Starting at the end of this month, I'll be leaving my job.

I have a hard time saying out loud I'm taking a break. I find myself thinking "if I loved my job, I wouldn't need it. If I take a break, it means I'm changing careers, or spinning up a new money-making venture." Younger folks and non-Americans tend to have less of this productivity-imposed guilt. They believe it's better to live practically and sustainably than to be submerged underneath sinking systems that already need tearing down.

"Hustle" was what defined and drove my early career; it pushed me through school, and made me ambitious and bold. It's hard for me to let it go; it's an old friend of mine. I've experienced so much, good and bad, from "hustling"—from working hard past my limits.

I'm comfortable with the hustle.

Five years ago, I was sitting across from my partner, whom I had married less than two years ago. He was shaking his head. "This is crazy," he mumbled. "There's no reason we should move to Japan."

"Are we happy here?" I asked.

"We have friends and family here."

"So we're comfortable. Is that happiness for you?"

He thought for a long while. And then he said the second most important "yes" in our relationship.

Passport with cream cheese and salmon sushi roll.
Our last meal before we left. No cream cheese sushi in Japan.

Five years later. We miss our people back home dearly. But we don't miss the day-to-day of living in the States. We have warm dinners and new recipes, international friendships, new communities, and a house we never thought we'd be able to own.

We even look like different people. We're happier, healthier, and more confident. And we aren't "comfortable"—at least, in the stagnant sense of the word. We're always moving, always experiencing new things; always able to step into our comfort zone as we need it. The bold risk we took made our lives exponentially better—moreso that we thought it would.

Two years ago, I was having coffee with a colleague of mine. They asked me what it's like working for my current company.

"It's nice," I say, "My coworkers are great." I pause. They looked earnestly at me.

"And...?" They sensed there was something more I wanted to say.

There it was again. The feeling of comfort. It wasn't a bad feeling, but it didn't feel good, either. After we finished our coffee I wandered back to the train station and thought about that pause.

I could change jobs, but would have the same issue; the skills I want to stretch are sometimes aligned with my career, but sometimes they aren't. I realize I've settled, once again, into a valley of comfort. Am I happy?

Can I be happy with comfort?

For some people I know and respect, it is enough. My aunt lives in the same town she was born in and has family living nearby. She's happy with how things turned out. I've dated, and subsequently broke up with, people before who find comfort to be, well, comforting. If I'm honest, I envy them—they cultivate deep roots and can talk about the history of their hometown like an anthropologist because they've directly experienced it all.

But their happiness isn't my own. I enjoy "shaking things up," and my long-standing friends and family are, without fail, in for the ride with me.

From the outside looking in, my partner is a reserved man. To me, he's quick-witted, bold and crazy like me. Which is why when I told him about this feeling I had, he threw my words back in my face.

"Are you happy there?"

"It's crazy," I said. "My coworkers are great. I love design--I love my career."

"But are you happy?"

"I've only known hustle. I've never taken a sabbatical before."

"Sounds like you need a change."

And so the student became the master, and the master the student. I'm deeply grateful to him for his support. It is the greatest gift we can give each other—time to rest, reflect, learn and grow.

I'm starting off with a deep dive into Ren'Py, a visual novel maker. I've created prototypes before, but I'm looking to make something with a bit more polish and love than my previous games. Will it be marketable? I don't know. Will it be fun? Absolutely.

I've also slowly built up skill as a glassblower since mid-2021, and I've gained enough confidence to create more complex pieces. I'm looking to grow more and make things that are intricate and beautiful.

As far as work is concerned, I'm putting it on hold to pursue other things. I won't be considering active contracts until July.

I'll be using my personal site and cohost to document my learnings. I hope it serves as a moment I, and other folks can look back on fondly. I have a general direction on where I'm going but the route I'm taking is winding and unknown. I can only hope that something good will come from it.

Ah, hustle, my old friend. You're whispering in my ear, asking me to close this entry with promises a Patreon or Substack, to engage my readers. But I don't know where this experimentation will take me. I'm tired of the comforting pattern of making a thing marketable. I'm ready to experiment.

So here I am. Tired of comfort, a little crazy, a little bold, stepping off the cliff, scared of the height, hopeful it will lead to things I can't otherwise imagine.