Issue 075 | how i really felt when i quit my job
Dear Cosmos Community,
I quit my job the day after Independence Day. I liked the symbolism, and I liked the idea of leaving when no one was around. But when I got to the office, the emptiness was anti-climatic, even a little sad. I hadn’t wanted a going away party, but I did, selfishly, want to be missed. I was the one leaving. That was supposed to feel powerful.
I handed my laptop over. “I tried to restore it to its original condition”, I joked lamely to the IT team. “Don’t worry — we’ll delete everything”. I wasn’t reassured as much as I was disturbed. How easily I would be removed from this place, this life, despite giving it four years of my time. My heart. My belief. My fucking everything.
I wasn’t resentful; I was old enough to know these security procedures were standard. I wasn’t emotional; I had prepared for this day, had willed it into existence over the last two years. I puttered around the office for another thirty minutes, staring forlornly into my favorite meeting rooms, grabbing one more heaping of snacks, rearranging the pens in my cupholder before depositing them all back in the supplies closet. I paced, waiting for someone to recognize me, someone to care, but I started to feel desperate, nearing pathetic. It was time to go.
I handed my ID badge over in the lobby. It was 2 PM the day after Independence Day, but today, today was my day of independence. I thought my day of independence would redeem everything it took to get here — the gaslighting, the politicking, the posturing. But the world outside was just a bigger version of the office. I didn’t know that then, but I suspected it, and it was that suspicion that I carried with me out the door, weighing on me even though my backpack was empty.
I had worked so hard to be free. But from what? I was still me, still paying too much for rent in San Francisco, still reckoning with the privilege of being able to contemplate freedom, still stuck in a system that I felt less and less ability to change. I still had to make money. I still had to be productive. That didn’t change then, and it hasn’t changed now.
Two weeks later, I made my obligatory “I quit my job!” social media post. It’s a photo of me in a thrifted Givenchy orange blazer, my head angled towards the light, my hair pulled back in a loose bund. I’m smiling and I look radiant. It was my most popular post of the year, people celebrating me in the comments, and that was enough to make me believe that I was that girl in the photo. I wanted to be her so badly.
Quitting my job was one of the best things I could’ve done for myself at the time, and I had the means to do it. I had this enormous privilege, and I used it. I have no regrets, but I did have feelings that I didn’t know how to talk about, and as you can see, still struggle to express today. We’re in the midst of The Great Resignation, but resigning from employment is not the same as resigning from a system that still works in the favor of the well employed. If I had known that when I quit, I would’ve posted a different photo, one that would’ve gotten significantly fewer likes, but would’ve been honest to the part of me that suspected that the wheels of capitalism would roll along, with or without me.
If you’ve quit your job recently, or are thinking about it, please don’t let this letter discourage you!! I write this letter because I wish someone had told me it was okay to have these feelings, the ones that still guide me today in questioning whether I am complicit in capitalism, or trying to challenge it.
Karen, Co-Founder of The Cosmos, not as moody as she seems in writing!
Emerging Writers and Poets: are you up for sharing your work with fellow Asian women at a Community Reading this winter?
Your stories matter, and I’m committed to creating more ways for you to feel that’s true. Writers I and S from the Fall Book Swap inspired me to organize a Community Reading, a public event where community members read their completed or work-in-progress stories and poetry aloud! I am tired of publishing being a gatekeeper to your stories!!! I
I want to open up the opportunity to more emerging writers in more cities. Sign up at the button below, and if there’s interest, I’ll make it happen in your city :)
thanks to everyone who came out to the Fall Community Book Swap + Potluck this weekend, and special thanks to Ina for organizing!! Y’all bring the best snacks!!
Cosmos Book Club: Writing & Publishing with Larissa Pham, author of Pop Song (Free!)
Thurs Nov 18 | 4 PM ET | Zoom
A special event for emerging writers!! The Cosmos Book Club is sitting down with Vietnamese-American writer and author Larissa Pham to chat about how she wrote and published her first book in her twenties! Come for a very personal and transparent conversation where you can ask about navigating the publishing industry, putting a non-fiction book proposal together, and the writing process.
Nilaga is a Filipino soup of “slow-braised beef shanks, bone marrow and earthy vegetables”, and it’s one of the perfect-for-fall recipes in chef Angela Dimayuga’s new cookbook, Filipinx: Heritage Recipes from the Diaspora, which she wrote with Ligaya Mishan, the writer behind one of my favorite articles of the year, “The Asian Pop Stars Center Stage”.
Yes the cookbook is backordered, and no I do not know when it’ll be back in stock!!
Photo Credit: Flora Hanitijo, The New York Times Magazine
I am very excited for author Stephanie Foo’s forthcoming memoir, What My Bones Know, which chronicles her journey caring for complex PTSD. I don’t want to say this is a memoir about “healing” because I think that’s what Foo questions — the idea that one day trauma just packs up and leaves, never to be seen again. I started my mental health journey thinking this was the case, and I’d be upset at myself whenever I felt the destination was out of reach, or as I described in therapy a few weeks ago, “I’m moving too slowly!” I love that Foo makes the case for living with your mental health condition, but not letting that determine who you can be.
pen15 (streaming on Hulu) is hilarious and heart-warming and I guarantee this trailer for part two of season two will make you laugh. You deserve it!!
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