Jump or Get off the Ledge aka I Quit my Job

A safe distance from the edge, I looked out and saw green grass, rolling hills, and beautiful blue skies. I looked below and saw a river; my heart began to pound. This was real.

New Zealand Bungy

My shins were uncomfortable from the equipment pressing so tightly, but that’s what you want when bungy jumping. Tightness. The harness around my waist was secure and ran the length of my legs, connecting it to my ankle restraints. I walked like a penguin closer to the edge; it was difficult to move at all. Part of that came from the safety equipment and the other part came from the paralyzing fear I was beginning to feel.

New Zealand AJ Hackett

Would these ropes hold? Were they measured correctly? Would I have a heart attack before the cord even stretched out? Bungy jumping is on my to-do list. I couldn’t come to New Zealand and NOT bungy jump.  My common sense told me that I would be stupid to jump off something so high with only nylon, metal, and other ordinary stuff keeping me from killing myself. My stomach started churning.

I waddled a little closer. The weight of the thick cord pulled me down when it was dangled from the ledge. I felt as if I wouldn’t have to fall or jump; the cord’s weight would just jerk me down. The more I thought about it, the more scared I got. I began to shake and fear that a stiff breeze would blow me off the platform.

“I can’t do this. I mean, I really can’t do this.”

New Zealand Bungy

My mind was made up. The cord was pulled back onto the platform and the equipment removed. I was disappointed in myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would not follow through and jump. Why did I let my mind get in the way of this experience? I vowed never to let fear stop me from doing something I desired, no matter how scary.

I originally wrote of this experience in November 2011, but recently, the feeling of this failed bungy jump again enveloped me. I wasn’t standing on the edge of something high about to hurl myself into some vastness below. No, this was a metaphorical jump, simply a conversation with my boss, a person whom I adore.

Res

It was time for me to go. I knew it. She knew it. I was stretched thin trying to do everything. In the end, I wasn’t doing my best at anything, which wasn’t fair to my employer, family, friends, site, or myself. Something had to give.  So, at the end of February, I will no longer be in corporate America working in a comfy technical writing position. There’s no more guaranteed paycheck with a 401k and paid holidays and vacation. To me, that’s much more frightening than jumping off a bridge. At least by jumping I’d quickly know the outcome.

As of February 28th, I’m dedicating myself 100% to my writing, this site, and a couple of other business ventures I have in the works. My bosses have given me a life boat of sorts. They’ve offered part-time opportunities and told me that I am welcome back. I appreciate the offer and am honored that they think so highly of the job I’ve done. Perhaps I’ll step back into the cubicle at some point, but right now it’s time to jump or get off the ledge.

Without a strong support system there is no way I would be able to simply quit my job and pursue my travel and writing dreams. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity and humbled knowing that there are people that believe in me in such a way.

Now the REAL work begins.

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87 Comments
  • @mrsoaroundworld
    February 18, 2013

    The world is your oyster Leah! Scary as hell, but think of the opportunities! I am so with you 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You and I have a golden path in front of us and I’m honored to walk part of it alongside you.

  • Lucia
    February 18, 2013

    I wish you all the luck!!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you so much, Lucia.

  • Loz in Transit
    February 18, 2013

    Inspirational. Now we should all jump off the edge!

    Myself, I have a relatively high fear threshold when it comes to heights and most other things. (Though I do get scared of talking to cute girls). My disappointment comes when I know I’m not using this fearlessness to its full potential. Cheers for risk taking, it’s the rush of living.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I think I fear failure more than heights. The cool thing about quitting is that much of my writing and travel future is in my hands. That is a powerful feeling.

  • D.J. - The World of Deej
    February 18, 2013

    That’s amazing news Leah. Scary, yes, but still flipping amazing. Everyone that does it says that’s the first step…you’ll figure the rest out as you go!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I’m counting on you to help me figure it out, Deej. That is, as long as it doesn’t involve working on or writing about cruise ships. 😉 Sincerely, thank you!

