Why I Turned Down A $74,000 Job Last Year

“Congrats on graduating!”

“Thanks! I appreciate it.”

“So… what are you doing now?”

“Um… well…”

The same conversation. Every. Day.

Words that wouldn’t bother me at all if I had a solid answer but—judging by the looks on my friends’ faces—it’s hard to explain my decision in a neat 30-second pitch.

As anyone knows, I was supposed to either start a career or go to grad school already. Apparently the only two options out of college. Those aren’t wrong, of course, but they aren’t where I’ve ended up.

In October a dream career fell into place after reluctantly attending a career fair, wearing borrowed clothes from friends because I didn’t (and still don’t) own a suit. I threw together a quick resume and walked off to rub noses with some recruiters because my roommate was going and it sounded like a good idea.

Days later a major company requested I interview in Knoxville that week. A few lame interview jokes later I landed a high-paying business job which would have moved me to Seattle in January.

While I should have been elated, I was actually frustratingly stressed.

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It was an incredible offer, no doubt, but I was uneasy about making the decision so quickly. I didn’t know what other opportunities were on the horizon and wasn’t confident in moving so far away on a whim. What’s more, the cold and I don’t take too fondly to each other and I get very depressed when the sun hides himself for more than a couple hours.

At the same time, it was a dream offer. The paycheck was fatter than any other entry level job I was likely to land. My resume would look incredible for the future. There are some parts of the job I think I’d really enjoy. Was it dumb to pass this up so easily?

Overwhelmed, I retreated for the weekend stay with my friends Mark and Courtney in Georgia. They’re the kind of people who listen first (sans judgment) and then—at the right moment—ask questions which pull answers you didn’t realize were already there. Mark didn’t offer many opinions that weekend. Instead he helped me figure out what I was already thinking.

The following week I threw my cards in and decided not to work for anyone in January.

The email to the company read something like this:

“I really appreciate your offer but I don’t want to start working in January… or February or March, you get the idea. But hey, if for some reason you need a guy in August, let me know because I’ll probably be broke and desperate by then.”

They responded with,

“Okay Jordan, we’ll put you down for August.”

Way easier than I expected.

With that, I began dreaming towards what I now refer to as The Gap Semester.

“Great, so you’re going to be a bum for a few months? That doesn’t sound life changing.”

You’re right, that would be worthless and it is ridiculously tempting to bum around because I might be the most free, non-busy person on this planet right now. 

I don’t feel like a bum, however. I feel like I’m connecting with the community I’ve spent three and a half years existing in. These are the last months we’re going to be together with such freedom, doesn’t it make sense to enjoy a lot of time together? 

Outside of that, I’ve dreamt enough dreams to supply an entire generation of 20-somethings with new hobbies. At least once a day I confidently declare to my roommates the new adventure I’m going to embark on or skill I’m going to pick up. Everything from being an Uber driver to learning Spanish or backpacking in Iran. Slowly, I’m narrowing them down and picking a few to pursue. 

So no, my friends, I don’t think I’m wasting my time. 

I’m dreaming and exploring, just as I was taught to do from early childhood. I’m connecting better with people than I ever have. I’m learning more about Jesus, how God has wired me and what it means to follow Him. I’m reflecting on stories of the past and making memories that will create stories for the future.

I honestly believe life is not about the career path I travel but who I’m becoming. Confusing one for the other seems to be a major pitfall for the majority of humanity.

Setting the precedent of a purposeful life now seems to be the only option, when else will I start? Declaring that I refuse to slave myself to the biggest paycheck but instead will sacrifice worldly success for a life lived honestly. A life where I try to become more like Jesus and let the details fall in line behind that.

Right now, for me, it means taking a semester off to just be. 

Is this the wisest thing I’ve ever done or the dumbest? People I respect have spoken to both sides, so I’m not sure. Hopefully it’s wise because I’ve already made my decision and am determined to see it through.

5 weeks in, I have yet to regret it.

6 thoughts on “Why I Turned Down A $74,000 Job Last Year”

  1. (another winshape staffer here, although I don’t think we know each other!) Good for you, I love seeing your perspective and these are such wise words! I graduated last May and I felt the same way–I wanted to take time in life to explore what God wants, not necessarily obsessing over a career (unless he wanted me to take one). I had little luck with jobs and the one and only one that I was interviewed for in my field, I drove back the same day to tell them that I couldn’t continue with the process. God was telling me that it wasn’t for me.
    Fast forward to a few months later I’m going back to Ireland instead of jumping into a desk job… I’m going to be an au pair for a year-ish, travel, and meet up with all the friends I made when I lived in Ireland during college. I think it’ll give me time to serve, discover a lot of great things God created, and see a lot of different options.
    All the best with your future plans and enjoy your “semester off”, new hobbies, and hey if you are ever near Ireland you’re more than welcome! 🙂

    Like

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