What The Great Resignation Means For The Future Of Mental Health

man riding big wave
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It’s been exactly one year since I quit my job.

*Metaphor alert:*

Back then, I didn’t realize that I was paddling out to sea on a longboard, headed toward giant waves that rose from the water like moving mountains.

Mind you, I had no prior surfing experience. And yet, I was like Garrett McNamara, the celebrated pro surfer who was constantly searching for that perfect, 100-foot wave to ride in all of its deadly glory.

I feel like I’m riding that mammoth wave now.

*End metaphor.*

It’s called “The Great Resignation”: a movement sparked by job burnouts who are quitting in droves, relinquishing job security, benefits, and a steady paycheck in search of something greater:

Happiness… at long last.

man jumping clicking heels

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

Scrolling through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram these days, hashtags like #mentalhealthmatters and #mentalhealthawareness are commonplace.

They accessorize blogs and articles about professional strays who have had enough of their jobs.

I’m talking about the visual artist who somehow ended up in the cutthroat world of finance and the corporate attorney who knows damn well he should be dancing for the Alvin Ailey company.

There’s also a trending global focus on the stigma of mental health, courtesy of star athletes Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles who have stepped away from high-stakes competitions and have spoken up in favor of mental health.

And guess what, dear reader? Numbers are speaking volumes, too.

According to a report by the U.S. Labor Department, approximately 4 million workers have quit their jobs in April of this year. The same report mentions an additional 41% of workers who are on the fence:

Should these job burnouts settle for unfulfilling work because it provides them with job security?

Or should they take a leap of faith into the unknown and reinvent themselves professionally?

At the risk of sounding like a total snob, I know the best answer.

At heart, everyone knows the best answer.

So the profound questions become:

A) What will it take to keep your job?

And B) What will it take to quit it?

sorry we are now closed sign

RIDING THE GREAT RESIGNATION WAVE

Since quitting my full-time job, I’ve joined a few freelance websites. One of them is Upwork.

In a recent study, Upwork found that 36% of the U.S. workforce did some kind of freelancing in 2020 and that the number of freelancers in the U.S. has increased by nearly 2 million since 2019.

Now, I’m not a numbers guy. I prefer to discuss Jane Austen novels with other voracious readers while reclining on a red-and-white checkerboard blanket at a picnic in the park.

In this daydream scenario, we’d swoon over Mr. Darcy and pretend that we’re Victorian ladies whose souls were trapped in the bodies of mere mortals.

But I digress.

My point was/is: numbers are speaking volumes on the issue of mental health awareness and the stigma attached to it.

Perhaps one of the best indicators of a paradigm shift in the wellness department is the fact that the keyword “mental health” is now searchable on Google’s Keyword Planner.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered the phrase “mental health” in Google Ad’s keyword search tool during the pandemic only to have the ole G discard my search query and ask me for a better, “searchable” one.

(To those of you who aren’t familiar with SEO practices, I should explain that when you’re running a weekly wellness blog like yours truly, keywords and phrases related to mental health, especially popular ones on Google Search, are muy bueno for business.)

To be clear, I didn’t start this blog because of COVID.

The pandemic coincided with my epiphany that what I was doing for a living, which was managing a luxury property in Hollywood when I was supposed to be writing the Next Great American Novel, sucked harder than a newborn calf sucking ravenously on Momma Cow’s teats.

So I did something: I quit my job.

I abandoned the comforts of job security and plunged into a precipice of uncertainty. I did that despite an underlying sensation ripe with failure that the safety net I had imagined would catch my fall was far from circus-grade: I’d rip right through it.

But once I realized that this was a fear-based emotion, I threw caution to the wind.

I joined the Great Resignation before it was even a thing. It was like I had submitted an early admission application to a university of job burnouts, hopeless romantics, and everyone else who defied their sense of “purpose.” 

I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t know what I’m doing. But by god, I’d rather be doing this.

hands floating over crystal ball

THE FUTURE OF MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS

If I were a cartoon character, I’d be Felix the Cat.

For all you Gen Z’ers who have no idea what I’m talking about, Felix the Cat was an adorable black-and-white cartoon character (later drawn in color) who charmed the world back in the 1920s, and then in the 80s and 90s thanks to broadcast syndication.

After devouring countless episodes of Felix’s latest misadventures when I was a kid, I have since immortalized my dearest cat with a sweater that I acquired from Amsterdam fashion house, Scotch & Soda.

The proof is in the pudding:

writer in desert garden tire planters joshua tree

(Sidenote: I also own a “Felix the Cat” enamel mug that will never see the dark interiors of a dishwasher lest it cause the print on the mug to fade after each rinse.)

Anyhoo, Felix had this magic bag of tricks. It was a bright yellow clutch handbag like the kind doctors carry their stethoscopes in, and it had these black X’s and O’s printed all over it.

When Felix reached inside his magic bag of tricks, he produced whatever he needed to overcome the challenges and obstacles he was faced with.

“Magic bag, do your stuff,” Felix said.

Those who know me well have come to realize that I, too, own a bag of tricks, so to speak.

My blue Timbuk2 bag with numerous front pockets and red zippers contains, among other things, a mini pharmacy packed with eye drops, hand wipes, bandaids, and a bottle opener (because you must always be prepared.)

And even though no one could prepare me for this spiraling vortex called “freelancing,” I remain a veritable “walking Duane Reade” an analogy that I’m sure my New York friends will appreciate.

If I could produce a crystal ball from my handy-dandy Timbuk2 bag and look into the future, I’m willing to bet that the issue of mental health at the workplace, and the stigma attached to it, won’t be wiping out on this giant resignation wave that job quitters like me (and possibly you?) have made manifest.

On the contrary, the spotlight on mental health shines stronger than ever. And that’s a good thing.

Because prioritizing mental health by practicing mindfulness and self-awareness is the key to being delightful.

And that, dear reader, is what QWERTYdelight is all about.

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Catherine Ferrier
Catherine Ferrier
10 months ago

Love this article

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