I’ve experienced multiple physiological changes since quitting my job two months ago; most of them positive, and most of them expected. I’m less stressed, better rested, fitter, and generally happier (everything you might expect from someone who’s been on vacation for two months).
However, a little change I didn’t expect to feel after quitting my job has been not in my head or my heart but in my feet.
Every morning when I put my feet on the ground, and sometimes during the day after a long period of sitting, I notice an ache at the tops of my arches and the pads of my feet. At first, I assumed it was my foot muscles getting used to the new work of grabbing on to flip-flops, which I began to wear constantly and enthusiastically at the start of summer. Then, once I quit my job and started long weeks of road tripping and multiple 10-mile hikes every week, I assumed that my feet were just tired from all the extra walking. But for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been bumming around at home, less active than when I was touring the national parks, doing plenty of sitting, lounging, lying around, and generally being lazy; yet I still feel my feet grumble for a few seconds after I get up.
I could be wrong about this, but I wonder if it’s my feet getting used to actually being walked on again.
This is the first time in six years that I haven’t spent most of my days sitting for 9-10 hours every day. I loved my last job (that’s part of what made it so hard to decide to go), but the best way for me to be productive and effective was to glue my butt to my office chair for as many hours at a time as I could manage. Maybe the reason my feet complain now is that they forgot what it feels like to be walked on at regular intervals – even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store, or walking up the stairs at the library, or moving across the patio as the sunlight shifts. Could it be that even the small amount of walking required to be an unemployed bum is more activity than I was getting as an office worker?
I don’t want to be too dramatic here. Maybe my feet are sore because I sold out to The Man (okay, my last employer was not The Man, but rather a well-run and compassionate organization – but you get my point) and now I’m breaking free of the system and my feet are learning how to walk again; or maybe I should just have invested in better-quality flip-flops.
Either way, the pain in my feet has made me think about the changes that have taken place in my life over the past two months. Noticing the benefits to my physical and mental well-being, including my hardening feet, has made me question whether working at a standard 9-5 company job (something neither of my parents do) was the right fit for me in the first place. I’m enjoying more positive changes than I thought I would, and many that I didn’t expect to feel nor realized were missing from my previous life. Now I’m questioning whether I would like to go back to that lifestyle with its upper-middle-class benefits (cushy salary, job security, amazing healthcare, 401k, flexible hours). Would I be happier in a job that might keep me in a lower tax bracket, but would ultimately prove healthier for my body and mind, involve more meaningful and creatively challenging work, and give me the opportunity to live out a less conventional lifestyle?
In short: were all the benefits of a cushy job worth forgetting how to walk? And what other things would I have eventually forgotten how to do, without realizing I was giving them up?
NB: I realize that this post, my feelings about leaving my job, and my decision to quit my job in general kind of put me in the Entitled Millenial 20-something camp. I welcome comments, criticism, and discussion on the motivations of the millenial generation, of which I guess I am one.