Recently, I created a list of things I wanted to do: Go to my favorite cycling class at the gym. Finish all books sitting on my coffee table. Crack open my new cookbook for the first time. Volunteer at the library.
I’ve been between jobs for the last six weeks, so I’ve been taking advantage of the one thing that I have quite a bit of: time.
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One morning, between rolling out of bed at 5 am and giving myself a morning pep talk in the mirror, I realized that although my job paid the bills, it no longer excited or challenged me. So, I left. Looking back, I’m so thankful that I had the courage to let go. At the time it felt like the scariest thing I’d ever done. It also felt like the end of the world when I didn’t immediately find my dream job. In reality, it was the start of a new chapter of life that allowed me to discover the best version of myself.
Let me say up front that I’m not delusional and I don’t intend to sugarcoat my experience. There have been days where I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas and have cried while binge watching hours of Netflix. I’ve felt defeated when people ask, “Haven’t you gotten a job yet?” And, on more than one occasion, I have even considered going back to the job that left me feeling drained and uninspired. But, for every day that I felt like giving up, there have been even more days filled with joy.
Money may offer us security, but no amount of money can buy us time. It took leaving my job to realize how much I had been giving up, and that what I wanted most was time to do things that made me happy. In the past six weeks, I made my health a priority, took a vacation with my friends, enjoyed reading all those unfinished books, and yes, had the chance to catch up on my favorite TV shows, too. Best of all, I’ve learned a very important life lesson: Be patient with life and also with yourself.
I’m not saying that you should quit your job, but making a list of the things you want to be a priority in your life may help you become closer to being a truly fulfilled and happy person. I suggest, at the very least, making a balanced work-life relationship a priority, and taking a mental health day every now and then. Most of all, do not be afraid to become a risk taker and run full speed toward whatever you’re passionate about. You can always turn time into money, but not the other way around.
Letting myself enjoy the time I have been given has been a blessing I didn’t know I needed. Although I am lucky enough to have had the choice to leave my job, sometimes unemployment isn’t a choice, but rather an unavoidable circumstance. Losing your job is a struggle that not everyone will relate to, but don’t lose faith in yourself.
Unemployment may be a stressful situation, no one can argue with that, but it is in the face of stress that we grow and learn the most. This phase of my life will soon pass, and I know with confidence that when it does, I will be able to look back and be proud and thankful that I was able to turn a stressful situation into one of growth and self-improvement.
This article originally appeared on Darling Magazine and is reprinted with permission.