Consider this my resignation letter

We’re not meant to pursue happiness, but meaning

Adrien Book

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Original photo by Hybrid

Valentina left to work for an NGO specialising in refugees’ rights. “I’ve realised there are more important things than my career”, she told me. Mathilde decided that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Benjamin moved to the south of France to join a wine start-up. In his goodbye email, he wrote that he’d always dreamt of having a garden and a dog.

My colleagues are not alone in reassessing their work lives. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic (albeit in fits and starts) many are thinking about their future. People laid off from service jobs are wondering whether to go back to them. Essential workers who carried us through the crisis might be considering less stressful careers. Entrepreneurs who got their start during lockdowns are doing cost-benefits analyses.

Me? I’m exactly where I started.

I should count myself lucky, I know. Nothing more infuriating that a straight white guy complaining that he kept his well-paying consulting job while society fell to pieces, right? Yet, here we are. As the Great Resignation happens all around me, I’ve been increasingly nudged towards rethinking the role of work in my life.

For years, I was happy in my little corporate microcosm, vigorously participating in the race to the bottom that is unbridled capitalism. My friend would buy a new bike, and I’d get a better one because I worked more hours and made more money. I’d take trips throughout the world, and be pleased when comparing my life to others’, who did not have the privileges my well-paying job granted me. I’d miss weddings and birthdays, but at least sent exceptional gifts. Every extra week-end worked was worth it, because I knew that it meant one more Michelin-starred restaurant or one extra day in Barcelona. All of which I would then post on Instagram, obviously. I was a wage slave with Stockholm Syndrome and, at the time, that was OK.

Then came lockdowns and shuttered office buildings. And all that was left was Zoom.

Diversion and entertainment were stripped down to their most basic forms, and it became difficult to spend more than the cost of a Netflix subscription or a few bad Robinhood trades to keep oneself occupied…

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Adrien Book

Strategy Consultant | Tech writer | Somewhat French