My intention in leaving my job was to set things right.
It was my attempt to untangle myself from a life that I no longer respected. From a me that I no longer respected. Things had been snowballing and had become a big, confusing mess.
I was living a life that was in violent violation of the God that was alive inside of me, begging for me to pay better attention. I was a woman who was held in high regard by most of her colleagues and by the people above her.
In six years, I had worked my way to the top of the company. I started out as a 25-year old adolescent who was parading herself around as an adult. I left there as a woman who had the experience of adult life, and what type of responsibility comes with being a professional.
Months before I actually left my job, deep within the caverns of my soul, something began to rot.
A seed of poisonous fruit was planted, and it started to fester.
A small grudge can turn into a towering empire of anger if it’s watered with a little daily resentment. Add to that a little of “this isn’t fair”, or “I deserve better than this”, and you will soon find yourself (as I did) saying things you don’t mean, doing things you shouldn’t have done, and justifying it with the vigor of someone who is completely disconnected from God.
The hard worker in me kept telling me to suck it up and go to work. To ignore all that mess on the inside, that it wasn’t really affecting me.
Sweep something under the rug for long enough, and you will soon be tripping over a mountain in the kitchen.
I was waking up daily, unable to muster the strength to simply get out of bed. My thoughts and emotions would begin swirling the moment I woke up. The sleep was short because those same thoughts kept me awake deep into the night. I did not wake up with joy.
I felt an emptiness inside of me that quickly went from a hollow hole, to something alive and breathing that gained momentum every time I perceived myself to be slighted.
Even if they haven’t done anything yet, given enough time, we become convinced they will hurt us. Being on guard and standing at attention all day long to prevent my own emotions from taking over was exhausting.
I was depleted in a way that only those who have been through an internal war can recognize. My eyes had the look of someone who had retreated inside of herself. I was on the losing end of the battle.
There had been a still, small voice inside me for months that was telling me to go. That this place was not where I was supposed to be anymore. That living the life of a professional woman who is respected by some, but who hates herself, is really no life at all.
Perhaps I was raised with too big of a conscience, too lofty of an idea of how humans are supposed to treat each other, to remain there for as long as I did.
I had always preferred right over wrong. Honesty over lies.
My job had me in direct opposition to the ethical map which had always guided my life. In terms of latitude and longitude, I was off the grid. I was so very far from center that I could no longer smell my way home. I was experiencing emotional dyslexia.
The ethical dilemmas that I found myself facing were suddenly very confusing and hard to read.
In a professional world where everything is backwards, where up is down and right is wrong, it would have been career suicide to be known as a whistle blower.
I was expected to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to situations that were sickening. The problem is that my eyes have never been blind, and my ears have never been deaf. Facing these forced handicaps, I cowered for many years.
Until the day when I just couldn’t do it anymore.
There was nothing different about that day, except that I had had enough. I had enough of the covering up and the lies. I had enough of trying to quiet the voice inside of me that by this point was yelling at me to “GO”.
On this day, I listened.
There were only a few things I knew for sure at that time.
I knew that I had to leave my job.
I knew that my insides were ill at ease, discontented and not at rest.
I knew that healing needed to begin to take place in my soul and in my heart.
I knew that I felt disconnected from my Creator; that the sense of depression that came along with that feeling was almost more than I could bear.
On more than one occasion, I had seriously contemplated ending my own life.
In evaluating which was more important to me—my job or my life—it is sad that it took as long as it did for me to choose my life. Let it speak volumes about my dedication to this job, that I functioned at work, while in the pit of depression, for a very, very long time.
Essentially what happened here, my friends, is that I sat down at the age of 31, and would not budge. I metaphorically blew the whistle and said “I need help”.
I will tell you this: You will not quit your job as an adult, have no security net and expect to walk through that unchanged. You will not come out the other end of an experience like that, the same person you went in as.
I have always been the kind of person who has tried to educate her way out of pain. The problem with that is that education is not experience. And my feelings have always trumped my intelligence, most days of the week. Inevitably, I ended up with a head full of knowledge and a gut full of heartache.
Have you ever stayed somewhere longer than you should have because you wanted to fit in?
I have chased that feeling of belonging to some pretty dark places. I will trade what I believe, all my self-worth and my money, if you will tell me I belong. I have wanted to bind people to me, and make them dependent on me, so that I would never be alone.
Leaving your job will do a few things to you.
It will scare you.
It will scare you in a place where the fear is so alive it feels suffocating.
You will say to yourself, “Why did you do that?!” “Are you crazy?!” “Who quits their job?!?!”
You will have moments where you will be sure this is the best decision you have ever made, and you will have moments where you are convinced you are the dumbest person who has ever walked the planet.
If you open yourself to this experience, it will only change you for the better.
Working a full-time job steadily for 13 years, I dreamt of laying in pajamas all day and reading novels.
The reality of this is that if you let it, depression will come in and cloud the experience until you haven’t showered for days and are eating cereal out of the box with a spoon, because you have no clean bowls.
My story has a happy ending.
I am now working at a place that fills me with joy. I whole heartedly love my job. I no longer wake up with a feeling of dread.
At the end of an experience like this, you will truly know yourself. You will find that you can walk through challenging situations and be okay. You will know that you are stronger than you ever thought possible.
You will work again. You have a lifetime of working in front of you.
If you find yourself in a situation like I did, quit. It’s a tremendous risk but the comeback will be amazing.
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Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Rekha Singh / Pixoto