Oh, Charity—

You’re still reeling after quitting your first real job. I know that.

I know it was hard to be called a short-timer, and it was disappointing to realize the career you had planned on for years wasn’t working out. I know that you are looking back now on the one time—THE ONE TIME—in college that you let yourself quit something as the beginning of a road to nowhere.

But even though quitting that first job might mean years of trying to find your way, it was the right thing to do. You know that, don’t you?

You come from a long line of people who don’t quit: parents who spent years in jobs they didn’t like; grandparents who raised many children with hardly two nickels to rub together but kept going; even great-grandparents who lost spouses and children to diseases we no longer even concern ourselves with because of vaccinations, and yet they carried on, remarrying, having more children, looking to the future.

Coming from stock like that means tenacity is in your genes.

Believe me, you’re going to have to dig deep and stick out plenty of hardships in your life, just like those who came before you. But that’s later. And those will be the results of circumstances you can’t control.

So, more about this job you just left. It wasn’t re-ally about the principle of the matter, was it? Sure, it was hard to receive threats of lawsuits just because you wrote the facts about someone on the front page of the local newspaper. And I know that trying to be objective all the time and attributing everything you wrote to someone else turned out to be more difficult than you imagined when you were in journalism school. You nearly lost yourself by not being able to express yourself.

All of those things were true, and you did a good job parsing and articulating those issues as ones that made you no longer want to be a journalist. But that’s only part of the reason you quit.

Living in the same state your whole life, and reporting on small-town Indiana had made the reality of its smallness feel like a 50-pound bag of seed corn lying on your chest. You needed a bigger picture of the world, needed to meet people and see places and stumble upon ideas that aren’t even in the books that line the shelves of your small-town library. You needed to get out of your hometown so that you could breathe.

All of these things led to your resignation. But there was more, too.


This is an excerpt from my chapter in a new book called Letters to Me: Conversations with a Younger Self, where a varied collection of artists, poets, pastors, and business people remember something that happened when they were between 18 and 30, and then send a letter to themselves about that event. With the benefit of hindsight and reflection, they warn, challenge, and encourage a younger self facing a problem at work, a budding relationship, an important decision, an unexpected development.

To read the rest of my story and the tales others tell, please consider purchasing a copy of the book in paperback or Kindle format. You can also read an author interview I did with our editor, Dan Schmidt, at his blog.