The Great Resignation 2021 – Why I Quit My Job

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been a global “trend” of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs. This is called the Great Resignation or the Big Quit by the media. My confession is that I am one of those who have quit my job voluntarily during the pandemic, and here’s my why.

about the Great Resignation

Graph from Wikipedia

The Great Resignation has mostly been recognized in the United States but is happening in multiple places in Europe as well, such as in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, “more than 40% of the global workforce are considering quitting their job in 2021″. That’s a lot.

But I don’t think it started during the pandemic. I think it began long before that.

For years I’ve noticed a very active crowd of people in social media that have advocated for a shift in mindset and attitude regarding work-life balance, remote working, financial independence, flexibility, and freedom. I have been one of them for years. Some related concepts that you may have heard of are digital nomad, van life, solopreneur, FIRE (financial independence, retire early), and other models of “breaking free” from the norms of working life.

“We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed,” says Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere.

Outdated Social Norms

We aren’t living in the 19th-century anymore. With the advancement of technology, urbanization, and globalization, most people who live in richer countries do not need to work 16-hour factory jobs to survive. Couples don’t need to get married anymore to be together, and women can be financially independent and live a good life without ever having children.

Yet, there’s still a very strong norm in a society where one is “supposed” to go a specific route in life. We are supposed to go to college or university, get a safe and secure employment at a company, and then work full-time until we’re old enough to retire. During this time, we also ought to find a partner, marry, buy expensive houses and cars, and have children. We’re supposed to dress like everyone else, not act too weird, and not be immature with idealistic dreams. Many of us go through life without even really questioning if we want to follow the usual path of life.


New ways of thinking

I think the COVID-19 pandemic gave people a chance to rethink how they live their lives: their careers, long-term goals, and day-to-day work conditions. Do we really want to go back to full-time office work post-pandemic? Do we even want to be employed doing the work we are doing? Do we even want to live the life we are “supposed” to live? Are there alternatives?

When things closed down, we spent a lot more time at home, introspecting, questioning, and thinking. If it’s the first time one has the chance to do that, then of course it’ll lead to quite a few life changes.

According to an Adobe study, the Great Resignation is driven by Millennials and Generation Z. If this is correct, it would suit well with my theory of a new ideology of how we can live life.

Why I Quite my Job

I’ve always been very interested in reaching FIRE (financial independence, retire early) and building income streams that will make me financially independent from employment at a company. Not because I hate companies, but because I want to own my own life. I don’t want to depend on either a person (parents, friends, or partner) or a company, to survive.

So, the idea of being self-employed or self-sufficient in one way or another has always been there. Even if I were to continue to work as an employee.

And then, during the pandemic, I went through multiple life-changing happenings at once. A breakup of a long-term relationship, graduating from university and losing that community of friends, living alone for the first time, and falling into a depression because of the isolation from socializing.

Related: Loneliness Living Alone? Tips on How to Deal With it

In addition, I experienced a heightened sense of stress from my job, as well as increased responsibilities and changed circumstances regarding colleagues. It was simply too many stressors at once, which made me question everything about my own life, and what I wanted.

I needed a break to take care of my mental health, and to just explore the fun and enjoyable side of life. I wanted to focus on achieving all of my “fun-dreams”, such as making a living off of blogging (this website), reading my list of 40+ books, painting big canvases, traveling, and studying an interesting master’s program abroad.

So, I quit my job as a UX/UI designer in tech during this “Great Resignation”. I am not sure if my actions were caused by the pandemic, or if it’s something I would’ve done anyway. But, I am sure that this weird time during COVID-19 has definitely changed who I am.

It’s been around 5 months now since I quit my job, and I am so happy that I did. It took me 2-3 months of almost exclusively resting, exercising, practicing yoga, meditating, and being kind to myself before my mental health had recovered. And during these past 2 months, I’ve finally had the energy to write and work on this blog, read all the books I wanted to read, and start painting again. I don’t know where I would’ve been if I didn’t quit my job during the pandemic, but I wouldn’t be here where I am today.

Are you planning on Quitting?

If you feel like you want to or need to quit your job, then I support that. However, I’d recommend you to first plan ahead financially and perhaps think about what you’d want out of your newfound time. It’s never a dumb idea to build up some savings before making such a jump. I think it can be hard to fully relax if one is too worried about money.

Whatever you do, just remember that life can and has every right to be exciting, beautiful, and enjoyable. I know that now. It doesn’t need to be filled with stress, anxiety, or worry. It doesn’t need to be according to what your parents or society tells you. It can be according to how you want to live. You can create and live in your own reality. It is possible to wake up each morning, excited about the work you’re doing, and be grateful for being alive.

Related: Take a Moment for Gratitude Every Day

Thanks for reading!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jackie

    This is, somehow, what happened for me too! But it was along time ago. The only thing I’m kind of struggling right now is to be stable in my income with my paintings. Since 2017 I’m no longer working for another person and since then I’ve been working to create something to myself. Alot of things happened in the middle for me to get where I am today, I think thing’s going to start to be more stable now. The exposition is always a challenge for me. I’d like to suggest a theme for a post, if you like, how do you make a living with your blog! It would be interesting! <3

    1. Wendy Zhou

      Wow, that’s so cool, that you are wholeheartedly pursuing painting! I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you for your suggestion! I’ve thought about writing an article on that, but I feel like there already are so many good articles written on that topic already on the internet heheh

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