It’s been two months since I quit my job and I don’t regret it in the least. I had to know what life was like on the other side. Although it is hard and there are many challenges to overcome, the struggle is worth it and the desire/the hunger to make my living writing grows every single day. I see now that there is no turning back; back to working for someone else’s dreams, back to putting up with the nine to five, and all of the baggage, implicit or explicit, that comes along with it.

I recently attended an event being put on by my students at my old job and it was wonderful. It was truly student-led and filled with great conversations. I got to see all of my ex-co-workers, give hugs, chat a bit and awkwardly try to answer the question, what have you been doing? Answering that question can be so difficult and tedious at times because it’s so hard to explain. But I try and say that I’ve been writing, reading, and taking care of myself, spiritually and mentally. What more can I say really? It’d take forever, otherwise.

As I walked around the room though, I saw in many of my coworkers in exhaustion, suffocation, and feelings of I’m keeping too much in. Although I am still figuring out a great deal in this new journey, I am content and at peace. I no longer live my life according to what other people expect. I no longer ask for permission, except God. I no longer silence myself so that others can be comfortable. I no longer wonder what if I had…XYZ, you fill in the blank. I no longer have to experience microaggressions and soul-sucking attacks from people who claim to have my best interest at hand.

I now look myself in the mirror and respect who I see. I respect myself for leaving my job and choosing to put me first, especially when nobody else thought I was important enough to do the same. I respect myself for speaking up and standing for my values and what I believe in, even if it cost me the approval of the leadership team. I gained so much more. I respect myself for choosing to love myself first for real this time.

Walking away from my steady job to some may seem like it was the wrong choice. But why is it that we find it acceptable for any of us to stay in a job, that takes more from us than it gives? To spend time around people who only see us as objects, which so easily replaceable? Or to work with individuals who belittle and abuse us with their words on a daily basis?

I knew if I stayed in that environment, that toxicity would transfer into other parts of my life and to those around me. So I made the decision to leave, with no job offer but with enough of myself to begin healing. Healing from the secondary trauma from a student’s death, from the accumulation of the daily microaggressions, and sexual harassment, healing from my dreams deferred, healing from the verbal abuse and daily disrespect. Too often, we as Black women put off healing ourselves from the daily scabs that we’ve accumulated; but it is in the healing that I’ve found freedom, peace, and joy. It is in the healing that I’ve found that I would rather love who I am and who I am becoming. So won’t you start your healing journey and find out what the other side is like?