As you might, or might not have, heard, I left my last job in May. It wasn’t an easy choice., but after thinking about it for a very long time, I realized I wasn’t happy where I was and needed a break. When I had to explain my “employment status” to people, I decided that the term self-funded sabbatical was the most appropriate. Looking back almost 5 months later, It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Why did I do it?
There were a few reasons why I decided to leave. The first one dealt with my mental well being. I wasn’t happy with my job. Previously, when I got home from work, I’d work on hobby projects, hang out with friends, or do a variety of other things. In this case, I had no energy or motivation to do much than watch movies, get dinner and go to sleep.
I understand this happens to everyone from time to time, so I tried to tough it out. Eventually I broke down and had one of the most unpleasant weekends I can remember. That’s when I decided to start talking about it with friends and family. I realized this was not normal, and that I should probably do something about it.
At the same time, I realized two things: I have other friends in similar situations and I am terrible at keeping in touch with friends. The first is a result, I think, of many of us trying to deal with things like these on our own and not talking about it, but that’s a rabbit hole I don’t want to go into right now. The second, on the other hand, is one I could do something about.
I’m extremely lucky to have met many wonderful friends in different places over the last decade. Unfortunately, we all have busy lives and eventually stop keeping in touch. Finding time where we are all free to chat or hang out can be tricky, so I decided to take my schedule out of the equation and start getting back in touch.
I didn’t have many plans before leaving the job. Some people were worried that I didn’t have a new job lined up, but after making sure I had enough savings for a bit, I was able to ease their concerns. The original plan right after leaving was to take a couple of months off, work on hobby projects at home to brush up on skills, then start looking for something new. As you might expect, I barely worked on any projects at all. Instead, I decided to focus on visiting friends and family instead.
I will likely write detailed posts about certain parts of the sabbatical someday, but here are some of the highlights:
- Gave a talk at the Computer History Museum for their Design_Code_Build program
- Went to the Bay Area Maker Faire, had a blast, and got to hang out with tons of friends
- My parents came to visit and we drove down to Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey
- Visited friends in Houston and Austin
- Visited friends in LA and got a tour of SpaceX!
- Gave away/sold a lot of my stuff (in preparation for moving to a smaller place)
- Went to Denver and Boulder with a friend (on a 2 day notice!) and had an awesome time
- (Insert various hikes, movies, lunches, and dinners with friends here)
- Surprised my mom in Miami for her birthday (And ran into one of my favorite high school teachers on the plane!)
- Moved out of old apartment
- Spent an unexpected day in Dallas due to some medical problems on an airplane
- Visited friends in NYC
- Visited friends in Rochester
- Went to Niagara Falls to get my GlobalEntry access
- Visited friends in Boston
- Went to DEFCON and helped out with the DC DarkNet event
- Visited friends in Dublin, Ireland
- Visited friends in London, Leicester, and Brighton in the UK
- Finally made it to Almaty, Kazakhstan after telling friends I’d visit for years
- Spent a few days in Thailand on my own and made some new friends
- Stopped by Japan on the way back for nowhere nearly enough time
- Moved into new apartment
- Went to Calgary, Banff, and Jasper in Canada with a friend
Overall I had a fantastic time on my “sabbatical”. I was able to spend some much needed time to catch up with many (not all, unfortunately) friends, take time to think more about what I want to be doing, and flew around the world for the first time. I would have preferred this had happened under different circumstances, but I’m glad it happened either way. This Thursday I’ll be flying to Portland to attend the Open Hardware Summit and visit even more friends. It will be my last trip on this sabbatical before starting a new job. :D