How I knew it was time to quit my job. I felt scared, every.single.day.
I had been working at the same company for 15 years in various HR roles. I had been uneasy at work for a while. Everything seemed to be an issue. Everything. I was exhausted by those that were malicious, simply for the sake of being malicious. I watched employees be cruel, talk cruelly and execute cruel behaviors simply because. Because they were bored because someone they didn’t like got promoted, because they wanted attention, because of the unknown…because. It was exhausting. Who would be their next target? Would it be me?
Now, let me preface “Would it be me” by saying it would not be the first time I was under attack by the viciousness of employees. I had survived other attacks on my character and HR practices in the past. I was never worried before because I never had anything to hide. Why were things different now? Why was I worried now? Now, I just could no longer handle it. Yes, trust me, I know you are thinking – why not deal with the employee? We did but that is another article.
I was worried because I was dealing with incredible burnout. I lived in fear every.single.day. I was convinced that I sucked at my job, that I was making poor hires, that I was not effectively developing my team, that someone would get hurt, that I would be the next victim of hateful employees. I was combative. I lost my ability to truly be effective at my job. The list went on and on. Was it time to quit?
I went to work in robot mode. My life became full-on robot mode. I cut myself off from my friends, I showed up for family only when necessary, and I did damage to my health. Each day was go to work and go home. It was all I could manage. I went to bed each night exhausted only to live the same day over and over again.
Finally, I realized none of this was worth it. This was my issue. I could no longer do the job. I began to refer to my job as soul-sucking and I began to refer to myself as cold and dead inside. For some reason, I chose to live this way for a while.
Then, COVID hit. Are you freaking kidding me???
Look, I get it. COVID had an impact on the entire world. I was not special. For me, it was the icing on the cake.
My deep sense of loyalty to my organization, which had been so good to me for so many years got me through the next 18 months. We all went into overdrive trying to figure out how to keep our people and the business safe and yet productive. During this entire process, I had those viscous employees pissed off at me because of the unknown, blaming me. Let me go on record stating that before burnout, I didn’t care if I got blamed. I understood people and they just needed someone to listen. They needed to be heard. But now, I just didn’t have it in me to figure out new COVID procedures and listen to the incessant, senseless bitching. I just couldn’t do it.
The best part for me was that I was living in isolation so COVID simply legitimized my reasons for staying isolated.
Like everyone else, we figured out how to keep going.
Except me. I was lower than ever. If I had to hear one more employee complaint or threat or childish behavior, I was going to jump off a bridge. That’s it. Done.
At the end of 2020, I decided it was time. I had two weeks off around Christmas time. I had some time to get away. Take a break. Disconnect. I decided to turn in my resignation as soon as I began to feel my anxiety rise again. I made it to January 15th. This was a happy day.
First, my company made me a few very generous offers to stay on or stay longer. This was wonderful but it was just too late. I had made the decision. I was leaving. If I started to make decisions based on money, I would still be there. I agreed to work until they found a replacement. Things got better once I resigned. I knew that soon I would be free.
My last day was June 1st, 2021. It was months before I could stop looking at my phone the second I opened my eyes in the morning. It took even longer for me to feel comfortable doing anything. Finally, by Spring/Summer 2022 that I began to reconnect with my amazing friends, who welcomed me back with open arms. I do have the best people in my life.
It has been a little over two years since I chose me over my career or my finances. I do not have one single regret. My early retirement allows me to care for my aging parents, I got a puppy, and I found my heart and soul. Many parts of me are forever change and I will never be the fun, outgoing person I once was but I feel free to live again.
Burnout is real. It takes over without us realizing what is going on. If you feel anxious or scared for no obvious reason, it could be happening to you.
The most important thing to remember is to take care of you. No one can care for you as well as you. Remember what matters most: you, your family, your friends. Everything else is just noise. Pay attention to the signs so you will know if it becomes time to quit.