You know, I've tried to keep this blog pretty light-hearted and positive, to encourage people nervous about making the leap out of academia that it's doable and is a positive move.
But today's been a rough day, and it occurred to me that I should clarify that this process has not been easy. It's stressful, and anxiety-provoking, and I've had moments of self-doubt and guilt over leaving. There have been tears, and anger, and frustration. If you leave, you'll experience all of these things.
Today, I'm feeling unsure about whether I can correctly choose a new job I'll like (after all, I thought I'd like being an academic), whether I will be able to make enough money at a new job (nevermind that grad school salaries are insanely low), or whether anyone will even hire me for a job outside academia (which is, of course, something that will definitely come true if I don't keep applying for things). It's not been my best day. I'm frustrated, kind of sad and nervous, and feeling semi-paralyzed by doubt.
But I still don't regret deciding to leave. Every single time I contemplate what it would feel like to be still working on my research or prepping a new class or scrambling around looking for funding, I am more and more convinced that I'm making the right decision. I have a "good enough for now" job, and the next step is to find my next "good enough for now" job.
But the important thing is that I'm leaving a job that I hate. Changing jobs and trying something new - or putting yourself out there for others' evaluation - is always scary and difficult. But trying to do something else is always better than continuing along with something that makes you utterly miserable.
That's what I have to keep in mind. And if you're going through this type of situation, this is something you should keep in mind as well. Change is never easy. But sometimes it's necessary.