“You wanna fly, you’ve got to give up the shit that weighs you down” Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
ME: Umm….I am putting in my two weeks notice (swallows hard in disbelief at what I just said)
My Manager: Oh (with a surprised look) Did you find something else?
ME: No. (staring at her blankly)
My Manager: Oh, OK. Well, what are you going to do?
ME: I am not happy here, so I am moving to NC to be closer to my family. (I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s done.)
This conversation is one I’d never thought I’d have-EVER! I just gave my two-weeks notice to my current employer, and I did not have another job lined up, not even an interview. I went against the one piece of career advice I had always been given, and it something I vowed I’d never do. However it had to be done, and I was at peace with my decision. How was I able to take this leap of faith and walk away from security and stability?
My present couldn’t be my future
I wasn’t happy plain and simple. I was over-worked, underpaid, and stressed out more than I had ever been before. The longer I stayed, the more I adjusted to “this life”. I always justified it with “I have a steady income, benefits, and weekends off!” However, I woke up dreading going to work, spent the day trying to balance an impossible workload and discussing with co-workers both of the aforementioned topics. I left work mentally drained, and still logged on most nights to work another 2-3 hours. I had been pushed to the edge and knew I couldn’t continue to live “this life”. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I wanted to make Speak Away the Stigma a Non-Profit and increase Mental Health and Mental Illness Awareness. This job allowed me to do neither. I felt if I didn’t make some changes, my present would be future.
My Only Obligation: ME
Being single, childless and 35 years old has its perks, despite what society has you to believe. I had mixed feelings about making this move, but a co-worker said to me “You are doing what the rest of us can’t. Most of us have mortgages and children-major obligations. You don’t have that! Go do what is best for you! You have a solid work history, you are leaving on your terms I have no doubt you will find a good job in Carolina.” I was grateful for this reminder. I needed this reminder. While I do have a car note and I’m not completely debt free, I knew that if I didn’t follow through with my decision NOW, I never would.
I Prepared Financially & Mentally
I made a list on the notepad app in my phone of reasons why I was quitting and making this move. I knew I needed this list easily accessible during my moments of uncertainty. I prepared myself to be unemployed for 2-3 weeks and 4-6 weeks without a paycheck. I saved my money, increased my overtime, limited my days off so I could be paid out for unused vacation days, and put myself on a strict budget. Preparing myself mentally was a bit more difficult, especially as I explored the job market in my hometown. My sister was OK with me taking over her couch, and I was OK with not having my own space. I saw this as a necessary sacrifice because my rent was my largest bill. Whenever I thought about ditching the idea, staying put and finding another job that had a comparable salary I looked back at the list I made of the reasons why I needed to quit. At the top of the list: I am not happy and I deserve to be; Second on my list: Your family needs you and you need them.
While I know everyone isn’t capable of such a drastic move, baby steps are possible. Think about where you would like to be in 5 or 10 years. Be honest about the changes that need to take place with yourself and your lifestyle and the changes you are able to make. I found it helpful to set a date and enlist the support of someone I trusted. Be prepared for not everyone to support your changes, and some may even criticize you, but that is when you look back at the list of reasons you are making the change. Hopefully, your own happiness and peace of mind will be number one as well.
Chrissie K has learned that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and mental health is just as important as physical health. She hopes to increase awareness and erase the stigma, especially in the Black community, by sharing her own story and encouraging others to share theirs. Chrissie K started Speak Away the Stigma last year, to promote mental illness awareness.
Twitter: @SPEAKawaySTIGMA @iamChrissie_k
FB: Speak Away the Stigma