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Whenever I feel like quitting my job, I just look back to when I first started out and think about how far I am now from that person. Over the course of a few years, my job – with its physical, emotional, and mental demands – has altered me. On the odd and exhausting days I indulge the thought of resigning and feel the like the current stressful experience is truly the last straw, the last set of problems which I could take, I discover a certain grace which allows me to fight the feelings of incompetence or inadequacy, fear and self-pity, and regain the confidence in myself to actually resolve an issue, hurdle an obstacle, and see through even the most testing of times.

Three years ago the person I was would have simply given up in the face of such daunting tasks. The slightest discomforts and smallest of setbacks would have been enough for me to consider quitting my job, and look for a position where there were fewer challenges. My reputation mattered more to me when I started out. I was a man afraid of failure and not meeting expectations. Only when I first decided to stay and see through my job did I figure out failure and disappointments made a person stronger and more motivated. So when I finally succeeded in accomplishing the big tasks, the contentment was nothing like I ever experienced before: sweeter, more lasting.

As I hurdled one obstacle after another, and learned from the inevitable mistakes, I became less concerned about my reputation, and more intent on building my character. I needed to. I wasn’t going to be in my twenties forever and if I wanted to be financially stable and professionally sound, I could no longer allow myself to be overcome by fear. With every new day at work was a new opportunity to become better. Each time my boss told me off, I made sure the same mistake wouldn’t happen again. Each time I saw a flood of emails, I made sure I didn’t quiver or flee to the consolation of daydreaming. I took all of these unpleasant experiences head on, backed by the confidence there was nothing really left to lose if I gave my best in the endeavor.

If you asked me three years ago if I saw myself staying in my current job, I would have dismissed the question as a foolish rhetoric when it seemed obvious I was more interested in leaving. The pay was, and still isn’t, handsome. The perks are small compared to other industries. But something changed in me which made me stay. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is. Maybe it was, as I said above, the desire to build character. But then again, how that desire was instilled in me is something I still am trying to figure out. Maybe I never will too. Regardless, I’m glad intangibles truly work in our lives. These mysteries, combined with the human experience, transform the character of the person willing to respond to the graces so eloquently but subtly piercing our lives.