“For every moment you double down on something that’s not working out, you are forgoing other potentially valuable opportunities.”

I came across this quote in a New York Times article, “Sometimes You Have to Quit to Get Ahead” which resonated with me.

It is never easy to quit anything, be it a relationship, a job, or a habit. Sometimes we are so invested, including emotionally, in something that it seems impossible to walk away. Other times, the fear of the uncertain and unknown stops us from moving in a different direction.

I decided to leave my previous job last June even though I had nothing lined up. I was not in a dire situation or burnt out. Rather, I was stuck in a role where my expertise was underused and there was little room for me to grow. Some friends joked that it could be nice to earn a sizeable salary without having to do much. But that is not me. I thrive on learning new things, building complex projects, and being challenged.

In the past year since I quit, there were moments when I doubted my choice and even myself. But I do not regret my decision. 

I am incredibly thankful for all the support that I have had from AB, my family, and friends, near and far. For listening to me, sharing their experiences, flagging opportunities that might fit me, and helping me figure out what I want.

I was in Singapore for about half of the past 12 months. It has been refreshing and reassuring to discover and know that there is more to the “little red dot” than just working, eating, and shopping.

I spent plenty of quality time with my parents, more than we ever did when I used to live in Singapore. We went on walks where we rediscovered familiar neighbourhoods and explored new parks. We also shared many delicious home-cooked meals and long evening chats.

There were repeated visits to art institutions and photography spaces such as Gillman Barracks, Objectifs, DECK, The Arts House, and the National Gallery. I was surprised by some of the performances, talks, and film screenings that I attended. Why had I not known about this side of Singapore before? I wish more Singaporeans would put aside the misperception that art is atas (“exclusive” in Malay) and visit an exhibition or see a performance with an open mind.

I learned about the book publishing business thanks to a stint at Epigram Books and the friendly Ethos Books team. It was inspiring to speak with people who are championing Singaporean literature and to see how they are encouraging more people to read for leisure. I even read more than 60 books during this period.

To satisfy my curiosity about freelance journalism, I pitched and wrote a story on Myanmar puppetry for DestinAsian magazine. I also plucked up the courage to interview, in my unsteady Cantonese, people running small businesses in Hong Kong.

Then there were the wondrous winter months back in Europe spent admiring and being bewildered by contemporary art; browsing endless bookshops; drinking good, inexpensive wine; catching up with and making new friends; exploring new places such as Sicily and Lyon as well as uncovering more to familiar ones such as Brussels, Paris, and London.

While my bank statements do not show a growing balance in the past year, I feel mentally richer and got ahead in other areas that matter to me.

Photo taken by AB with the Milan metro map in the background.

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4 replies on “Quitting to discover new opportunities

  1. “I feel mentally richer and got ahead in other areas that matter to me.”

    this is a priceless feeling to have. Well done for having the courage to quit the rat race!

  2. Some people see “quitting,” other people see “starting,” or even “creating.” You definitely did the latter too, Angelina … congratulations!

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