I’ve always considered myself a strong, positive and confident person. But I once found myself in a job that made me question who I was and every decision I’d ever made. I was in this job for a total of eight months. Five of those months were a blur anxiety and tears. I was just barely hanging on. But in February 2017, I left. I gave up my income for my sanity and my marriage. I left with no opportunities lined up and no idea from where money was going to come. And, my husband and I have never once regretted that decision.
What life was like before I decided to leave my job
I was beside myself when I accepted this job. It was a dream job for me. However, I was stressed, overwhelmed and overworked within a couple months. And I chalked it up as normal stresses of starting a new job. I’d been in stressful jobs before, but the stress wasn’t prolonged like this.
I became so anxious that I’d wake at 4 a.m. with a racing heart. I’d lie there thinking of all the things waiting for me in the office that I couldn’t possibly complete that day. I’d cry getting ready for work. I’d walk into the garage to get into my car, then come back in, sobbing in my husband’s arms. I’d cry on my commute and in my office.
I felt like I was no longer in control at this point in my life. Everything was spiraling. Work was so busy that I’d skip lunch nearly every day. I was mentally and physically exhausted when my day was done. I saw my friends less, which certainly didn’t help my happiness. I’d neglect the little things that made me feel confident or like myself. My unhappy, miserable state led to explosive fights with my husband. I was so incredibly unhappy, and it was spilling over into our home life. And, the constant stress was taking a toll on our relationship.
It felt like the only days I had to live life were Saturday and Sunday. So, I wanted to go, go, go on the weekends. My husband told me more than a couple times that I could leave my job – that’d we’d be okay, and we’d figure it out. But leaving with no other opportunity lined up was simply not an option for me. That was preposterous. I had to figure out how to deal with this job. “I needed to stick it out for at least a year because, surely, it would get better.”
So, I prayed. I prayed for positivity and encouragement. I prayed for Him to show me what to do. Every time I hit a low, I’d suddenly realize a message of encouragement. And, I’d write that message on our bathroom mirror. I did this for months, and I’d change the message every week or two. I was hanging by a thread, but those bathroom mirror messages kept the thread from breaking.
What led to my decision to leave my job
One thought that came to me in my prayers was that I needed to see a doctor. I figured I needed to be on anxiety medication. I thought there had to be something wrong with me since I was having this reaction to a new job.
It took me a month to finally make my doctor’s appointment. (Again, I put off doing things for myself, so I made the appointment over my Christmas vacation.) The doctor told me I should consider looking for another job if mine was so stressful, and she gave me a short-term medication to help with my anxiety. That medication gave my husband and I big scare three days later.
A few days after starting the medication, I woke up at 4 a.m. with horrible stomach pain. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. As I walking back to bed, I became incredibly weak and got cold sweats. The last thing I remember was going down to the floor.
My husband said he heard me make two thumps on my way down. He thought I was having a seizure when he got to me. He said I was out of it and unresponsive. I quickly came to, and within 10 minutes I was fine. (My poor hubby! He was traumatized.) What the HECK had happened? I recalled that stomach issues were a side effect of my medication. (I stopped the meds immediately, obviously.) I visited my doctor, and she concluded that the stomach pain was, indeed, caused by the meds. She said the pain must have been so severe that it caused me to pass out.
A sudden realization stopped me in my tracks a day or two after my fainting incident. I was walking through the living room when I thought, “This is why I had to get on anxiety medication. I’ve never needed the meds. The meds were to give me perspective.” I realized that I needed to get on that medication to realize I had to leave that job. I needed to realize I wasn’t the problem. Otherwise, I was going to continue making every excuse for why I should stay. I’ll never forget that moment. It sent chills up my body, and I remember standing there, completely still, in awe. I said a quick, thankful prayer and instantly decided I would start looking for jobs.
The moment I decided to leave my job
I did the math to see if we could afford me leaving my job after starting my job search. It would be tight, but it’d be doable. So, I finally knew it was realistic. I just wasn’t ready to take the plunge. I went back to work after Christmas saying nothing about my incident. I did, however, walk into my boss’s office in tears one morning because things were so overwhelming. I told her, “the stresses of unemployment are more appealing than this job right now.” I had no idea that I’d turn in my resignation two weeks later.
Stress and unhappiness did not waver even though I was looking for other opportunities. It was a Saturday night, and my husband and I were in the middle of one of those explosive, gut-wrenching arguments in our bedroom. I slammed my glass of ice water down on the floor in a state of rage. Ice, water and glass went everywhere. My husband offered to help clean it up, but I told him I could do it. After he walked out, I sat there on our bedroom floor, picking up glass and ice, with tears streaming down my face. And, in that moment my mind was made up. I said to myself aloud, “I have to leave.” For the sake of my happiness and my marriage, I was going to leave my job.
My husband was lying on the couch, so I climbed on top of him and gave him my news. I was going to turn in my resignation Monday, in two days. It was 10pm, but we got dressed and went to a sports bar to drink beer and watch football.
How we planned for me not having an income
I gave a month’s notice with my resignation. I wanted to give my company ample time to find my replacement, but I also wanted to make sure I could get at least two more paychecks. Leading up to my departure, we made some adjustments to our bills and drastically cut back spending. We’d done well at putting money into our savings account, but we wanted to boost it as much as we could in the next month. You never think that you’re going to get in a pickle and need that savings account. And, man, were we glad that we’d diligently been building it.
We had no idea what the future would hold. I had no career opportunities lined up, and we didn’t know when or where from my future income would come. There were no more expensive dinner dates out. There were no random shopping trips or expensive excursions to be had. But it didn’t matter. None of that mattered. I was happy again. We were happy again.
How I transitioned to freelancing
I half-heartedly applied for jobs in the month leading up to my departure. I continued to apply for jobs after my departure. But, my heart wasn’t in it. I was burned out on the corporate world, and this latest job had me hesitant to join it again.
I’d always wanted to freelance, but the idea seemed scary. I realized, though, that I wasn’t intrigued by full-time positions because my heart really wanted to try my hand at freelancing. So, I did. I landed my first client about a month after leaving my job.
I now do freelance copywriting, communications and marketing, but it’s no walk in the park. I’m still finding my way, and I’m forever grateful for such a strong, supportive husband. Of course, I’d never have been able to leave my job without a new one first if it weren’t for him. I honestly don’t know if I would have left when I did without his early words of encouragement. He told me we’d be okay, and we were. We are.
I share this story because I know I am not alone in feeling the way I did in my job. I share this story because it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was praying, getting answers and following God’s path for me. It was the first time that I took a true leap of faith. When I think back, I didn’t pray when accepting that job offer. I just took it because I thought it was what I wanted. But, perhaps it was never meant for me. Perhaps the entire journey was to teach me how to truly have faith – to trust. Perhaps I needed to learn that happiness is more important than money. That happiness isn’t in money. And, let me tell you – lessons learned.