Why I Decided to Leave My Successful Six-Figure Job for Something Better
Here’s a hint: it’s very personal…
In order to fully tell this story I need to go back a little, to a time about six years ago when I was just starting my public relations consulting business and I learned something VERY important about myself. I was fresh out of the agency world and, by taking a huge leap to do my own thing, I had tapped into a new unbound potential inside of me that I had never felt before — and it was oh so magical. At the time I was just rolling with it, feeling excited and somewhat intoxicated but as I look back I see that it was me following my heart, my truth, my purpose and going against what may be considered the “right” thing to do in pursuit of becoming who I was destined to be.
This was a big move for a 29-year-old (or at least it was for me!), I was betting on myself and the talent I had developed over the years to be able to sustain myself independently working on clients that I was personally attracted to, having the freedom to use my intuition to create and build connections between them and the public. I put myself out there in my truest form. I was afraid and I did it anyways. I stepped over the fear and learned how to trust my instincts and honor my integrity. And right out the gate I was successful. How did I measure this so-called success? Well, I was happy. By that barometer, I was deeply happy/successful and ended up attracting unbelievable clients who became so much more than just a monthly retainer, they inspired and drove me to become even better in my career.
A big part of the self-discovery that happened when I went out on my own and became a consultant was that I really flourished in the freedom. I’m so sensitive (both emotionally and physically) that I used to have to take a shower after work to wash away other people’s energies that I had absorbed throughout the day. Seriously, it’s a thing. While some people can’t stand working from home, I loved it. No distractions. I was extremely motivated and driven and had my daily routine on lock, I would wake up, maybe go dance in the park, hit up the cafe near my house, check my email and make a to-do list over tea and breakfast, come home and crush it for the next three or four hours straight. Then that was it. I was done. I stepped away from my computer. I knew my limits and had the confidence to trust that the work I was doing was worth every penny my clients were paying me (and more!) This led me to be able to spend ample time doing other things that I loved like creating and writing for Refinery29, building legit relationships with professional peers, taking impromptu road trips (and spa days!) and spending time with friends — which in turn inspired and fulfilled me.
Then something major happened, which I truly believe was a gift delivered to me through my happiness. One of my clients, Poshmark — a startup I launched into the market in 2011 — started getting big, like REALLY big. The work we were doing together was beyond anything I could have imagined for myself. Any professional goal I had, I achieved it alongside them: figuring out tough messaging and positioning, coming up with creative PR campaigns and strategies, quick execution to deliver consistent daily media placements, establishing leadership and breaking away from a slew of competitors, coverage in all the majors i.e. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, etc. Honestly, at this time in my life, this client was made for me — it combined fashion and technology, both industries I had experience in, and the leadership team was so down to earth it was unreal. They completely got me. And I did a damn good job developing and telling their story. It was such a good fit, we danced around me coming in house for a good portion of the first two years working together. But I was strong in my conviction to not give up my freedom and risk my happiness which I knew was imperative to my success.
But in the end, I had to make a decision. I knew that I wanted to take this company from unknown fashion app to a massive social commerce company that was capable of becoming a billion dollar business. In order to do this, they needed all my attention and I wanted to give it to them. Even though I knew a somewhat corporate, office environment was not best suited for me, I believed that I could fully commit to this project. I wanted to. I knew it would be a little bit of a compromise on both sides but they respected me as an individual and never tried to stifle my independence. They truly understood me and that’s probably the reason that we were such a good match. A big lesson I’ve learned about myself in the past five years is that when I am passionate about something, I will give my everything to it. I will immerse myself so deeply inside it that we essentially become one. This could be considered a strength or weakness, depending on the situation. So I gave my everything to Poshmark and we killed it. Oh man, did we do some great work. I am so proud of what we created together. The company has grown to over 130 people from the handful that were there when we started (most of whom are still there) and they are continuing their high-growth trajectory at five years in. It’s pretty impressive.
