On my 27th birthday I sat alone in my room and cried. I wrote in my journal:
Today is my 27th birthday. I have cried every day since the end of October. And yet, I am loved and love so much. So many wonderful people in my life, so much support and inspiration, and yet I cannot stop crying. I am so unhappy in the core of me and no one’s love can fix it – only my own.
I wrote a list of the things I would do in my 27th year. The first one, ‘Quit my job.’ I had been wanting to quit since May but I couldn’t. I didn’t have a permanent job lined up yet. How could I quit my job, I needed to be responsible, I needed to take care of myself. Girl’s gotta pay her bills. I just needed to grin and bear it, connect with my inner Brit.
In May, my manager and I had come into conflict regarding my personal – professional reputation, and I did not feel I could trust her, nor could I comfortably express myself in the office. She said in one of our 1-to-1 catch ups, “You need to watch what you’re saying more. This is a corporate office. You can’t make jokes about feminist toilets. I heard you making poop jokes. What if the Director heard you!” And then she added, “But not in a Big Brother way.”
Obviouslyyyy, I know this is a valid piece of feedback. I mean, it was a corporate work environment, hence why I’m avoiding that for a while, but I can’t help the way it made me feel. She became Big Sister, sitting a few feet from me 35 hours a day listening to everything I said. I could not breathe. I stopped talking altogether, plugging in my headphones, and listening to self-development podcasts. Every day, I played “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton and chuckled. Every day I shrank smaller and smaller inside myself. I lost all the things I love about myself, my enthusiasm, my creativity, my sense of humor.
I began applying for other jobs, but when six months had passed, and I still had not received an offer, it became too much. Eventually I had to listen to my body. When you cry before work, at work, and after work for two days in a row, it’s time. I knew that If I did nothing, I would have a break down… I could see it clearly, I almost wanted it to happen, my parents to come and rescue me, to go home to my bed with my dogs and do whatever would make my parents happy, would make society happy.
Instead, I chose my own happiness and I will never ever regret it.
Here’s three pieces of advice that I learned the hard way:
- People quit all the time. It is perfectly standard to give four weeks notice. Hell, you can even give less than four weeks. Do not worry about what they will do if you quit. There is a process. Anyway, it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.
- A job is a consensual and mutually beneficial agreement between two parties. You give your time, energy, and thought to a corporation for a agreed amount of time on an set of tasks. If your job role begins to affect your non-contracted [personal] time or if you begin to feel like you are not able to do your best work, then it is time to renegotiate. Do not wait, like I did, until it becomes unbearable. Take preventative action. Stand up for yourself because no one else will and no one else can.
- You are replaceable. If you don’t want that job, someone else does. Someone else would love your job and appreciate the opportunity. Instead, figure out what “makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Thanks Howard Thurman for that gem. But yea, go come alive! That’s what I’m trying to do.