Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that the last thing I am is a quitter.
Until now, I have only quit one job. It was after two days of being the “Snack Cart Girl” at the golf course in Gainesville while I was in college. I had visions of a cushy gig with nice tips for my stellar service but the reality included driving around in a caged golf cart (so I didn’t get hit by rogue golf balls) scoring maybe a quarter as profit for a melted snickers. It sucked and I hated it so I quit. (Note: This is also the worst type of job for someone with zero sense of direction – I must have circled the same putting green 20 times before finding my way to the next hole).
I have also never been fired. Every other job I left was solely because I was moving to a different city or state and in fact, on more than one occasion when I gave my notice, instead of accepting it, the employers basically created situations where I could keep working from wherever I was going. I am certainly not perfect but I can tell you with confidence that I am the type of employee who throws myself into what I’m doing and goes above and beyond to make my superiors happy. I’ve always been a pleaser. Not a pushover by any stretch because I am most certainly not a “Yes Woman”, but definitely a pleaser.
But yesterday, I quit my job.
When I was minutes away actually doing it, I wanted to throw up. I was dreading the conversation. Wasn’t sure how it was going to do down, and just wanted to blink my eyes and have it be over. But, it could not have been a better interaction if I scripted it myself. My boss was beyond understanding and could not have been nicer. We were totally on the same page and while it’s always awkward to have difficult conversations, this one was smooth sailing. And I am beyond thankful to him for that.
Let me rewind a little…
When I first moved back to Florida a handful of years ago, I had a small child I focused my time on instead of jumping back into work, full-force. Instead I chose to freelance (mostly Public Relations type writing) because I need & want to have some sort of paycheck. When my child was in school more full-time and I was coming out of a divorce, it was time. Resumes went out, recruiters were contacted and I began the search.
I loathe interviewing. It’s kind of like one awkward first date after another. It’s total bullshit because the reality is that both sides are on their best behavior and making sure there are no cracks in the facade. Until you are in the trenches you really don’t know how it’s going to go down. I had a bunch of interviews pretty quickly but didn’t love anything. And then, because timing works in mysterious ways, I found something that fit like a glove, and felt familiar and right. So I thanked the other pending opportunities in the wings and signed an offer letter in a matter of days.
I was enthusiastic and hopeful in the beginning. I felt like I made a good decision. But, after several months and some negative experiences, I just didn’t feel as comfortable, didn’t feel as secure and lost that fire I had in the beginning. The Honeymoon period was over for me (less than a year in) and I was crushed. I struggled, had conversations with people I respect, looked for ways to turn it around in my own head and truly didn’t know what to do. I was disillusioned, and could feel myself checking out and turning off.
While I was struggling professionally, to add a whole different layer, I was also struggling with some personalities I also had to deal with there. You should know I have been in PR my whole career, which means I have always been surrounded by a lot women, and have thrived because I am totally a girl’s girl. This is not to paint the picture that I was chummy or grabbing post-work manicures with everyone, but there was always mutual respect. Always. Also, I was also in a sorority so I am no stranger to an abundance of estrogen and mood swings.
But what I wasn’t used to, was not feeling empowered and motivated by women who surrounded me. Instead I was treated to overall nastiness and a barrage of dirty looks on the regular (guys, they were baaaaddd…like to the point that I thought I must have been being filmed for an episode of Punkd), which is not very encouraging. I found myself asking, “Did that really just happen?!” on the regular.
I’m not a kiss ass and I’m not fake, so dealing with women who had a blackbelt in bitchface and staying quiet was a nearly impossible feat. If it were in the wild, I could have (and would have) opened my mouth and called them out, but in the workplace, that would not have gone over well. I was beside myself because the reality was these weren’t JUST looks. They were looks pointing to deep-seeded mentalities that I wanted nothing to do with and I was sick of it.
I 100% just stopped engaging. Kept my head down. Spoke to the few people I had respect for and tried to just go about my day without saying something that would get me fired.
I felt more detached with each day, which had never happened to me at a job before. All of the bullshit that used to make me want to scream, just made me numb. I was basically one frustrating episode away from filleting a fish at my desk like Peter in Office Space.
Meanwhile, because I like to torture myself and take on more than I should, during the whole tenure of my “day job”, I was coming home at night and still churning out freelance work because I had made the decision never to give up those contacts. I said yes to everything I was asked for. It’s dangerous to say “no” to freelance work because eventually they’ll stop asking. I was exhausted and overworked. Plus, my blog was getting so much more attention and I had work to do there. It was just never-ending.
There were two defining moments (other than the fact that I actually had a pang of jealousy every time someone left) that served as the old nail in the coffin for me.
- Every morning on my regular coffee run, I was finding myself literally being envious of the Starbucks barristas, I knew I had a problem. I’m not even kidding. I would watch them and say “Their life must be so great. Sure they have to deal with some real pain in the ass patrons – I mean we are in Boca – but what I wouldn’t give to sling caramel macchiatos all day.”
- Then, another low point was when I had a dream about one of the mean girls. In the dream, when she barked something nasty at me in her entitled bitchy tone, I literally pounced on her, pinned her shoulders down with my knees and told me she would NEVER talk to me that way again.
Yep, that’s how done I was. And let me be clear, neither of these things made for proud moments. They made me cringe actually.
I needed to face reality. I started to really dig into my freelance time/numbers to see where I was. Could I really ditch my day job? Do this full-time? Not be stressed about money (who am I kidding, I could make 3 million dollars a year and I’d still stress about money). Jason and I discussed me leaving, what it would look like, how it would work logistically. And after a few months of me consistently bringing in what was pretty damn close to my full salary, I said, eff it, I’m done.
Although I did realize that my income would most certainly fluctuate, because that’s what freelancing means, the tone and work with my own clients was night and day from what I was experiencing. I was in such a groove with them it felt like the right time to make a bold move.
And thankfully, I have this amazing man who not only loves and supports me, but believes in me. I told him my plan (over and over because I needed to keep saying it out loud to make sure I wasn’t insane) and all he kept saying was “Do it babe! You’ve totally got this. We will figure it out. Don’t worry.”
And so I did. I quit my job. Left behind the idea of a steady paycheck and am taking a risk. Because I know what I want, and what I want is to be my own boss…which is saying a lot because I’m not always so easy. Nobody will ever be harder on me than me.
A while ago, I got this fortune after a chinese food dinner with my parents. It was around the time my blog was growing more rapidly than I thought and I started to question if it could really lead to a different career path for me.
I have kept it in my wallet ever since and just couldn’t throw it away.
And I am taking that big step and I’m excited but definitely afraid. Down right scared, actually. The vomit-inducing kind of scared. But I’m taking the risk because I have to. My home office space is set up, I have a bunch of amazing clients I am thankful for, and I can wake up everyday, drop my daughter at school, and go to work in my yoga pants. I’m literally living the dream, right?
I can also focus on things that have been on my bucket list for too long (like my book).
Thank you to my supporters (and to my haters – you guys are the ones that push me even harder to succeed).
Now let’s get this party started!