KNOWING WHEN TO WALK AWAY
I quit my job a few days ago.
Well, let me back up a little bit. I was asked about two months ago what I was passionate about. I didn't give much thought to choosing my answer because I figured whatever comes out of my mouth first is what's real. My answer was Black... I'm most passionate about being Black. Now, my answer may change as I get older and fully come into my own and purpose but it would only become more specific, the root is the same. I explained my answer to the effect that I'm passionate about my race, our representation and the defense of our humanity. Our fight to be recognized and regarded as people and not stereotypes, not physique, not athletic prowess, not statistics and not perpetual threats is what I'm currently building my career around in politics and media. So when I got the opportunity to join a democratic senatorial candidate campaign I jumped at the opportunity because our community being a political priority is one of the first steps to breaking down the institutional racism that we fall victim to so often. When I first started everything was great, I put on my business attire and my "telephone voice" and was right at home pretending to be Olivia Carolyn Pope minus the white peen and then something happened...
John Crawford happened.
Mike Brown, Jr. happened.
Ezell Ford happened.
Darrien Hunt happened.
and Charles Smith happened.
Following the execution of Mike Brown and the shooting of a personal friend by St. Louis police during the protests that followed I was in a very fragile state, one that I wasn't used to. I experienced a panic attack for the first time. I wasn't taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually but I would walk into work everyday looking good on the surface. Every day I felt more and more drained. I'd wake up dreading the day ahead because deep down I knew that the day was going to take another piece of me that I wasn't getting back anytime soon. I wasn't able to figure out what exactly was eating away at me until I was automatically forwarded a fundraising e-mail seeking 50k in one weekend. That's when I stopped denying that I worked for someone who is depending on Black people to put them in office but isn't willing to speak on our behalf, that's f*cked up ain't it? I was taken back to the panic attack I had in the parking lot knowing that I couldn't be visibly upset at work because the murders of our collective brothers and sons wasn't openly on anyone's radar - not even at the water cooler.
The only reason I was still working there is because it was a great opportunity but that isn't enough and it will never be. I put my resume before my happiness and well-being. Something can't be good for you if it's not good to you, that's universal. My morality wouldn't let me serve a cause that wouldn't serve my people. So I quit. It's too early to know if I'll regret my decision but that night I slept like a baby, no tossing, turning or nightmares that had become the new norm for me. I credit my decision to discernment, my job literally disrupted my spirit. I made an emotional decision that was the least bit rational but I'm so glad I did it. Quitting my job was my first assertion of womanhood. My first real adult decision to take a more assertive approach to my success and well being. I don't encourage anyone to walk away from income but I do advocate for protecting your peace of mind, dreams and motivations fiercely. I see my decision as me making room for the opportunity that will continue to nurture me, challenge me and bring me closer to the woman and professional I aspire to.
I understand one of my favorite quotes so much more: “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy." ANYTHING that no longer serves you, grown you or makes you happy. This is not exclusive to the workplace, it applies to friends, family, schools, cities and especially main squeezes.
In the beginning I didn't respect myself as the woman I am right now because I was so caught up in who I want to be a year from now and five years after that. I was willing to sacrifice myself for the idealized version of Clair. Now that I'm writing it out, my logic made zero sense. The first law of nature is self-preservation. How I expect to be this mover and shaker when I'm not willing to rock the boat, speak my mind and make tough decisions is backward. So I did my future self a favor by not pimping her out to the highest bidder. I know she'll thank me one day.
Free yourself. Protect yourself. Feed yourself. Feed your dream. No matter what, it has to be better than Rent 'em Spoons.