February 28, 2022

An ending is a new beginning: My self-reflection after quitting.

An ending is a new beginning: My self-reflection after quitting.

It's been a year since I decided to quit my three-year job. My previous job, I must say, was undoubtedly a unique work-and-passion-driven environment wherein every day there is a possibility of learning something new. Though the experience was quite a ride, I listened to my gut and decided to take on a new and different path.

My previous company was still a small startup when I started working for them. Back then, I anticipated every decision they make and the possibilities it entails for me in the future. After all, the early years of a company are usually always fun and exciting. It was a roller coaster of emotions when I took on any project. At times, you're up, and all seems perfect where it should be. But sometimes, it doesn't work out the way you want it to be. Burnout is a huge factor.

You see, working directly with the boss is not always as exciting as it seems. At least, not in my case. The way I see it, it builds up a lot of pressure and lack of trust. Why? Exploring more ideas can be good, but it's a nightmare with a short project timeline. There will be no more room for improvement, and planning will be short of solving the clients' problems. The company didn't have a great culture, which became more apparent when it scaled up. New employees were coming, but the company still lacked proper leadership and mentorship. There was no onboarding at all, which is the first step in establishing a great company.

This culture (or lack thereof) almost made me quit three times. But I stayed, not because of the company but because of the people I valued. My co-workers from the creative design team and my circle of friends made me pause.

And then I had enough, and I left.

When I left, there was an inexplicable sense of relief and freedom. The excitement I felt to tell everyone why I decided to start a new one was incomparable. There isn't an ounce of bad blood with my previous job, though, as I have massive respect for the organization and the people I worked with. One of the lessons I learned is that we should avoid burning bridges. Instead, we should continue supporting the people we grew to enjoy being with, even in a small way. So, here are all lessons I learned and things I realized from those years, where I am now, and where I am headed.

✏️ Questions I reflected on

How did you feel, and what were your thoughts after leaving your work?

  • Well, leaving was hard, but I knew deep down that if I continued working in toxic work culture, I would experience severe mental breakdowns and anxiety.

  • For me, sometimes, the best step is to leave your comfort zone. It might be risky, especially if you're at that stage wherein you're still not financially stable. Heck, it may even be dangerous since we are in the middle of a pandemic. But are you willing to sacrifice your mental health? Sorry, but NO!

  • My thoughts were that I needed to get out of this toxic workplace and immerse myself in a new company that promotes a healthy work culture. I wanted to meet new people that aligned with my vision. I wanted a new set of goals to reach. I need something that promotes my personal growth. Then I realized that this could be done by moving to a new workplace with excellent management and company culture.

  • I will miss the designers and some of my very passionate co-workers. I'm also happy that I can help them, even in a small way.

What have I accomplished, and what do I wish I had accomplished?

  • One of my significant accomplishments was mentoring designers and developers on CSS and helping developers transform from bootstrap to tailwindcss. For me, this is a huge step and improvement for front-end developers who can now code CSS 😅.

  • How have I grown? I think so. I feel changed my mindset. One of the best things I learned from a design supervisor and one of my close friends in Wedly, Seng, is to say NO. Yes, after I heard them try to say "NO," everything changed. Being able to decline requests at work politely is an essential skill for maintaining relationships and staying productive. For example, if they place you for an urgent project and you need to work at the weekend, I politely decline with a reason like "I have an activity for that day, but I can deliver this task by Monday.".

  • I wish I had the chance to build an internal design system, which is one of our goals. But unfortunately, due to the timeline of some projects, this idea didn't make it through the company's approval even though I started the initiatives. The timelines and rush projects were the culprits to why the design system did not materialize this idea.

Who has been a mentor to me? How have I mentored others?

  • My design supervisor and some of my co-workers, who worked on most projects, taught me basic JavaScript & ReactJS 😎.

  • I helped them on the CSS level, like how they can do this in CSS based on the design. If they have questions, I try to show them how it works and what they need to do.

🤔 Because of co-workers, I stay longer

Building a circle of co-workers, your team, and your friend group outside the office is excellent. It makes working a bit less stressful and a lot more meaningful. I sincerely want to thank them for this because, despite the hardships, they held me up and gave me the strength to stay longer at the company. The countless memories I shared with them, from sharing knowledge and ideas, playing cards or board games, eating during break time while drinking black coffee to dinner dates, will forever be close to my heart.

Today, most of them are still working together in the same company while some fled off, like me, to work at different companies. We stay in touch through social media and messaging apps like Messenger. Although, most of our bonding time today is spent on our private Discord server, where we like to stream movies and catch up after work. We also want to listen to music while doing work. Friendships have drastically changed after we switched to online work setups because if someone is in an office meeting, they deafen themselves or leave the voice channel. Sometimes, it feels like all of us are working in the same room together, like how we used to. We often enjoy helping each other develop and build our side projects/startup ideas for fun.

Wedly before pandemic Adding Kenneth and Mark Paul

Wedly before pandemic Adding Kenneth and Mark Paul

💖 The next chapter

After Jan, our product design lead, reached me last November and asked if I were interested in working at PayMongo as a UI Designer, I seized that opportunity.

I took the exam, and I did the interview. All seems well from there. However, it was the holiday season. Worry slowly but surely crept up on me because it was time to get feedback or confirmation. I had no plans that time and all that comes to mind is, was it the best time to leave? Thankfully, I also had two offers from other companies during that time if I didn't pass the interview and exam. It was a dreadful wait, but I never gave up waiting for the result. After waiting for almost two months, I finally received an email. It was a blissful moment, and all I could say was just YES! And no doubt I talked to my supervisors about leaving the company.

And now, I'm happy working in one of the best FinTech companies in the Philippines. I made the right decision and would never have regretted it. And after one year, all I can say is I'm happy with the people and the team. And Congrats on the Series B 🚀.

PayMongo product team with our CEO Francis

PayMongo product team with our CEO Francis, COS Ysa & Ryan

✌🏻 Final thoughts

I heard the company is now changing and improving. I wish them all the best in all their endeavors, and I look forward to seeing what projects they come up with in the future. Ultimately, I'm happy that whatever happens, I'll remain supportive of the people behind that company and its design team.

Sometimes it's better to step out of your comfort zone and break free from the chains of what holds you back from experiencing new beginnings. It takes time for your next journey, but whatever happens, you need to trust yourself and God – the season of waiting is worth it.

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come." ~Zig Ziglar