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Standing for Themselves: Why More Young Women Are Taking Time Off

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In her recent Medium article, "A Leap of Faith" 27-year-old Jenn Vargas notes that, " I realized that I'd stopped standing up for myself and the things I want," an awareness that led her to quit her job as a Product Manager at Birchbox and instead focus her energy on tackling items on her own to do list.

Cassie Marketos, 28 and employee #1 at Kickstarter, quit her job there over six months ago to travel and pick up freelance projects, and later wrote a piece on her personal blog called "Take Time Off". The post garnered over 350 notes, and tons of emails in Cassie's inbox in response to her announcing that:

After a lot of thought, I realize that I was suffering from a kind of mimicry. Rather than thoughtfully defining what I personally wanted, I had absorbed an arbitrary value system from my surrounding environment. Based on that, I had created a set of goals that I had no real desire to accomplish, but felt crappy nevertheless for failing to achieve. I just saw other people around me defining success and happiness as a certain thing, and thought, "Oh, that must be it." And I had ended up working in the opposite direction of anything I had ever wanted or that made me feel good, but the further along I got on that path, the more resigned I felt to it. Like: I have to do this now, I am already halfway there.

Ellen Huerta, 28, and a Googler for six years, recently wrote a viral blog post on Medium entitled "Why I Left Google", which was later re-posted to Huffington Post, and now has over 200 comments.

In the article, Huerta describes the reason for her departure -- she didn't know exactly why at the time, and still doesn't, but knew that she "couldn't stay"-- the difficulty in walking away from company with so much prestige and perceived perks, and then the final realization that she wanted to leave simply because she felt she "wasn't living authentically."

These women are all under 30, single, intelligent, creative, have some money saved and are on successful career paths at their respective well-known companies.

But they all left. With no other full-time job to jump into, and only a vague idea -- backed by a gut feeling to incite change -- of why they were doing it in the first place.

It used to be, and still is, that the 40-something executive woman went on sabbatical "to find herself." But, more and more, women aren't waiting that long -- until they are established in their career, have a family, a house, responsibilities. They are doing it now, when the risk is arguably lower.

I myself had planned to take three months off from my full-time job to work another full-time gig in Beirut, Lebanon -- with the idea to work on a project for a short amount of time, and to gain international experience locally.

Five days before I was supposed to fly out, the opportunity fell through due to safety issues. I was already prepared for my journey -- I'd found a temporary replacement at work, and sublet my apartment -- and I knew I had to continue. I reached out to my contacts and landed a role in Istanbul until the end of October. After that, I'm not sure where I'll be (I go back to my job on December 2nd), but I'm enjoying the open road, the adventure and the possibilities.

The project I'm working on here is flexible. I'm able to take the time to drink tea in cafes and work on other things. I know now that I needed this time to put what I want in the forefront of my life, and to have the mental space to understand what that is. It's hard to find that clarity when you are busy working and pushing and living in the daily grind.

Vargas is currently looking for opportunities abroad. Marketos is now in Istanbul and remotely freelancing for a few start-ups. Her next stop? The south of France. Huerta is working on her own start-up, baking and walking along the Venice beach. And I am in Istanbul, with a recent weekend in Greece and plans to go to France and Dubai. November is open for now and I'm enjoying exploring the prospects of what it may bring.

These women don't want to "have it all," they don't want to "lean in" -- which on a whole doesn't promote the healthiest lifestyle -- they want to live what they feel is an authentic life, to be successful in their creative endeavors and to come to the conclusion of what that means on their own.

Read more stories of women "Standing for Themselves" in this Medium collection: "Standing for Ourselves: Women taking big risks in their careers, and personal lives"