Thoughts on Leaving My High Paying Software Job

I majored in computer science. Throughout college I learned to like it. Initially, I was not passionate about it. I simply chose it for the promise of financial stability. But it turns out the subject was interesting enough. The study of computer science has tremendously advanced our society and culture in the past century. We wouldn't have our iPhones or even Google without it.

I spent five years studying towards my my degree. And I've built up an pretty sweet resume over the course of four internships in four different cities. During my last year of college, I flew to San Francisco, then to New York, did several phone and Skype interviews, then again to San Francisco, all to ultimately decided that my first full-time, yuppy job out of college would be in my current city of Austin, Texas. I comforted myself by reminding myself this job would be as temporary as I decide it to be.

When I started working, it was such a relief to go home at 5:30 and not have homework to complete or quizzes to study for. And what a relief it was to have a nice paycheck and to have enough money to not think about money. Life was good.

My first team placement after training did not work out too well. Turns out a manager in another state overseeing a team with new grads is not a good combination. So three months later I got placed on another team with a manager that was much better. That was all fine and dandy for the little while. But as I explored my interests on the evenings and weekends, the idea of climbing the corporate ladder sounded less and less appealing. When I was at work I'd stare out the window and want to be outside. I knew when I got off work the sun would be down, I'd either run, or go to a yoga class and then it'd be time to eat, then sleep and do it all over again. My list of personal projects was ever growing with rarely enough time to complete anything. 

What I did at work did not interest me. 
The nine to five routine became a grind. The Monday through Friday work week felt like a social prison.

Although the hours were somewhat flexible and I excelled and even got a pay raise on my mediocre efforts, I still had to arrange my life around a job I did not care about and around a lifestyle I did not agree with. 

And I know, as fresh college graduate in 2014, I had made this privileged life for myself that others my age would kill for. I don’t regret any part of the conventional path I’ve taken so far. I’ve learned a great deal and there are many worse things than having an unsatisfying job. I know I'm griping about first world problems here. But for any problem, I like to think about solutions. I didn't want to sabotage my efforts, so first I decided to question what I have.

So, I asked myself, why am I still working here?

My answers:
The pay and stability.
The novelty and prestige.
My college degree.
The societal vision of what adulthood should look like.

And my logic to why I don't need to hold on to those things:

The pay was great but I don’t need that much right now. I don't have student loans and I participate relatively little in the consumer culture. Although it is nice, I don't need that much pay right now. I don't plan to buy a house or condo, and I don't have to provide for a family. And besides, in the past year I've accumulated a pretty good looking savings account I can use while I figure out another source of income. 

The prestige and novelty of being a rad female software engineer. I liked the surprise, pleasure, and fear I evoked when people found out I'm in the technology industry - as a software engineer. I'm smart, I know how to code, and I probably made more money than most other people my age. Honestly, I liked feeling the cultural approval for my efforts. But pride is a silly thing. Pride doesn’t make me a better person. Pride serves my ego but it doesn’t serve my wellbeing. 

The college degree. Five years of studying for quizzes and exams, interviews, career fairs, and conferences, internships, and more interviewing: I've gained so much from my experiences. I worked and completed a B.S. in Computer Science at University of Texas and it was a very difficult five years. From that I learned that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. And knowing that I can accomplish anything, I would be would be limiting myself if I kept at doing something that didn't interest me. From completing that degree, I gained the confidence I'll need to get from point A to point B and I know I can learn whatever I need along the way.

And that idea of adulthood. You go to work, get paid, and buy pretty things. You drag your feet during the week waiting for the precious weekends. You wait for next quarter, next summer, next vacation. You wait for the next pay raise or promotion. You buy a house, start a family. Then wait for the kids to grow up and get out. Then wait for retirement and finally when you’re old you'll have time to do whatever interests you. That's not for me. I want to pursue my interests now. I don't need to and I don't want to fulfill our cultural vision of "adulthood."

So instead of just talking about it, I did it. I left that job.

Now I’m about two months into what I like to call “fun employment.” I’ve been living off my last few paychecks and because I recently bought a new laptop, I’ll have to dip into my savings account soon. I’m creating some monetary income from teaching yoga and freelancing websites. Yoga, running, art, reading, cooking, cleaning and seeing my friends and boyfriend keep me busy. I haven’t yet produced any large fruits of my labor, but I’m reminding myself that everything takes time. It was after five years of college and internships that my software job manifested and right now I’m only two months into my self employment projects. I certainly wasn’t making money two months into college, so I’m doing great!  

I know my savings account eventually will empty out if I don’t bring in more money, and I’m not sure yet exactly how I’m going to create more income. I don’t know what I’ll be doing five years from now - I don’t even know what my interests will be either. Sometimes I feel worried or frustrated and that’s okay. It’s natural for humans to feel ungrounded or nervous when faced with uncertainty. And it’s silly to worry about the future too much when the only guaranteed moment is now. So today I’ll continue to direct my energy to bring my ideas down towards manifestation, first by writing this piece. 

 

TLDR: Monday-Friday, 9-5 does not resonate with me so I quit my job and I'm learning how to be okay with the unknown.