It’s been several weeks since I last posted a blog entry. I’m fully aware not many people read this, but all two of my friends that periodically check my site have really let me hear about it. Matter of fact, I’m not even certain that they read it. They may just randomly check on my posts in order to see if there’s something else they can give me a hard time about.
The heartfelt concern and valuable insight that my friends provide me with (sometimes too often) actually played a huge part in why I temporarily refrained from posting.
As you may have been able to discern from my last post, I was on the verge of making a big decision. I was weighing the pros and cons of remaining in China to look for other employment opportunities versus embarking on this search for meaningful work while stateside.
Well. I am currently drafting this entry on a plane that is traveling from Pudong International Airport to Dallas Fort Worth, where I will then head to Charlotte, North Carolina. For those of you who aren’t too great at making inferences, I quit my job.
After communicating the details of my departure to my boss about a month ahead of time, I began to transition off of projects and slowly began to clear out my desk (my mom always said it’s easier to do something a little bit at a time, rather than all at once). I began meeting with friends and coworkers for “one last time,” and as of June 11th, no longer worked or resided in Shanghai.
I apologize for the “all over the place” nature of this post. As of this moment, I left China just a week ago. I’ve been slowly documenting my experience, compiling my thoughts on the quitting process, but have held off on publishing anything about my experiences because as some of my close friends put it, “I dunno, bro. Ya don’t wanna risk any bad press with potential employers by bashing your last job.”
To that, I say that just by talking about quitting, doesn’t mean you’re bashing your past employer. However, I obviously felt the sentiment had some validity and held off on posting about it for a few weeks. By waiting as long as I did, I certainly think that I can talk about my experiences with more of an objective outlook.
So, anyways. Here’s what happened.
Following my last post about my search for passion, I convened with the people I care about. That means Skype sessions and Snap-versations with my close friends and, of course, my parents. Since I just watched Game of Thrones, I’m currently imagining myself as a wartime general (think Jon Snow, or Stannis Baratheon… preferably Jon Snow) who is meeting with his closest advisors (think Sir Davos, or Tormund… both awesome characters). Essentially, it was a lot of me sitting in a chair, massaging my temple while I try to sit calmly while people tell me what the best course of action is.
During this process, I shared my feelings with my friends, and as you would expect, they were all relatively supportive of my goals and ideas. However, looking back on the whole process, there was one moment that I feel cemented my outlook.
When a kid who grows up with a relatively serious and stern dad hears his dad focusing on happiness and the things we could consider ‘intangibles,’ rather than on the more conventional metrics used to judge success (like salary, or the value of a portfolio), the kid tends to pay attention.
I think it was unfair of me to assume my dad would view the situation in a frame solely focused on the monetary prosperity and networking opportunities. Hearing him talk about the importance of mental health, and maintaining a positive outlook on things caught me unnecessarily off guard.
While I grew up with a dad who consistently appeared to be on top of things, sure of himself and what needs to be done for his family, I never really compared my own pursuit of happiness with that of my father’s, or my mother’s for that matter. Yes, it’s true that I often let out an exasperated groan or moan when they advise me on things, but as I travel deeper into the great adventure that is being in your 20’s I certainly take their insights into account more and more.
It’s straight up impressive how right they are about so many things.
So after getting the encouragement from all of my friends and family, I decided that I’d quit. Upon making this decision, I immediately began to feel fear creeping into my mind.
I was going to have to have a one-on-one with my boss, who is great guy but has understandably never reacted well to someone essentially saying, “thanks for giving me money for a while, but I gotsta gooooo.”
To his credit, as well as to those I worked with, my departure was civil and smooth.
I had to deal with the people I’d gotten to know. I had to deal with the people I hadn’t gotten to know too.
This means that I had to have those awkward conversations with people where it becomes clear that you’re not really friends, but have to act pleasant and nice because it’s just what a person is supposed to do. Even though they don’t care at all, they are obligated to inquire about my future plans and aspirations. And even though I don’t really care, I have to act as though I will cherish the experiences I had until the end of my days. They forever changed my life.
As irritatingly fake as it all may seem, it’s just what ya do.
In addition to the people, I had to situate bank accounts, rent payments, gym memberships, and phone bills… all the fun stuff you try to avoid in everyday life.
As for me personally, I was now coming to grips with the idea that I was all the way on the other side of the planet, almost entirely on my own in a society that predominantly consists of people who I can’t communicate with (I speak Chinese well enough to yell at a taxi driver, or ask for a cold beer). I was about to move out of my apartment, become unemployed, and start all over. All after having been removed from the society I originally came from for just under a year. Obviously you can see how this situation could create a bit of tension or unease.
But as I sat quietly in my apartment, I began to feel something even more powerful than fright. Excitement. Was I really about to “start all over?” Yes, I’d done a lot over the last 11 months. I’d worked for a large company for close to a year. I’d networked, forging many promising professional relationships. I’d developed and completed some great projects.
Were these about to disappear? No. Would they still be useful in my future endeavors? Yes. Was I now going to spend my time focused on things I enjoy and care about? Yaaaaaaasss.
For now, I am back in Charlotte, North Carolina indefinitely. I have been applying to production assistant jobs and other positions related to writing and production in Charlotte, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. Honestly, while I find the right place, I’m just trying to see all my friends and visit my family members while I can. I know that life can quickly overwhelm a person, and keep them so busy that it may be easier to shift into a manner of living comparable to an autopilot setting. Right now, I’m trying to plan for the future, but live for today.
SIDE NOTE: With Father’s day just passing us by, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how I’m now not just excited about my professional future. Thanks to my friends, family, and some good quiet car rides by myself, I feel rejuvenated and optimistic about my ‘life prospects.’
While our jobs are often referred to as “how we make our living,” I’m excited make an attempt at creating something like what my parents did together. Thanks, pops!