My job was a coveted position and a rare opportunity for students in my program. It was part-time, it allowed me to learn from other professionals in my field, it gave me an opportunity to do what I felt called to do, and it provided my family with some extra income. I got along well with my coworkers and my boss loved me.
Yet every night before work my heart would beat faster and I would feel jittery and irritated. I slept poorly. By the next morning my stomach would feel queasy and my hands would shake. I had a hard time keeping food down. As I drove up Prescott Street, I would do breathing exercises to calm my body. I would end my commute by praying that in that day’s work I would learn something new and do some good. Maybe confidence in my ability to do my job would soothe my physical disquiet.
I did learn a lot and I did do some good. There were very difficult days and there were days that felt rewarding. I liked the work I did overall and still felt strongly about being in my field, but there was something about the job that didn’t sit right with me. I chalked it up to an anxious personality and told myself if I just stayed there it would get better.
After ten months of dreading every workday, I entertained the idea of quitting. The notion seemed absurd at first. Why would I quit something that was such a great opportunity, that other people wanted so much, that I hadn’t even been doing for a year? I sat with the idea for some time and finally decided it was the right thing to do; my job was actually hurting me. As soon as I allowed myself to accept this, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.
The quitting process went very smoothly. My superiors were positive about my work and assured me I was welcome back at any time. I agreed to stay on another couple of months until they found someone to replace me and I could help with the training. Those last months, my stomach felt less sick as I drove to work, I felt steadier.
A few months after I stopped working, my husband and I were in the car running errands. All of a sudden I felt shaky and anxious and sick to my stomach. While he ran into a shop I stayed in the car, trying to figure out what my problem was. Then it hit me that we were on Prescott Street and had driven most of the same route that I used to take to work. As soon as I named this as the cause, my body relaxed; my stomach unclenched, my hands steadied and I almost laughed out loud.
My body had known long before I had that my place of work was not right for me. I hadn’t given it enough credit to listen.