Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Quit

Writing this web blog that no one reads over the last few years has been a kind of therapy for me. At times I have whined about things that bothered me, written about things I liked or just whatever popped into my head. Today I am just writing about a major change in my life in an effort to sort out what I want to do.

I quit my job about 5 weeks ago. I had been with the company for 14 years and I just couldn't handle it anymore. To be honest I was forced out. I have been searching the internet lately for articles by people who did the same thing and for the most part the only thing I find are advice columns about how to quit your job properly. Well I didn't do that. I left, I didn't do it smartly, I have a family to support and no job prospects as of yet.

I'm not totally screwed. I don't have very many expenses. My wife has a job and we have enough savings to survive for a while if I don't find anything. I am not ashamed that I quit. I am a hard worker, my history shows that. I worked my way through college working nights. My first job was when I was 14 years old working for a farmer making hay. I worked all through highschool working at restaurants, construction, and farm work. In college I delivered pizza, worked for UPS loading trucks, worked security and worked in a police station.

I put everything I had into the job I just quit. I worked weekends, vacation days. I put in long hours and ignored my family. My health was affected. I was afraid to leave my job and go somewhere else. My skills were out of date and I did not think I could get a similar paying job once I left. I was a software developer but in reality I had become an overpaid support person who did some development. Out of fear I kept pushing at the same company long after I should have moved on to something else.

Finally I reached a point this year where no matter how hard I worked it was not enough. Conflicts with a manager came to a head and finally about a month ago I came home one night and realized I could not go on. My blood pressure was a constant 145 over 100 I couldn't sleep, I couldn't make the simplest decisions. I talked to my wife about it and the next day I went in and handed in my resignation.

Looking back I know that all along I should have left a long time ago but I never had he courage to do it until there was no choice. I think if I would have stayed it might have killed me. It was especially hard to quit given what my own father went through. He died when I was 15 after a 7 year battle with a disease caused by a chemical he was exposed to while working in a factory. For 6 of those 7 years he managed to drag himself to work through unimaginable pain and suffering and here was I quitting due to some emotional stress. My father worked two jobs, one at a factory and one at a youth prison. After he got sick he was fired from his full time job at the factory and continued to work at the prison. It was a minimum security prison and fortunately they allowed him to work even when he could hardly walk anymore.

Maybe my father would have done the same thing. Its hard to say. My job had become a torture in which each week I had to endure being constantly berated and threatened with losing my job. I was not the perfect employee but it was not for lack of trying. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, there were better programmers than me but I always gave it my best effort. That said I was not the worst either. Maybe my fathers job was his escape from the pain he had where mine was the cause of my pain. Maybe under the same conditions he would have done the same thing. Unfortunately I can't ask him that question.

So I quit my job. I haven't found a new job yet. I have looked but not as hard as I should. To be honest I don't know if I am more afraid of not finding a job or finding a job like what I had. When I think about going back into software development I break out in hives. First of all, getting hired in software development usually involves some lying about what your skills are. Then if you are lucky enough to get the job there is a scramble to keep your new employer from figuring out that you don't have the skills you claimed you did. A large part of software development is acting like you are the smartest person in the room even when you aren't. I have watched people with modest skills and knowledge take on the largest projects simply because they are not afraid to and they are able to convince others that they know what they are doing even if they don't. Success in programming is largely a confidence, an attitude, a willingness to go out there and fake it even when you don't know what you are doing. I don't have this. If I was cut out for this role, I would feel it, I would have a passion that would drive me. I don't.

I think that eventually I will end up in some technical support role that is not development. Or I will make it as a writer. I have been trying my had at writing short stories. I am planning on trying to get published. If I can't do writing as a profession I will do it as a hobby. I would be happy working a job for half the money I was making if I could be confident about my abilities and go home at the end of the day and not think about it.

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