About a month or two ago, my heart was feeling heavy. The world was (and still is) burning to the ground with an impending recession, my declining mental health, and symptoms of all that manifesting through my declining physical health.
I decided I needed a clean break from my day-to-day job, so I quit. I needed to say when it was over. A break was my call–in my court to initiate. It was cowardly to hope that some external force (like company layoffs) would do it for me.
So three weeks ago, I left my dream job at my dream company. The only thing is, my "dream job" changed or didn't come through as what I imagined it to me. The causes or reasons are too hard to talk about in detail. So, let's just say that the expectations were just not a match, and I wanted to hit the rest button. Hard.
I listened to a podcast about "quitting" and how our culture deems quitting with such negative connotation. But quitting, for me, has been liberating and created possibilities I didn't know I was allowed to have.
For one, I am passionate about accessibility. But for some time I felt I wasn't "allowed" to be an advocate for people with disabilities because I do not have a visible or permanent disability. I once wrote an uninformed blog post about how my chronic wrist pain opened my horizons around accessibility and I was called out for being, well, uninformed.
"My son has autism and will struggle to use the web for the rest of his life, but you cite one inconvenience and that makes you an expert?"
Those words stung, and turned me off from pursing that area of specialization. I was approaching it from a "hey, I'm just like you" angle, when really, I don't need to be "like you" to advocate for you. I eventually figured out why my approach was problematic, but for a while I was made to feel like I got it all wrong and I was the wrong person to work in accessibility.
Sometimes you have to make a big mistake to learn that, you, well, made a big mistake. You're not a moron. You just did a moronic thing at a single point in time, and if you learn from it and move on, the universal will restore its balance.
Even though I stepped away from an accessibility focus, I felt like I needed to really go after what I was passionate about, but I didn't know how to go about it. I talked to some people in the web accessibility community and I was welcomed with open arms to get into it, earnestly. I started to research certifications and credentials to fill out my gaps of knowledge.
Accessibility work can be self-taught, but there are frameworks in certifications that can make sure you teach yourself all the important stuff. Similar to self-taught web developers, a bootcamp or formal curriculum can do wonders in ensuring you're set up with the foundational knowledge to get started. The rest is up to you, for the long road.
I've been unemployed for 3 weeks, but this has been an incredible period of reflection and growth and maturing that I don't know would have been as fast and restorative had I not left my job. I think it's important to take rest, and put yourself first. While I understand not everyone has savings to help with their very real financial struggles, the most honourable thing you can do for yourself is save up just a little, just to get yourself by for a month or even two months.
Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you are the most important person to yourself; everyone else, really, comes after.