In September 2021, Evelyn Lai sat at the brown teak table in her childhood bedroom and looked out the window. She was feeling the same precariousness as she was two decades ago.
“I remember sitting at the same desk when I was applying to colleges,” said Lai, 36.
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Now she was recalculating her life. professional sense burn out She was left crying three months ago on a street in the city of Austin, Texas. It had been more than a year since the pandemic broke out on her holiday, which she had been spending with her mother and sister. Eventually she recovered from the panic attack.
Lai was working 50 hours per week as a pediatric nurse practitioner at a community health clinic in southeast Austin. Some of his patients at the clinic, which Lai said served primarily the Latino population, did not have clean water. Some had family members who were picked up by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. some lost loved ones covid, As Lai passed people drinking and laughing at a trendy Austin cocktail bar, she hit a breaking point. Her mother placed a hand around her, and she struggled to catch her breath.
“It was hard seeing this and then thinking about the world I’d be in back at work,” Lai said.
So she went home. after a thought career As a writer for pharmaceutical companies, she realized she was unprepared to see patients. Four months later, she started a job as a pediatric nurse practitioner at a hospital in Seattle with kinder colleagues and a less busy schedule. She now spends most of her free time in nature, walking along the local river banks and in the mountains.
For many of the more than 50 million people who left their jobs since the beginning of last year – a broad-scale event known as the “Great Resignation” – the change has represented a moment of great personal exploration. Finally provided a place to reflect on the most important things, some are now rethinking their work life balance. Some have made drastic changes, and others, like Lai, have discovered a new purpose in long-term goals.
“It took me a while to find this job, or, to find me for this job,” Lai said with a laugh.
Here are some stories from people who have reshaped their lives and careers and feel more fulfilled because of it.
‘I’d rather have a bunch of stuff in my basement’
On a sunny mid-June, 53-year-old Jim Walker sat by a riverside terrace beside a man who was old enough to be her father. As the boat sailed into Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, Walker recently recalled, the man headed to Naval Station Newport, where he and his wife had married 65 years earlier.
Walker, an ordained pastor who quit his job in June 2021 to become a tour guide, described the man on his wedding day. “Sometimes people don’t need to hear me speak,” Walker said. “They need an ear to share what’s on their heart.”
Walker began church work at the age of 24. But when his church in the Pittsburgh area temporarily closed in 2020, he moved his services online and he had some extra time to think. His happiest experience as a pastor, he realized, was when he led the congregation on mission trips and engaged in volunteer work. He wanted more freedom.
After long working on his desire to become an independent tour guide, he moved into a room in his brother’s house. Walker has spent much of the past year on the road, hosting tours in Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Hawaii and elsewhere.
“I now find myself interacting with all kinds of people around the world, and helping people connect with important things,” Walker said.
was it worth it? Walker feels that the transition has given him more opportunities to use the “gifts given to me.” He still uses the skill he has honed in the pulpit, but with a new congregation each week. “I have had to make sacrifices to do this,” he said. “But I’d rather have a bunch of stuff in my basement than have the freedom.”
‘I could understand how it would feel to be able to make my own choices’
For most of her adult life, Jennifer Padam followed a familiar script. On weekends she often attended spiritual retreats, and during the week she edited reality TV shows in a cramped, windowless room, dreaming about the outdoors.
One month ago Epidemic Hit, she quit her job as an archivist at Netflix and, along with her partner, agreed to visit a friend’s estate in the woods of New Hampton, New York. Then New York’s stay-at-home orders went into effect.
“Everything changed,” said 41-year-old Padam. “I could understand what it would feel like to be able to make my own choices.”
She said she started listening to plants on the property. Eventually, Padam and his partner buy the property, and they plan to convert it into a spiritual retreat center called Mystic Hill.
was it worth it? Mystic Hill is set to open in early 2023, Padam said, and will feature nature walks and yoga Meditation classes. Amidst the isolation of the early months of the pandemic, and away from the darkness of the studio, Padam found a way to connect with his deeper mission: “Showing people that the reality they see around them may not be the only reality. “
‘I Think I Found Utopia’
In high school, Marlon Zuniga spent time at his convenience store job flipping through tabloid magazines, mentally placing himself in pictures of vacation spots surrounded by turquoise water and white sand.
When the pandemic hit, Zuniga, 37, rarely left home. He entered corporate banking during busy hours as a business manager, and because he worked remotely, the line between work and free time It got blurry. His wife, 32-year-old Maria Kamboykos, who also worked in banking, felt the same irritation. So last spring they both quit their jobs, ended the lease on their West New York, New Jersey, apartment and adopted a nomadic lifestyle.
While the couple was traveling in Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and other countries, Zuniga and Kamboykos picked up on elements of the different cultures they planned to bring back to America.
was it worth it? “I think I found Utopia,” Zuniga said over the phone from a bar in Bilbao, Spain.
However, Zuniga and Kamboyakos’ sabbatical is about to end soon; They will settle in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they own an apartment, and reenter the workforce. But they say they will feel more empowered with how they structure their lives, and with a greater diversity of perspectives.
‘I had changed’
Daniel Radell Became a Therapist Because He Wanted to Help LGBTQ Young people make sense of the world. He saw his younger self in the college students he met. But as the pandemic progressed, and his clients’ mental health issues intensified, 31-year-old Radel himself became anxious and depressed. He woke up with a sense of dread and began to limit his food intake.
Referring to Universal Commercial Airline’s directive to parents in the event of loss of cabin pressure, Rydell said, “I felt like I couldn’t put on my own oxygen mask.” “I couldn’t help others with them.”
Radell quit her job at the University of Colorado Boulder and opened a small private practice to help her husband pay the bills. But he also took time to look inside himself. Radell entered his long-dormant artistic side and enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program. He also re-imagined his physical appearance :He bleached His hair grew, his nails grew and he got dressed. Eventually that came out as non-binary. (Redel uses the pronoun he/they.)
“I never had, like, a year, to nurture that artistic self,” Radell said. “Parts of my identity that were more secret were expressed. I was transformed.”
He eventually returned to an academic setting, taking a job as a clinical psychologist at Yale University, where he integrates the arts into his practice: Radell allows students to bring pen and paper to doodle during therapy sessions and Encourages you to try dripping water. Their skin at home as a way to connect with their bodies.
was it worth it? Having gone through a personal transformation of her own, Rydell feels more equipped to help students. He has also enrolled in a philosophy doctoral program at the University of San Diego that focuses on education and social justice, which he believes will boost his practice even further. These days, Radel’s oxygen mask fits just fine.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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