  • Paula Kiger
    February 18, 2013

    I don’t think I would have bungied either — I don’t think you’re a wimp for not doing it! And kudos to you for following your heart. You may have seen my tweet about how I opened this post up this morning and can’t bring myself to x out of it ….. because I need to do the very same thing and haven’t found the courage (or the source of health insurance for my kids or my mortgage payment, etc. etc. etc) yet! Good luck to you; I am in admiration over here.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I did see your tweet! Such a kind thing to say. Fortunately I have help with all the insurance, mortgage, and stuff like that. Best of luck to you in finding your bliss.

  • Adam
    February 18, 2013

    Congrats!!! I just wrote about this as well – Did you see the recent article on NYTimes about knowing when to quit your job? It was really informative…and inspirational! (Check my recent post below with the link to the article)

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I did see that article, Adam! Talk about timely. I’m going to check out your post, too. Thanks for the support and the link.

  • Matthew Hirtes
    February 18, 2013

    Good on you, Leah. And just as Robert Schrader inspired you, hopefully you’ll be a role model for others.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I agree, Matthew. I’ll certainly do my best to pay it forward. Thank you.

  • Tom @ Waegook Tom
    February 18, 2013

    Congratulations, and good luck! I venture into the world of the no-guaranteed-paycheck from next Thursday…let’s see how that goes! Hopefully we’ll meet up, whether it be in Boston or Toronto, both as successful, fabulous and sexy full-time bloggers. Well hoping successful…sexy and fabulous have already been achieved 😉

    Also, I totally wouldn’t have done the bungee jump, either.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      “Well hoping successful…sexy and fabulous have already been achieved.”

      This made me smile. Thank you so much for the encouragement. Our paths will cross soon, but until then I’ll be following your amazing adventure.

  • Cassie
    February 18, 2013

    What an impressive leap – congrats! I love how you put the bungee jumping in perspective. Maybe now that you’ve taken the scarier plunge, you’re ready to try jumping off a bridge again? 😉

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Oh, Cassie, there is bungy jumping in my near future. You can count on that!

  • Jeff @ GoTravelzing
    February 18, 2013

    Congratulations on taking the leap. You are going to have an amazing journey.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you for all your encouragement and support along the way, Jeff.

  • Lisa
    February 18, 2013

    Wow, that is scary but exciting. Good luck and congratulations on pursuing what you love.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You are correct on both accounts, Lisa. Thanks for your kind words, as always.

  • Nicole @ Suitcase Stories
    February 18, 2013

    Such an inspirational post. I love hearing stories like yours because we too jumped off that ledge (12 months on the road so far) and while it was scary it was also the most exhilarating feeling Ive ever had.

    I truly believe that if you follow your heart and your dreams you can not go wrong.

    Good luck with your adventures, I look forward to reading about it all!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      A year on the road and you’ve lived to tell the tale. Congratulations are in order to you! Thank you for the well wishes and continued safe travels.

  • Anita
    February 18, 2013

    Wow what a decision! Congrats for being so “adventurous” and I wish you loads of fun on your future “travelicious” path 🙂 As we missed each other in Switzerland, I hope to meet you someday somewhere

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you, Anita. You can bet that I will be back in Switzerland soon…probably late spring early summer. We must meet.

  • Kate @30Traveler
    February 18, 2013

    I’m leaving my job at the end of next month. So scary and exciting all at once! Is great to have the travel blogging community to connect with others who are going through the same stage!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Congratulations to you, Kate. I’m curious to know your plans. Best of luck!

  • Aaron
    February 18, 2013

    Congrats! Go get em Leah! Follow your dreams. Great things ahead for you. 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You’re always the sweetest, Aaron. Thank you! Don’t think I’ll be spending my time standing in lines at over-hyped doughnut shops with you though. 😉

  • Jennifer
    February 18, 2013

    Congratulations! I’d like to take this step but am just not there yet…

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I totally understand, Jennifer. I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while. Now just seemed like the right time. You’ll know it when your time comes, too.

  • Jeremy Branham
    February 18, 2013

    Congrats on taking that step! I knew this time would come for you. It was just a matter of when. You hung in there a little longer than I expected. Good luck with the new direction. I’ve thought a lot about making this step myself. However, I don’t think I am ready for it yet.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you, Jeremy. I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did too, but I thought I’d be fired first! Haha!

