I Walked Away From My Job And Toward My Authentic Self
After 7.5 years working for the same company, I’ve seen my fair share of ‘goodbye emails.’ Ones that come very unexpectedly, ones from friends who only days before shared the news of their departure via a hallway conversation, text message or phone call, and ones that seem, well, a little bit suspicious, if you catch my drift. No matter what style of ’departure email’ it’s been, I’ve seen them all. However, I never expected to be writing my own...
When I entered the work force back in 2015, I thought my first job out of college was going to determine the rest of my career path. I was surrounded by people who’d spent decades at this company, sure, transitioning from job to job, team to team, boss to boss and so on, but the common thread remained true - the love for the company and more importantly the people who inhabited it. And for the last 7.5 years I’ve been blessed to share that very experience (and sentiment) surrounded by some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met and had the pleasure of working with and learning from.
However, everything changed back on March 13, 2020. Like everyone else on that fateful day, I heard rumblings of this virus tragically effecting China and other countries overseas but had no idea what that meant for myself, my team, my friends or family over in the states. I had no idea that day would be the start of the most transformative 2.5 years of my life…
Shortly after the pandemic officially reared its ugly head in the states, I decided to drive home to Sacramento, CA from Los Angeles, CA to stay with my mom. At the time I was living in LA by myself while my partner was finishing his MBA in Chicago, IL. It didn’t make sense for me to stay in that apartment all by myself let alone in a city that would soon be ravaged by the pandemic. So I left. I had no intention of making that leave a permanent one but fast forward a handful of months to August 2020, still working from home with no update of our return to office, I made the decision to not renew my lease in Los Angeles, to pack up my belongings, put them on a Uhaul and head up north to Sacramento where I would reside the majority of the pandemic.
I want to preface what I’m about to share by saying in no way does this diminish the pain so many have endured over the last couple of years. We’ve all been through our own spectrum of personal experiences during the pandemic and I will never be able to fathom what others have felt or endured as a result of losing loved ones, jobs, livelihoods and so much more. I can only share my personal experience, which is exactly what I’m about to do and why I’m writing today.
The pandemic propelled me into the life I’d always dreamed of but deemed unattainable. Before the pandemic I was extremely career focused. I went the extra mile in all my work, stayed late, arrived early, worked weekends, nights, all to establish myself as someone worthy of being promoted fast and often. I saw myself climbing the corporate ladder at this dream company and was willing to do whatever it took to get there. I was knocked from the rungs of my ladder not once, not twice but four times when I was rejected from the same role over and over (and over) again despite my peers and leaders providing nothing but rave reviews and the promise of well-deserved recognition for all my hard work.
Like any lifelong athlete, I put my head down and got to work. I took the rejections, the no’s, and let them slide off my shoulders like sweat dripping from my brow after a hard fought match or a particularly challenging workout. The no’s piled up but so did my determination. Each ’no’ merely added kindling to my fire, setting ablaze a dogged determination within my competitive soul.
Would you believe my luck when my hard work and perseverance finally paid off…In January 2020?! I’ve told this story to so many young, impressionable minds seeking career advice and with each re-telling, I still find myself overcome with emotion at this tragic loss. For over four years I worked and worked, I showed up (on time and always prepared), and gave it my all only to be rewarded with my dream job three months before the entire world shut down. Three months before my world would also be turned upside down...
My dream job quickly fizzled and turned into an assignment to work from home in which we no longer knew how to fill our days. How to make the work and the hours between 9am and 5pm seem meaningful. Productive. Full. So much of our effort and energy had been devoted to curating amazing in person experiences, building relationships with others via events, coffee chats and dinner dates and suddenly we were speaking to each other through a computer screen or even smaller phone screen. We were lost souls clinging to the purpose we once felt in our “busy” lives and jobs without the ability to do the things that once jam packed our weekly calendars.
None of us really knew the changes that would continue to wreak havoc on our lives, both personally and professionally, over the course of the next few months and eventually, years. This company I had once seen myself growing old at, morphed into something I no longer recognized. I could no longer clearly see the path up the corporate ladder to my dream career and instead found myself leaning into external elements that once had no room on my calendar due to an overwhelming work schedule depleting me of energy and not to mention time, to find myself outside of that grueling schedule. To find myself outside of my career, my title, my job.
Which is a perhaps long-winded and very verbose way of bringing me to present day. How despite a particularly challenging last few years, I’ve found joy. I’ve found myself, and while that unfortunately no longer aligns to the company I’ve been working for and the jobs I’ve held over the course of the last 7.5 years, I couldn’t be happier.
Since March 2020, I’ve rediscovered the things outside of work that fulfill me. Things that had fallen quite low on my priority list as a result of work commitments. I read 82 books in 2020, I relaunched my personal blog and committed to writing more frequently, I fell in love with at home workouts and building a virtual community of supporters, I started multiple side projects, ‘side hustles’ if you will, I re-learned how to crochet, I fell in love with vintage and antique treasure hunting, I spent quality time with my mom, unlike any time I’d had with her since I was a teenager, and most importantly I redefined myself. Or perhaps just uncovered the version of me who’d been buried under the weight of work commitments for too many years.
I realized I had lost myself in the quest to obtain the best job title or recognition for my hard work. I was defined by that and not who I was, Casey, the person, outside of the big flashy company I worked for and the latest job title I was chasing. I watched numerous coworkers struggle to find purpose and meaning when our workload suddenly got a lot lighter and our weekends were no longer spent bopping around town from event to event. But not me. I leaned into this newfound freedom, one I’d secretly craved for a long time, and spent the next 2.5 years rebuilding the most important relationship, the one with myself.
While I wish I could tell you this soul searching of sorts has been easy, it hasn’t. While I wish I could tell you this deep dive led to a clear illumination of my greater purpose in this life, it hasn’t. While I wish I could tell you I know exactly who I am and where I’m going from here, I don’t and I don’t. However, I am a whole lot closer to figuring it out...
I won’t spend too much time in the weeds of it all but on December 6, 2021 I received an email that rocked me to my core. One I never in my wildest dreams, nay, nightmares, imagined receiving. But that email changed my life. Because of that email I made the decision to continue putting myself, my growth, my development and most importantly my happiness, first and I moved to Austin, Texas, a city I had grown to know and love over the years after a few different visits.
I knew eventually the time would come that I would have to choose between my job and my new city of residence. While I didn’t think it would come quite so soon, I think deep down I always knew the choice - ME. I chose me. I CHOOSE, me. Today I may be walking away from a job at a dream company with absolutely no plans, but I’m finally walking toward my authentic self. The version of me that I’ve worked so hard to foster, to develop and help grow over the last almost three years. The version of me who’s no longer defined by a job title or whatever fancy company she works at but by the things she does that ignite her world and light her up. Over the last few years I’ve realized what’s most important to me and for that reason I’m choosing to step into the great unknown. I’m choosing to do something I rarely do and take a risk. And you know what? It’s pretty darn terrifying but boy does it feel good.
I’ve been reunited with my authentic self and together we’re stepping into a season of our wildest power, strength and confidence. We’re going to try new things, explore paths not yet taken, say ‘yes‘ because I can (hello fun-employment!), and even see how it feels to be a solo-preneur. The road to get here wasn’t easy, gosh no. FAR from it. It was filled with tears, so many tears, anger, frustration, confusion, uncertainty, did I mention tears?? But, truly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful for the trials and tribulations I’ve endured because they’ve brought me to this point, to this person, this human I’m finally so proud of and who deserves more. And I finally feel like I’m ready to find ‘more,’ right here in my new home in Austin, Texas…