Right before the big promotion and the coveted bonus, I left my well paying, 'stable', and comfortable corporate job with no prospect in hand, and no clear idea in mind.
In other words, I took a sabbatical.
And while sabbatical was a foreign concept to most, especially all my distant relatives, I still consider it as one of my finest decisions ever.
There is no right age to take a sabbatical, but it is especially shocking to take one in your 20s because how can we even have a burn out at this age, right?
Why could I not have stayed just a few more months, waiting for things to get better?
Thinking about what I want to do with my life can not be such a time consuming activity, that I can't do it while I am working!
These, and many such similarly absurd questions were posed to me when I took this apparently life-changing decision.
But what's so wrong or surprising or questionable about my decision?
I started working for my last company immediately after my post-graduation, and my criteria for applying for this company was that my best friend had also applied.
Three years of working in a field I didn't understand ended with only this knowledge, that leaving your laptop unattended is hazardous.
A lot of us are scared of venturing into anything that is not completely planned, till the very end. The idea that we should take life as it comes is only valid if it's a photo we're posting on Instagram. In real life, we need to know everything, 10 steps in advance.
But, I'd say take that time off.
When I quit, I was sure of only one thing - that I wanted to work again at some point. And contrary to what many people in my life commented, this was not an impulsive decision.
I'd thought of it for a long time, and contemplated every question that could possibly exist. From not getting paid for foreseeable future to starting at the bottom again to considering walking back to the same old job, I had thought about it all.
But I still took that decision. And if you're planning to take one too but are scared to actually type in the mail, then this is what I have to say.
Just have a broad goal in your mind and work towards it. The rest will work out.
Give yourself a timeline. It is too easy to get accustomed to binge watching, but it is impossible to spend your life doing just that...unless you become a professional binge watcher (yes that is a real job, and yes I gave it serious thought when I quit).
Take the initial time off as a time off only. I honestly did nothing the first two months except plan trips, watch movies and sleep. I relaxed, for what felt like the first time in a long time, and the lack of emails flooding my inbox was the sweetest sound of silence.
Let your relatives be.
They were not working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and even if they were, you don't need to have the same outlook as them. Listen to them and move on.
Don't think of what could have been.
Have a backup in mind. This will give you greater peace of mind, because we are hardwired to always plan for the future.
When you're constantly thinking about the next deadline and the report to be submitted, it is very hard to figure out if you're even happy, let alone what can make you happy.
So whether it is a job you love or hate, if you dread every day before entering office and if you have learned more curse words than computer shortcuts, then take that break.
Take that time off to focus on yourself again, and there is absolutely nothing wrong in it.
Yes, I was blessed to have had immediate family that supported my decision. And I was also happy to be at a stage where I did not have any pressing obligations.
But I also knew that I was giving up definite career advancement. And I was okay with it.
And that is the basic thing - you have to be okay with taking that time off. Don't do it to be cool and don't 'not' do it because of fear.
Let your sabbatical be the time where you discover what makes you happy, where you realize that there is more to life than responding to that email.
And at the end of that time off, whether you're back to the same old job or playing as a background drummer to an obscure band, just make sure that the focus is on "YOU".