Thursday, August 27th, 2015 is when I walked away. I walked away from my career, my job, my steady form of income; to what? To nothing. No plans, but a break.
Two weeks prior I had walked into my big bosses office (yeah the BIG boss, not my regular boss, but the big boss that hired me, yup that one) and told him of my plans of not coming into work after 2 weeks. It was mid-August on a Thursday (I made sure I gave them their 2-weeks notice that is standard in corporate America), and told him, I am quitting, I need time for myself, I need to figure my life out…and hey you never know…maybe in December I might come in again and ask for a job, because right now I have no plan, but to get out!
I had reached a point in my life (after 7.5 years of the corporate engineering world) where all I knew was that I wanted OUT. It was interesting to see different people’s reactions to my decision. My parents of course weren’t too happy…but they still allowed me to make it (take note parents . . . or future parents!). My siblings reaction was kinda like, “okay, let’s see what happens after 3-4 months with Amaney.” My extended family, were kinda like, “O.K.” You know that weird, one eye-brow up, “O.K.”, yup, that one. My friends, they were supportive. My co-workers, they were supportive, but couldn’t understand. How can I NOT have a plan? How will I survive? But Allah (swt) has and always will be Al-Razaq (the One that Provides), right? Or do we secretly rely on our jobs and careers to provide for us?
June 2018 I had just received the news that I passed my PE, a great milestone in any engineers career (more on the feeling of failure when I did not pass the first time I sat for the test, in another post!). But it didn’t matter as much because I had already made the decision I was going to leave the company (another reason people thought I was crazy!).
Fast forward a few months after making my decision to leave, I knew I had made the right decision. How? I did not regret it one bit. Not one day did I wake up and say, man, I miss going into the office and working on those projects. The people, the insider jokes of engineers (as geeky as they were) were cute and fun, so yes I missed that. But the actual work and the projects, nope not for one-minute.
Fast forward two years after making the decision, I realized I was a good engineer (I mean I was able to keep the job for years, right?). I was living an “okay” life. Is that enough tho? I mean I would go out for dinner with friends about once a week, always kept my weekends full with either outings with friends or family, and then showed up to work again on Monday morning. Isn’t that enough? I mean I had a good paycheck coming in every two weeks.
How do I know that a good paycheck is not enough? That a panned out career is not enough? Because I took the other crazy decision in my life to work for a non-profit (who leaves a job in corporate to work in a non-profit, right?). And I could not have been happier, Alhamdulillah. It’s been 10 months, and when I compare my first 10 months in the engineering world and the non-profit world, two completely different experiences! Half the time I forget that this is work. That helping people and planning events that bring resources to people is work. That work can be fun (most of the time!), that work can entail going to the masjid to pray, to having meetings to discuss big ideas on how to bring programs to communities in need.
Now, on my third anniversary of making my decision, it has all come clear to me (it came clear to me a few months ago, but that’s okay, we’ll make believe it became clear to me now). I can be “good” at a lot of things in life, at math, at reading, writing, speaking, organizing, etc. Do I have to go work for the highest paid position? Or do I pursue a career in something that I am passionate about? Something I am good at, but I also absolutely love doing!?
I’d like to quickly address any parents that may be reading this. I understand and respect that you want the best for your child, that you may see their strengths better than they do, but please understand, that your child would be their best self, when they are working in a field that they love. So please allow them the leeway to explore the career that would make them happy.
For the students that may be reading this, don’t ever forget, this is your life. You bear the fruits of your decisions and the consequences of it as well. Nobody can make you do anything, you always allow them to make decisions on your behalf. Take responsibility for your actions and your life’s decision. After all you will be the one that will be living it, no one else.
Final thoughts, I regret no decisions I have made. Alhamdulillah I am in a place where I believe everything that has come, was what was the absolute best for me at that time, and what is yet to come will be what is best for me at that time. If you continuously ask of the Most Merciful, then be firm that the Most Merciful has always been giving you that which is best for you!