New Life, Who Dis?
You are not your job. You are not your boyfriend. So get up, brush off the dust and move on.
This past summer, after three years, I left behind the job that shaped the beginning of my career. About a week later, my boyfriend of the better part of those three years dumped me. In a matter of ten days, the majority of my known adult “identity” was completely unraveled, half at my own behest and half decided for me. Both of these scenarios were long overdue –it’s almost comical how parallel the relationships were, both in terms of their effect on me as well as my investment in them. While they both were vital in my development as an adult, they were both the most stressful paths I could have chosen.
As a young person, your career and your relationships often become a large part of your identity. We are programmed to believe success is the main component of normalcy and happiness. We define ourselves within these parameters, because not only are they taking up most of our time, but they are also the primary substitutes to orient life around when you haven’t figured out who you are yet. And that’s why they are so easy to fall into and so hard to leave.
The difference between “quitting” and “giving up” seems negligible, but I felt it. Quitting implies you are in control, regardless of circumstance. Giving up denotes feeling helpless, resigning yourself to passive participation until something happens. I quit my job. I gave up on my relationship, and then my ex basically quit me.
I began my career with an internship that turned into a marketing assistant position, which then turned into a marketing director position at age 22. I had a modest salary, but I justified it with the perks of connections in the creative industry and having permission to be very hands-on. I liked my co-workers and bosses and, for my age, I had a very “cool” sounding position. I made amazing friends and connections, and saw projects that originated from my ideas come to fruition. I was usually tired and broke, but I loved what I did and all the access it provided gave me most of what I wanted at the time. Like any young New Yorker with a college degree, my main discontent with my career situation was money, but I still felt this sense of loyalty to my company and that I needed to stick around.
I felt this same sense of loyalty to my relationship. We met through my job in 2012, and while we spent nearly every waking moment together and laughed a lot, our relationship was not healthy. We depended on my credit line to survive, as we both made barely enough money to live. He left the company we worked for, but then we worked together at a second job that I secured and then set him up with, furthering the imbalance of dependence on each other.