It was around this time last year that my friends rode the Cercanías with me to Madrid’s airport. I was flying back to America. We spent our time drinking, playing cards and talking about the state of affairs in the United States – how none of us would have crossed each other’s paths had we not quit our jobs in search of life experiences. As different as we may have appeared, we all had one thing in common – out of our groups of friends, we were all somehow thought of as the adventurous one. I’d eventually found myself at the close of a vision I developed two and a half years prior to that moment.
Once the President gave the signal, my future Kenyon grads and I moved our tassels from right to left. As we filed out of the KAC to say our goodbyes, conversations often eluded to a need to be happy with our work-life balance. Almost as if being financially independent for the first time would bring with it a sense of happiness and accomplishment. My search for gainful employment landed me in Miami working as a computer technician for a medical center. While my living arrangements allowed for me to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, I felt as if there was more I could be doing with my time, effort, and education. There was little to fulfill me at work except for paydays and the occasional bonding coworkers do as they commiserate together.
Before I decided to quit my salaried job, there were moments in which even coworkers would question my presence in the workplace. Their curiosity was not malicious in any way. From the moment introductions were made, my coworkers quickly pegged me as someone who enjoyed a change in scenery. At lunchtime, when others would catch up on their novelas, I would be outside in the grass eating lunch while reading. People would walk past me with a look on their face as if I invented fire. My coworkers were right. I didn’t want to spend my youth staring at three beige walls, helping doctors get email on their iPhones, and they knew it. Like many of my peers, I cannot remember many moments when my parents enjoyed their work. They provided for their family while maintaining that doing what you love is the only cure for the Monday’s. Frustrated at the idea of settling for the sake of a paycheck, I envisioned myself somewhere different traveling as much as humanly possible.
With more information in our pockets than most had two decades prior, today’s workforce is likely the most informed about their options. Combined with the high-cost, low-reward that some degrees offer, the need to be fulfilled in the workforce is sometimes higher on the list than salary. My ideal opportunity came in the form of a teaching program sponsored by the Spanish government. Their commitment to becoming more competitive in a global economy starts and ends with education. Applicants are fairly compensated and encouraged to enjoy everything that Europe has to offer. Collectively, I was offered a sizeable stipend and an opportunity to use the degree that had been hung over the mantle in my mother’s house. The only thing left for me to do was turn in my two weeks’ notice.
The first thing I did when I walked into work was hand my bosses signed copies of my resignation. After months of tactical saving, planning, being beholden to meticulous deadlines and FBI background checks, the last thing on my to-do-list on was to finish work and pack. It seemed like everyone familiar with my nature knew the day I were to quit was approaching. Their only surprise was not knowing which day it would be or for what opportunity. Congratulations and well wishes filled the rest of my time at work, hours before I was set to begin my paid time off. The notion that a young black male could will into existence a life-changing event made the entire situation seem surreal. For what seemed like an eternity, I enjoyed two weeks of Wet Willie’s, Miami Beach and sunny weather before boarding a flight leading to a memory that would be remembered forever.
Absolutely none of this would have been possible had I resigned myself to accepting my previous work life. Countries like Spain, Martinique, Seoul, and Peru pay, relative to the cost-of-living, enough to travel often. As technology has made the world smaller, new skills are needed in foreign workplaces, and recent graduates with relatively no responsibilities are exhilarated to fill the need. While some decide to save money, others travel to enjoy the world and all of it has to offer. Immersing one’s self in a foreign culture will be an enriching life experiences. It all starts with one empowering sentence: “I Quit. Please accept this as my two weeks’ notice.”