Last week, a Hare Krishna stopped me on the street. I love Hare Krishnas! They run my favorite vegetarian restaurant and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll pass by a few of them chanting with a harmonium in the pedestrian street downtown. One of my most cherished flea market finds is a 70s vinyl record of the Hare Krishna mantra.
So I chatted for a bit with the Hare Krishna man before he asked what I was doing in Denmark. I told him that I’d come for work five years ago, but that I’d just left my job. I’d quit my six figure job!
Then he asked, ‘why did you leave your job?’
‘Because it was negative,’ I said. i quit my six figure job
Then in an East meets West moment, I told him I’d better be going because I was on my way to talk with my therapist about why I quit my six figure job.
On the long walk to and from seeing my therapist, I realized that ‘negative’ succinctly summed up the past year. Lots of great things had happened… I’d sold my apartment and moved in with Robert, we’d gotten married, started our life together, and traveled lots, but the stress of my work environment was always bubbling under the surface and weighing us down.
It’s been therapeutic, if not self indulgent to meet with a therapist for an hour every week on my former employer’s dime to talk ad nauseam about my work woes. But it doesn’t take a professional to figure out that my department, rife with management issues had become toxic, and it was ruining my life.
I Quit My Six Figure Job Because I Wasn’t Well
I’d had street cred and a six-figure income, but I wasn’t well. I was so sick that my doctor had put me on leave and referred me to a psychologist specializing in work-related stress. At my first appointment, she’d said, ‘you’re being harassed, you’re showing signs of PTSD, and you can’t go back to that environment.’
Not so long ago, it would’ve been a catastrophic diagnosis. I’d have had 3 months to up sticks and leave Denmark… it took over six months just to sell my apartment and merge addresses with Robert. Fortunately, I’d just gotten permanent residency, so deportation was not on the agenda.
At this level, stress is considered a serious illness in Denmark, and it’s possible to be out on sick leave for up to 120 days before an employer can fire you. My doctor wouldn’t sign me back in to work, so I had time to make peace with the situation before pulling the pin out of the hand grenade and chucking it smack dab into the middle of everything I thought I knew about my life and my identity. Denmark is renowned for its social safety net, but as a foreigner and as someone with considerable assets, I’m not entitled to any benefits. You’ve read that correctly… I’ve paid in several hundred thousand dollars over the past five years, and I get nothing. But at least I won’t get deported.
I’ve worked for the same employer for nearly a decade. I have a video game character named after me. I went from working on small B-list websites to being the Senior Managing Editor of the whole shebang; millions of people saw my work every month. I’d moved continents for this. My job was my identity, and when people found out what I did, I was the most interesting person in the room… even more interesting than Robert, whose book is coming out in Chinese later this year.
Letting go of all of that was hard on my ego.
Moving On After I Quit My Six Figure Job
The elephant in the room is the fact that I live in Denmark and my Danish sucks. How am I supposed to make a living when I can’t speak the language?
I’m a writer, I’ve always been a writer, and I’ll always be a writer. I went to an arts high school on a writing scholarship. I won a full scholarship to university and was the first freshman to win my campus’ literary competition. I’ve been a digital copywriter since the internet became a thing, and I’m fresh off a gig as Senior Managing Editor for the website of one of the most powerful brands in the world. So I’m going to make a living doing what I do best.
Last week, I met a friend and former colleague for lunch. Tucking into our Thai food, we talked about paying our dues and all we’ve been through these past years, and she said, ‘you know the best thing about being 40? You don’t have to take any crap.’ And she’s absolutely right.
I’ve given up a six-figure salary, which I was raised to think was the pinnacle of happiness and success. But I’ve also given up negativity, stress, and the sick feeling that’s lived relentlessly in the pit of my stomach every weekday for the past year.
I’m 40, I’m done taking crap, I’m taking control of my life, and I’m feeling better every day. I quit my six figure job, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
P.S. If anyone out there is looking for a freelance copywriter or editor, I’m your woman ; -) You can get in touch with me via my Media page.