Three months ago I quit my cushy 6 figure software engineering job because I was burning out.
I went through over a year trying to cope, maybe partially it was the pandemic and partially because of the corporate life I was dealing with. But I knew that mentally and emotionally I was not doing my best.
I didn’t feel like I was growing at the pace I wanted, and opportunities at work seemed to be passed onto others, and I felt that my work began to become repetitive after some time. I started to grow resentful. And I started to lose confidence.
Unlike some I had a choice to leave my job. Many people during this time in 2022 and 2023 had experienced layoffs. The economy and world feels a lot less friendly and a lot less stable now than it was a few years ago before the pandemic.
In a way I am grateful for the choice to be able to step away from corporate world for a period and to tend to my own well-being. However, I face other anxieties about whether I would be able to get another role as a software engineer again. In a way I traded one mental health problem for another.
Some people encouraged me to take the leap, while others cautioned against leaving without a job. I think in a way, having this job insecurity in the midst of a crazy and uncertain economy has taught me a few things.
1) A 6-figure paycheck is not the norm
Not everyone is able to get a 6-figure paycheck, especially as I looked at different possible jobs out there to supplement not having an income, I noticed many basic roles in the food and hospitality industry all had wages well below a quarter of the years earning for a 6-figure white collar worker. Rent in many places are extremely high, especially for places like New York City or San Francisco. Earning more money offered freedom to live in more safer neighborhoods and housing, whereas those who could not, tended to have to share rooms with strangers and live in more unsafe areas with less security.
2) There is a Lack of affordable housing
Renting requires most folks to have a job, which needs to be oftentimes 3 times the amount of the monthly rent. Good places to rent are not very common, and if they exist requires a good steady paycheck to afford.
3) Healthcare is expensive
Thankfully I live in California, so there are state support health care options, however, things like COBRA can be somewhat expensive, which when unemployed and not earning can be an extra expense dwindling the savings.
4) Job Hunting can be brutal
Though people have said you can learn from job hunting rejections and interviews, it still can be brutal to the mental health. Being rejected by multiple places can give one a sense they aren’t good enough at what they do. It can be hard for someone who is already dealing with low self confidence, financial insecurities, health issues, and so on to handle all the challenges that one faces when looking for a job.
5) Change is never easy
When a big change happens in our lives, it’s never going to be easy. There will be a lot of discomfort before we adapt and grow from the experience. I had experienced a lot of big life changes, and although sometimes I feel like I’m at a deep breaking point, I recognize that if I could make it through I become more resilient and capable than before. I mature in a way that allows me to remain strong, and in some ways use my knowledge to help others. Sometimes we don’t know it, but we matter to others and that our existence has a purpose.
Though I still struggle with the back and forth of figuring out what to do next, I know that giving up isn’t a choice. I continue to upskill, and focus on connecting with those in my community, and giving back. I won’t live forever, and this too shall pass. I must keep doing my best, and leaving this world better than I found it. To those who are struggling similarly to me, remember that sometimes you just got to take a break, breath, and take it one moment at a time. You’ve got this!