Leaving my well paid job for my mental health: This is what happened

Having a summer job when you are a student is basically a must. However, sometimes we prioritise money over our mental health without even noticing it.


My first summer job was lifeguarding. I started when I was just about 17 years old. Being as I was a summer pool rat my entire life prior to this, I dreamt of being a lifeguard. Getting paid to be at the pool all day? What can be better than that!



My first year was not too bad. I liked my staff and since I was 17, there was no peer pressure regarding drinking and parties. My job at the pool was maintenance, which also meant I did not have to guard the pool that much.


My mood towards this job took a shift in my second year. I was an instructor, which means I taught swimming lessons and coached the summer swim team, which is a summer competitive swim team that is open to all. It is just for fun. These aspects of my job were the ones I loved the most. However, this position it also meant I had to guard the bigger pool a lot more. This is when my anxiety was kicking in. But every time I got that pay check I kept telling myself it was because I was not used to it and it was going to get better with time. The money made me think that this small amount of stress that I was enduring was all worth it.  


My third summer was when I realized this job was not for me. I had just turned 19. I was a full time guard, which meant I was on the lifeguard duty pretty much all day. And, to top it all off, we were missing a lot of staff that summer so I worked 45 hours a week. It was getting so draining that I would have anxiety attacks almost every night and I dreaded going to work everyday. I did not trust myself as a lifeguard. The peer pressure from other lifeguards was also getting to me. To be completely honest, I just thought it was my anxiety disorder acting up. So I decided to go back and consult with my therapist. She then gave me the best advice that will stick with me for the rest of my life. She explained to me that sometimes having a job that pays well might seem like the best decision because it makes your conscious happy. Meaning, the side of you that might be more rational or that would want to please others around you, like your parents for example. But the thing is, your conscious and your health are two different things. And one is far more important than the other. When a job starts to take over your life in the way lifeguarding was doing for me, a change had to be done.



When the summer was over, I decided to quit lifeguarding. For a few months, I was debating between a couple of jobs, but I quickly realised I wanted to try day camp. I already knew the staff that worked at my city’s camp so I wanted to give it a shot. I applied in February and I learned I got the job as a camp monitor for the summer a few weeks after my interview. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was so excited to try out this new job.


I’ve been a camp monitor for about  three years now and I love it. It was definitely not an easy decision to switch jobs, but it was without doubt the best decision I could have made. In my case, money doesn’t really matter. After all the stress and pressure I endured, I finally felt like I had a job that suited me perfectly. Quitting a well paid job is not easy. Even if it is a job that you hate. However, the feeling of waking up in the morning excited to go to work, in my opinion, is worth way more than a paycheck.  



Edited by: Amanda Cloutier-Santos