The Day I Quit My First Real Job
Today, I quit my job.
Why? You ask. I just started working there 6 months ago, aren’t I grateful to have a full-time job? To be an occupational therapist?
Let me tell you a story about one of my patients. This patient was in the hospital with gangrene in both of his feet from Type 2 diabetes. His feet were completely black. He was feeling down about the situation and didn’t want to do therapy, so I thought I’d sit with him for a while and just talk. I told him how I love to travel and all the places I’ve been and his eyes lit up. He asked me if I’d ever been on a cruise and I said I hadn’t. He said he and his wife went on a cruise to celebrate their retirement. They had been working nonstop their whole lives to save up money so they could travel when they retired and finally enjoy more quality time together. He said he is so grateful that they got to go on that cruise together. His wife passed away shortly after from a massive stroke.
As he told me this story, his eyes welled up with tears, as did mine. He told me how much he misses his wife every day. He told me to go travel as much as I can and spend time with loved ones, because you never know when they will be gone, drift away like a feather in the wind.
This is what occupational therapy is ultimately about, living life to it’s fullest. I am passionate about the health and wellness of others, and want people to feel their best so they are able to optimize their lives and live out their passions and curiosities. I want to prevent or reverse so many diseases and conditions that can be managed through lifestyle, create opportunities to fly despite any drawbacks. And we all have drawbacks.
In order to help others, I must first help myself. I need to lead by example. I believe that self-care is critical to emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. In America, people are consumed by this idea that more is better. That the more we hustle, the more money we’ll make and the more successful we’ll be. But what is success to you?
To me, success is freedom. Freedom to travel, freedom to choose who I spend my time with or what I spend my time doing, freedom to create, and yes, financial freedom as well. Lately I’ve been spending more time with myself and digging deeper into what I really want. I’ve been doing more writing, yoga, meditation, having deep conversations with people about things I love, things I’m curious about, things I’m fearful of, exploring my dark side as well as my light side. And for years I’ve been invested in this concept of “wellness,” exploring books, podcasts, blogs, articles, and having conversations with people about mindfulness concepts, nutrition, self-care, stress management, movement, and the mind/body/spirit connection. This is what I spend my free time doing, and this is what I want to make my career about.
So for now I’m going to start doing traveling occupational therapy to have a bit more freedom to explore the world and take time off in-between contracts if I so choose. And I’m going to start getting certified in more holistic OT practices, more preventive care methods that I’m really passionate about, so that I can show people that self-care and stress management are, in my opinion, the most important occupations of daily life there are.
I am grateful for my first job and for patients such as the one mentioned for showing me how short life really is, and what a life well lived means to me. People may say I have my head in the clouds but I have a lot of dreams and a lot of ideas ready to burst from my heart at any moment. As scary as it may be, I’m going to seize those ideas and bring them back into my bloodstream, get in tune with my soul desires.
As I embark on this new chapter, join me in asking yourself, what fills your heart with joy? What is success to you? What drains you of life and what are some things you can do to change this? What would you do if you had a week to live? We have the power to create space in our lives and it’s okay to be selfish. We must take care of ourselves first before we’re able to help others.
Just some food for thought.