Why I don’t regret walking away from my dream job
I jumped up and down in my mom’s kitchen — literally jumped up and down for a solid 10 minutes. I had just landed my first job in a newsroom! The following year, I landed my dream job in a newsroom as a producer. Fast forward to three and a half years after I first jumped around the kitchen, filled with excitement, because my dreams came true — I walked out of the newsroom and never looked back.
Turns out my dream job didn’t fit with my dream life.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job. I loved who I was when I stepped into the newsroom. I was smart, I was quick, I acted with discernment. I was a journalist. I loved being a journalist. I worked hard everyday to produce something that I was proud of, something that made my community a better place.
But, at home, I hated myself. I was stressed and I was exhausted.
I spent most of my days before work on the couch, catching up on work or catching up on sleep. In the final few months of my employment, I spent a lot of days on the couch, crying and convincing myself to go to my “dream job.” I tried to not think about the rest of my life while I was at my desk.
I was irritable and cynical, and every relationship in my life was suffering. I felt like I had nothing left for myself, let alone anything left to give to the people I loved.
I wasn’t living -- I was working.
My dream life was slipping away. Some of you may think that my decision to quit wasn’t really based on my quality of life — you may think I gave up on my dream job because I simply couldn’t hack it. You aren’t the first. My mother said the same thing to me once during a bad week at work — maybe I should walk away because I couldn’t handle the stress, because I wasn’t built for it.
But those assumptions are wrong. I could hack it. I could hack it with the best of them. I was one of the best TV news producers in town, producing a show that got better as I got better.
I could hack it, but I didn’t want to anymore.
See, as kids, we’re always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It feels like that was one of the only question the grown-ups asked us. Do you want to be a firefighter? A policeman? A teacher? A doctor?
We’re taught that we are what we do, that our worth is directly tied to what we do for a paycheck. We’re never asked what we want our lives to look like.
It’s an important question. What do you want your life to look like? Do you want to travel and see the world? Do you want three kids and a home and a white picket fence? Do you want to spend your life learning and teaching others? Do you want a life in a big city or a small town — or someplace in between?
I started asking myself these questions about halfway into my short lived “dream job.” It was New Year’s Eve, and I was talking over drinks with a friend who had worked in radio. Not only had he worked in radio, he worked his dream job in radio. He was living in the big city producing a morning sports show that he had listened to since he was a kid. The job asked him to sacrifice a lot of things in his life, and he decided it wasn’t worth it. He walked away. He decided it wasn’t what he wanted his life to look like.
So I started thinking, is this what I really want my life to look like?
The answer was screaming at me loud and clear, flashing in neon colors: NO.
My real dream life meant being home in the evening to cook dinner. I really like cooking dinner. I like spending quality time with my fiance and our two dogs because we are a team. I love being a team. My dream life is sitting on my front porch while the neighborhood kids play in the front yards. It’s spending the holidays building traditions. It’s laughing until I cry with my best friends. It’s building relationships.
Instead, I was working. And I was miserable.
So, I walked away. I found a new job. Was it hard? You betcha. I miss it every single day. But guess what? I’m still the same person I was before. I’m still smart, I’m still quick, I still work to create something I’m proud of everyday. Yeah, it’s not my dream job, but it doesn’t change who I am while I’m doing it. The only thing that has changed is my ability to build the life I actually want for myself.
You are how you live, you are more than what you do. Your life is about more than what you receive a paycheck for.
Camille Troxel is a former journalist and current amateur marketer, working to sell her hometown in Eastern Washington to the masses. She has a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Film. She loves music, writing, coffee, and wine, but she mostly loves her two dogs (who she likes more than most people). You can find her on Twitter where you’ll be bombarded with more dog photos than you can handle.