Hello! Just wanted to put it here that I’m officially unemployed!
It’s still hard to believe that it has been three weeks since I signed off work. There was a brief moment of panic when I handed over my work laptop and access card (from that little voice at the back of my head that always accompanies my self-doubt screaming “You’ve made a terrible mistake!!!”) – but then the relief kicked in and I felt… free. Whatever the future holds, this is the stage of life that I’m in at this point, and I’ll face whatever comes next, when it comes.
Of course, this decision did not come lightly, but after weighing, double weighing, and triple weighing the pros and cons, I felt it was necessary to take time to rest and recover.
I haven’t always shared my thoughts in this blog, but people close to me know that I’ve been spiraling towards burnout for close to three years now. It started during the pandemic, when my ex-employer downsized their Malaysian operations. The move saw my boss and editor being let go, and eventually, left me as the last employee standing from a team of 12.
While I regularly communicated with my editorial colleagues in Singapore, it was still a difficult and isolating time. Having to come up with ways to help boost the business and readership – despite travel being banned in many countries at the time – also placed everyone under immense stress.
An opportunity came at the end of 2021 when I was headhunted to join a B2B marketing agency, serving mostly US-based clients. I hopped into my new job almost immediately, with just a week’s break in between. Things were challenging at first as I had no experience in B2B writing, having been a journalist throughout my career, but the perseverance paid off. I was learning about digital marketing, polishing my business and technical writing skills – and I settled into the routine of my new job at a comfortable pace, at least for the first half of the year.
But as things progressed and started piling up, there were more late nights, missed family get-togethers, cancelled meetups due to sudden client requests.
I’ve worked in startups and I know how agencies operate– but at the breakneck speed my (now ex) company expected its employees to learn and grow, coupled with the mental fatigue I accumulated over the last couple of years (which I never had time to address) – it finally culminated in a full-blown meltdown at the office during my one-year assessment meeting. And I mean the full Monty: literal bawling in front of my department head, my senior, as well as a young and terrified-looking HR staff who was probably there just for formality and now had to deal with my unexpected waterworks lol.
The sudden outburst probably surprised my colleagues as well – the meeting was, in fact, to offer me a raise (so I guess I was doing a good job; gotta pat myself on the back sometimes coz I don’t do it enough lol).
As someone who is reserved and outwardly stoic, many people get the impression that “Eris is a strong, independent person”, because most of the time I get shit done without asking for help, so they think I’m ‘efficient’ and ‘reliable’ (these are two of the most common traits that have popped up in assessments throughout my time in the workforce, across multiple companies.)
The truth is, the anxiety levels that I go through each time to make sure things go perfectly are through the roof. I get so anxious about writing a whitepaper and meeting a last minute deadline that I literally LOSE SLEEP over it lmao. Like I would not be able to rest until I complete it. To my exacting standards.
I think that if I had talked to my seniors earlier about how the workload was creeping up on me, the whole thing might have gone down differently. But me being me, I tried to carry everything on my own (trauma from childhood because I could never turn to my family for support – they had their own demons to wrestle with and I was basically told to suck up my emotions and deal with my problems myself). By the time I realized I couldn’t, it had gotten to the point of no return. And so here we are lol.
Don’t get me wrong though. I enjoyed my time there, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities to learn that were afforded to me. No work places is perfect, and my ex company had areas of improvement it could do with – but it comes from the heart when I say I appreciate the guidance and support I received during my tenure. What I’ll miss the most is the people; some of my (ex) colleagues I now call friends.
That’s the story behind it. But what have I been up to since resigning, you ask?
Well, for starters, I went on an 8-day roadtrip with N. We never had a honeymoon after getting married, since we couldn’t see each other for two years during the pandemic – so I felt like some couple time on a holiday was overdue. We took my 10-year-old Viva down the West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia, stopping in Pangkor before heading up to Penang where we spent most of the remainder of our trip. I had a very rough itinerary prepared but the trip was mostly laidback: after a decade of chasing deadlines and never really enjoying myself on a holiday without thinking about work, I finally got to slow down and appreciate the small things, and just live in each moment.
(*PS: The Viva had a crisis on the way back as it sprung multiple oil leaks in Ipoh. Thankfully we made it back in one piece)
Second week comprised of full on recuperation. No morning alarms. Slept in as much as I wanted. Ate whatever I wanted. Played Oblivion all day. Read books (I finally have time for my library of unread volumes!). Took time to work out.
I’m into my third week now which has been pretty laidback so far, peppered with a few assignments, as my ex-editor needed help writing some articles.
Now, now, I hear you going “whatever happened to rest and recovering? lol” , but hear me out. These are straightforward writing assignments; definitely not as intense as my work before. This is also going to sound funny but I find myself actually enjoying the craft again. For the longest time, work felt so much like work that there didn’t seem to be an ounce of soul in what I was writing – just robotic drivel that I churned out for the sake of hitting quota. So maybe all I needed was a change.
Of course, the money would be helpful in sustaining myself in the coming months, as I work towards getting myself into better shape (both physically and mentally). After all, most of us work until we turn 60 so why hurry to throw myself into the fray again when I have the opportunity to take a break and come back refreshed?
With that, here’s a list of stuff I want to do now that I have the time for it:
- Finish at least one new embroidery project, now that my pompholyx isn’t in flare-mode
- Workout regularly (HAHAHA we’ll see if I can stick to this)
- Read at least 2 books this month
- Sketch more
- Journal more
- Clear my desk (which currently looks like a war zone of papers, books, and knick knacks)
- Go for sewing classes (if budget allows).
How about you? Have you taken an adult gap year, or do you have plans to take one? Would love to hear your thoughts!
PS: Now that I’m unemployed, your support would mean more than ever! If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website via Patreon. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Or buy me a cup of coffee at paypal.com @erisgoesto. Thanks for stopping by!
2 thoughts on “Life Updates: Taking An Adult Gap Year at 32 !”
Gosh, I can totally relate in a way with all the burnout and asking for help part. Anyway, wishing you all the best and enjoy the freedom!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Ally! It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help if things feel overwhelming. It’s something I have to remind myself often; that there are people out there looking out for us and that we don’t have to carry all our burdens alone. I hope you’re doing well too!
LikeLiked by 1 person