  • Sarah
    February 18, 2013

    Congrats, and best of luck with everything!! I am currently in a similar situation… about to end my teaching contract to travel! 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      One of the best days of my life is when I walked out of the high school I was teaching at for the last time. I haven’t looked back. Congratulations to you, Sarah.

  • pointsandtravel
    February 18, 2013

    Congratulations! I can’t wait till my JUMP day! It is scary as Hell, but I know you will make the best of it! Good luck Texas girl!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Girl, get to stretching because that jump is gonna sting a bit at first. Let me know when your day comes.

  • Christian
    February 18, 2013

    Congratulations, Leah! That is quite a leap indeed, but I have no doubt you will land on your feet.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      First, love the analogy. Second, thank you! I’m glad we’ve connected as of late.

  • Erik
    February 19, 2013

    BEST OF LUCK! You’re going to do great!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You are the best, Erik! Really, such a wonderful person. I hope to share a cocktail with you soon.

  • Kristina
    February 19, 2013

    Congrats, how amazing and brave of you! Best of luck on your new adventures!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Brave and/or stupid…I suppose it all depends on how things work out. 😉 Thank you, Kristina.

  • Traci W
    February 19, 2013

    Congratulations! I understand that feeling. I put in my resignation last summer. I’m approaching 6 months of “gleefully unemployed” from corporate America. I have some freelance gigs I’ve picked up, and am enjoying traveling.

    Best of luck.
    -Traci

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      AWESOME! Corporate America will always be there. In making this decision, I told myself, “I can always get another job.” I, as I’m sure you have, put myself in a position to know that yes, I will be able to step back into the cubicle should I choose to.

  • Mike
    February 19, 2013

    “Stress level: extreme. It’s like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”
    ― Fiona Wood, Six Impossible Things

    Go get ’em young lady and may your travels all be safe!!!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      What a visually-stirring sentence. That’s just awesome. Fiona Wood gets my admiration with that. Thanks for sharing and your never-ending support, Mike.

  • Karla
    February 19, 2013

    Congratulations Leah!

    That must be liberating but scary like hell at once!

    I too gave up my super corporate position in order to LIVE and take care of my health. That was the wisest and best decision ever.

    You are doing what your heart truly wants and though you may not know where the support is or will be, just trust that this universe will provide for everything you need.

    Believe me on that one cause I’ve been doing it for 5 years now!

    You are very talented and fab opportunities are just lining up nicely for you.

    Keep up the great work & I look forward to read more of your adventures.

    K 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Five years? Wow, Karla. You’re an inspiration to me. Thank you for the vote of confidence and all of your support. Continued safe and fabulous travels to you.

  • Joshua
    February 19, 2013

    I’m so glad you are taking the plunge and doing what you want. I wish you all the best and hope you have a great time doing the things you love.

    May all your wildest dreams come true!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you, my dear. What I want to do is meet you! Just remember when you’re working the night shift, my Facebook green light is always on to keep you company.

  • Diana
    February 19, 2013

    Congrats on taking the leap! Sounds like you have a great friend in your boss, so I’m glad that it worked out amicably. I look forward to reading where the road (or you know, commercial planes) take you! Go get ’em!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Yes, Diana, my boss is fabulous. I’m fortunate to have made a friend in her. She is also a travel fanatic, so she could totally relate. That helped a whole bunch.

  • Mateo
    February 19, 2013

    Good for you Leah. I can’t wait to see where you will take us all as you will soon get to completely focus on what is meant to be.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      I can’t wait to see either. I’m so impatient, so I hope the picture comes into focus sooner rather than later.

  • Anita Mac
    February 19, 2013

    Wow Leah – congrats! That is a huge jump, and I was wondering when you would take it! I am sure you will never look back! I know you will be successful no matter what you take on!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You’re too sweet to me, Anita. Yes, I’ve been really struggling with the decision to do it. Fortunately I have people who gave me the push and support I needed.

  • Lola
    February 19, 2013

    happy for you, dear Leah. it’s always been rewarding and fulfilling for me, when i took the chance and went for my dreams.

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Here’s to us finally getting to chase those dreams full time together. Sky’s the limit for the two of us, my friend.