So why did I leave and how did I know that I was done? Well, let’s get back to that headline. Being in a very secure space where I was valued both emotionally and professionally, over the past two years or so I have undergone a huge housecleaning. While I have done A LOT of work on myself over the past 8 ½ years (sobriety shout-out!), there was still a little locked room inside me filled to the brim with parts of myself and my past that I hadn’t really dealt with. Let’s just call it Casa de Shamesville. It’s small, dark, and messy. A place I’m sure you’ve all been to, not really a place you want to vacation and definitely not somewhere you’d want to call home. I was in a safe, loving relationship and had a stable, fulfilling job which allowed me the secure foundation to address some very personal, very deep issues that have been keeping parts of me small and hidden for my entire life. They came up around readying for motherhood but honestly it could have been anything related to my femininity. They’ve been dying to be exposed. While I don’t think we’re ever “done” growing I do believe this past year I was faced with one of the last big frontiers of what has been holding me back from being completely free in my life. As I dove in head first, I was so scared and that intense fear brought about a serious depression which was then met with lots of therapy. I’ve always been a hard worker (when motivated) and feel very confident in my masculine, alpha career-driven self. My feminine, woman, body has had a tougher time in her 35 years. Her self-worth was now forced into the spotlight and it was not as shiny and bright as other parts of myself.
During this process, my relationship to my work changed. I grabbed onto my job with all my might, because that became the one place where I could clearly see my value. I had worth, look at all my results. People needed me. I had power. In this desperate, complicated inner experience I was lost and spinning. Overwhelmed by it all, I shut myself in the small locked room and abandoned the things that were important to me: love, friends, writing, dance, creating, exploring and most of all my freedom. I could feel it closing in on me. My body hurt ALL THE TIME. Self-care was not a luxury, it became a necessity for survival. My relationship suffered. In fact, all my relationships suffered. Especially the one with myself.
As I started to peel back the layers to understand exactly what I was coming up against inside of me and the self-love needed to move through this thick, muddy, sticky past pain that had a hold (err, grip) on my heart, I began to see how everything that was happening was not a bad thing but was actually a channel to my transformation. That I could actually become better and stronger and more compassionate through this experience. Before all this started, I was pretty fucking awesome. Wait, I could be better? I could have MORE empathy? I began to joke that the intense pain I was feeling in between my shoulders from the baggage I’ve been carrying was where my butterfly wings were coming in. I’m not sure my therapist thought it was that funny but I can’t help but smile when I think of it. I knew that a big clearing was happening and I needed space. I was compressed so tight in my body, in a constant state of fight or flight, holding on for dear life. I began manifesting and meditating around creating space.
At work, I was now in the office 4–5 days a week all day and felt like a Mack Truck hit me at the end of every day. I didn’t feel creative or driven in what I was doing. It was like I was just checking things off a list. I was not honoring my boundaries. I knew I needed space. As I began voicing my needs out loud, it became clear that I needed to get into action. I started coming in the office only a few hours a day and working from home the rest of the time. What happened after that really stunned me. When I wasn’t in the office, I didn’t want to work. It’s not that I was lazy, I sat in my home office and worked but I didn’t WANT to. That was a huge shift. In the past, I was so committed to what I was doing that you couldn’t yank me away from reaching my goals. It became very clear that my priorities had shifted. My body still hurt. I was out of sync with my happiness, my purpose, my truth. Then like a lightening bolt one day it arose from deep within. Something I’d been circling around for months. The clarity was undeniable. It was warm and soft and washed over my entire body and spirit. It was a radical act of self love. It was time to close this chapter and open up a different part of me that wants to be shared with the world.
In the end, I know I have accomplished everything I’ve wanted to do at Poshmark over the last five years. Now I need to create space for whatever is coming up inside of me. It’s deep and strong and needs to be expressed. For the past ten years I’ve been helping other people communicate their dreams. Now it’s my turn. Through this challenging year of self-discovery and overcoming fears that are holding me back, the woman inside of me is ready to come forward and she’s got something to say. She wants to touch, feel and see you. But most of all, she wants you to know her.