Last week was the last day of work at a big game development studio where I've been working the past 3 years. It was difficult finally arriving at the conclusion that I needed to quit, but definitely something that needed to be done.
The day after saying goodbye to everyone was really strange, (SO MANY FEELS!!), and here's a recount of how my mind was processing it all . . .
Feeling an onslaught of emotions.
I think one word to describe my state right now is... Raw.
My heart aches thinking about my now ex-co-workers, the people who were my second family. I loved working with them and had an incredible number of amazing journies with them. I feel so appreciated and thankful that all these people accepted me with open arms. I just could not appreciate any of it near as much as it deserved until I stepped out of it. I'm so freaking happy. I made the greatest friends on the whole planet!!!!
And I'm so, so sad to be leaving them...
I know these people are a rarity and ill never find anyone quite like them again...
But damn... One thing I feel a lot of is free. Like I can breathe for the first time in who knows how long! I didn't even realize I was suffocating, creatively. I haven't animated for myself in years and I didn't think I'd ever want to again, but cutting myself loose from work made me want to actually make art again. It only took half a day of being unemployed for the feelings of excitement to come rushing in! Its like this heavy weight that had been sitting on me for a good year or so has been lifted.
I'm shocked. I can't even believe it. I feel like I'm on top of the world!! I took a leap of faith, and it feels like I sprouted wings and started flying away.
I. Feel. Good.
Like a genie freed from a lamp.
Like I can conquer the world!!!
(Ok sorry, I know I'm getting arrogant now)
I was saddened by who I was becoming, jaded and bitter about everything, and I thought my old self was lost forever. I figured maybe this is what getting older means, changing and numbing yourself to the world. I thought back to the times when I was so full of energy and optimistic about everything... what happened to that person?! I was feeling depressed and so, very lost. I didn't know what I wanted and I didn't have a purpose. I wrote notes to myself to "distance yourself from work -- treat it like a job and nothing more" in an attempt to make every day less painful. I should have known that wasn't the way to solve it... I'm not good at giving less than my all, and that probably escalated my feelings of burnout.
It's so crazy how difficult it is to understand our own feelings. I knew something was off... But I couldn't figure out what or why. I was feeling burnt out even after lots of time off. I took a month off of work to take a yoga teacher training, and broke down SOBBING multiple times. I was having such a fantastic time, why was I crying?? Was I not being true to myself to a point it was destroying me? Was I afraid I had been traveling on the wrong career path? Was I crying because I was SO HAPPY to not be at work? I felt broken. My inner self was desperately trying to tell me something.
It hit me that I needed to leave my current job. I didn't want to see myself get worse and worse.
I spent a few months journaling and writing down my thoughts, how I should approach the next steps and find myself again. Did I even want to animate anymore? What other careers could I even pursue? Photography? Yoga? Join the circus? Give up and be a stay-at-home dog mom?? (That one sounded very enticing.)
I spent some time looking at all my animations as a whole, and little projects I did on the side. I thought my work was decent, and it would be such a shame to give it up after coming so far. I wanted to love doing it again!!! But there was something in the way. And oddly enough, I think it was my job.
I'm still unsure why I felt like I was suffocating at work. Maybe it was the disorganized management, or the studio pushing values that I didn't believe in, or the fact that it is such a big studio and so change happens too slowly, or maybe it was the product itself I didn't really like.
After leaving, suddenly I feel so proud and excited to be an animator!! Creative people are so complicated... I don't know why I couldn't feel this way at work.
I learned so, so much and it was truly a dream job, at least for a little while.
I know all my problems are so ridiculously 'first world', and many people just struggle to survive, so I feel a bit guilty for complaining at all. The industry I decided to pursue is so competitive and some people try and try and never even get their foot in the door... But maybe this sort of story speaks to others and helps someone else take a chance on something greater for themselves?
I'm happy I made the difficult decision to leave, even though I have nothing planned exactly on what to do next. I'm very lucky to have a partner in crime who I can support me a little bit while I figure it out.
I guess the moral of the story is...
Make sure to always be true to yourself and follow your dreams!
Doesn't matter what it is or how unreasonable. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. Don't give up and remember you are never too old to dream!
Thanks for reading.
Sophie is a video game developer who has a variety of passions including yoga, traveling, and photography.