  • Pola (@jettingaround)
    February 20, 2013

    Nice bungee jumping metaphor. 🙂 I know what it’s like to take this step, so good luck to you!

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      You always get my English nerdiness, Pola. Thank you for your support now and always.

  • Natalie @ In Natalie's Shoes
    February 20, 2013

    Yikes! Kudos to you for trusting your instincts in a new situation! I can’t wait to see where this takes you 🙂

  • Robert Schrader
    February 20, 2013

    Glad you finally took my advice 😉

    • Leah Walker
      February 20, 2013

      Hi, Love. You’re my inspiration. 🙂 Watch out, world. You’ve got two Texans ready to take over now!

  • Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    February 20, 2013

    Congrats – you jumped! Metaphorically or not, you took that leap. I’d say best of luck, but you don’t really need it. Go make that dent in this universe, girl!

    • Leah Walker
      February 21, 2013

      I’m taking a cue from you, Kieu…haha..how did you like that play on words? Thanks, and I plan on making a meteor-sized dent. 😉

  • Erica
    February 21, 2013

    Such a brave move. Good luck with your future endeavors!

    • Leah Walker
      February 21, 2013

      Brave or stupid…I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Thank you!

  • Christina S.
    February 21, 2013

    Good for you!

    • Leah Walker
      February 22, 2013

      Thanks so much, Christina. 🙂

  • The World Wanderer
    February 21, 2013

    Yay! This is so exciting! Congrats! I think this jump was more important than that silly bungy anyway…ps, I didn’t do it in NZ either. Though, I’d be all for quitting my job! 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      February 22, 2013

      I’m going to do the bungy when I get back to New Zealand. That’s just going to happen. As for the quitting part, I don’t blame you. The day I quit teaching was one of my best.

  • Paula
    February 21, 2013

    Good for you! It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, isn’t it? I quit 9 months ago and while I work more, have never been so calm!

    • Leah Walker
      February 22, 2013

      Congratulations to you! I imagine I’ll work a lot harder, but it will be doing something I love, as I imagine you relate to.

  • the lazy travelers
    February 22, 2013

    woo hoo!! welcome to the club. true story, i got so nervous about quitting that i did it 4 months early… and my direct boss basically told me i was a moron and to go back to my desk. then i did it again for real in november and it was the best feeling in the world. only up from here! xo! the romantic

    • Leah Walker
      February 22, 2013

      Haha…your boss wouldn’t let you quit? That makes me laugh and it’s totally something out of a sitcom.

  • Stephanie
    February 26, 2013

    I love your courage! I think I’m next in line to bungee jump but I keep letting other people go first…sigh. good luck on this new stage in life!

    • Leah Walker
      February 26, 2013

      Thank you, Stephanie. It is kind of scary, I’ll admit.

  • Amanda
    February 26, 2013

    Way to take the metaphorical plunge, Leah!!

    Good luck on the new adventure – I’m sure it will be amazing.

    • Leah Walker
      March 3, 2013

      Thank you, Amanda. It’s started out pretty fantastic thus far.

  • Katherine | Kapcha The World
    March 30, 2013

    Yaaaaayyyyy – awesome news – not sure how I missed this till now. So how is jumping off the ledge treating you so far??? So glad you took the leap though. Fantastic – so pleased for you.

    • Leah Walker
      March 31, 2013

      Thank you, Katherine! I haven’t had a moment to digest the jump, but I’m having a damn good time trying.

  • Mike
    April 8, 2013

    I’m new to your site and am inspired by your story. Thank you so much for sharing it as I seem to be in a similar boat as you. Next year I’ll be teaching in Spain and leaving a safe, secure, stable (…boring…) job. I’m ready to jump, just as you were. I look forward to following your adventures!

    • Leah Walker
      April 9, 2013

      Congratulations to you, Mike. I find that I regret the things I don’t do rather than the things that I actually do. Best of luck teaching in Spain. It’s a wonderful place. I do hope you enjoy teaching more than I did. Ten years was enough. 🙂

  • Liz
    April 10, 2013

    Nice to know I’m not alone out there 🙂 Looking forward to meeting you!

    • Leah Walker
      April 10, 2013

      Here’s to both of our successes. See you in Jordan!

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