I arrived to my new job as a volunteer so excited to make a difference. After being oriented to the expectations of the program, I got to work. I was making copies of papers and putting them into folders. I was making phone calls to confirm appointments. I made more copies. I stapled them together in packets. Again and again and again, the cycle repeated itself. I was a secretary…and this was not the job I signed up to do. I wanted to do life-changing work, or at least learn how it was done, but that’s not what this was. After talking with some of the volunteers who had worked with the organization for several years, they confirmed that this work was pretty much what we did day in and day out. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a secretary, I have done it before, but that was the problem. I had done it before. I wasn’t being paid for my time and I wasn’t adding a new experience or skill set to my resume, so what was I doing there? After one week, I quit.
Then, I got an on campus job, but the paperwork took about a month to complete, so I quit that, too. It sounds bad, I know. We don’t often flaunt when we quit something because quitting isn’t admirable. We are socially coached to not only hide when we quit one of our obligations, but also to feel guilty when we do so. But what if that obligation is just not worth our time? Should we be expected to stay? I say “absolutely not.”
My time is valuable, and the last time I checked not only is it limited, it’s also not guaranteed. I don’t want to spend my life doing jobs just because I’m afraid to quit. I know myself better than anyone and that means if I quit, I feel confident in my ability to find a new job. Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, while I don’t agree with it entirely, ultimately makes the point that women need to lean in and advocate for themselves. In the case of time, advocating for our time and ourselves applies to everyone.
We cannot afford to be afraid of the noses that turn down at us when we quit something. If you truly do not like it, why waste your time on it? There is a difference, though, in quitting because you don’t want to put the work in and quitting because you don’t have the passion for it or because you’ve surpassed that stepping stone and it’s time for a new challenge. I quit my job as a volunteer because I needed a challenge. I needed a job that would teach me something about myself or give me a skill that I have yet to acquire. But I know how to answer phones with a professional, office manner. I know how to organize files, and I know how to make copies and make them into packets. I don’t expect to change the world with one summer internship, but I do expect that when I spend my time working or involved in an organization, I will be using my time to its fullest extent.
Since quitting those two jobs, I have since started working at one of my old jobs, limited processing of paperwork involved, and I have been offered an opportunity to work in one of my professor’s labs. I am so much more focused on my schoolwork and my grades are great. I quit those two jobs, and since then things have been going better for me than they ever have before. I will continue to advocate for my time because my success depends on it. I am a quitter, and I am proud of it.