punched in the face’ to become an international film star, only to quit that job to finally realise his dream of becoming a bigotted anti-semite.

Then you have people like Neil Robertson, another Australian who famously quit his job and moved to the UK with £100 to follow his dream to be a Snooker star. He went on to win the World Championship in 2010, and that is a wonderful story. But I can’t help think we aren’t hearing about the 10,000 people who also quit their job to follow a dream and then ended up homeless but with fabulous jazz hands.

The fact is luck plays a huge part in the success people have and if you happen to speak to any ‘successful’ people they will whine on for 30 minutes about how hard they worked to be where they are before dropping in an unbelievable case of good fortune that got them their break. That is not to say they aren’t talented or didn’t work hard, but the reality is there are far more hard-working talented people in this world than there are ‘successful’ people.

Of course, you could be like Mel Gibson and ‘success’ will come knocking at your door or you can work unbelievably hard your whole life and never have any success at all like David Ellamore*. Or you could tentatively try to reach your goal and end up timidly belly flopping like a kid learning to dive for the first time. The bravest people certainly seem to find success more readily than the timid amongst us.

Having said that though, as strange as it may seem, I don’t want to be in the ‘worked hard, took a chance and ended up homeless’ category, so when is it the right time to quit and follow your dream?

I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that I dislike my current job immensely, and barring writing it on my forehead I don’t think I could have conveyed that to my employers any better either. The act of doing the job is not the difficult part though, the tasks are relatively easy and the pace is not too demanding.

The issue I have mentally though is two-fold.

The first issue is dealing with the mental struggle associated with modern (and historical) society’s desire to define people by their work. You’re a doctor, a musician, a footballer, an actor, except you’re probably none of those things. You’re probably an office worker, a salesman, a cook, a receptionist, a shop assistant or a cleaner. That is not to put anyone down or to talk poorly of these jobs, but defining a whole person based upon those jobs I think can be mentally crushing. Especially when people refer to you as ‘only a… ‘. Even more so when my ambitions and skills lie elsewhere, but despite these skills and ambitions, I am without a doubt a call centre worker – only a call centre worker.

The second issue is spending time with lost and resigned souls who had similar ambitions but gave them up for whatever reason. That makes conversations about ambitions difficult. You can’t say you want to write a book about X or write a song about Y because David has already tried and failed, with the presumption now being you don’t need to bother either.

So where does that leave a person mentally? Well, the short answer is; not in a great place.

At some point, I need to leave, and I will, but I know if I leave completely I will be leaving the job into a place of more struggle. On the odd occasion I can raise my head above the dense fog of negativity at work I don’t see a horizon filled with better things, not immediately anyway, I see more difficult times ahead. Times when I will struggle to pay bills or have to reassure everyone around me that earning money from a ‘normal’ job is depressingly unfulfilling.

Naturally, I’m trying to find a happy medium at the moment where I can explore creative industry as well as earn money from a crushingly depressing job. That is why I only work part-time and that is why for the time being I don’t need to quit. Maybe I just need to get beat up and hang around the head offices of some publishers or be Australian.

Paul Green

*You won’t get this reference because firstly he isn’t successful but secondly he doesn’t exist.

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