It’s been eleven months since I quit my job, gave up high heels and owning a Louis Vuitton (in the immediate future).

I still get butterflies thinking about it, but thankfully my heart palpitations have stopped. On September 16, 2015 I sat in my office with the door shut—shaking and crying. I prayed to God to help me make the right decision as I caught my breathe and frantically starting packing up my office. I packed with the urgency of someone trying to escape a serial killer. I would like to say I never looked back, but it’s something I think about everyday.

There were quite a few things that finally made me snap, but the last straw was realizing I was worth more than the way I was being treated. I knew if I didn’t fight for my self-worth I was in danger of losing it for good. I had no back-up plan, no savings and nothing left to lose. I didn’t even call my husband, I just pulled the trigger.

I was terrified.

In the beginning I thought this was my dream job, I was 25 years old, college graduate and no one had ever offered that high of a salary. I came from a small advertising agency and I walked into a position that many people wait their whole lives to start. I was, in a nut-shell, an advertising agency of one for one of the largest healthcare companies in the state of New Mexico and I was jumping for joy.

The executives pretended to be my friends, they brought me in right away at their level and I loved being a part of a large team. It didn’t take long to discover how terribly they treated the people they did not favor. They covered up their curse words with flower arrangements and competed against one another with designer handbags. They spent 60% of their day in “meetings,” which translated into three-figure lunches and the other 40% of their day not at work at all.

The mind games started fairly quickly—it was a mixture of compliments and cruelty. One minute I was the best thing to ever happen to the organization and “yes, please” sign the million-dollar advertising bill. The next minute, I was the gum beneath their stilettos, for no reason at all. The company culture was shock-value and I felt the life draining out of me.

I became erratic at home, taking out my stress that I couldn’t show at work, on the people I loved most. I was a miserable person that was only consoled by retail therapy and anxiety pills. I started popping three-four anxiety pills a day and working towards my next large purchase. I needed a new status-symbol daily to help build my armor against the designer bullies. I was silently drowning in my own work-induced hell.

I knew something had to change, but for so long I couldn’t see a flicker, let alone a light at the end of the tunnel.

In August 2015, I was finally asked to do to much; I was asked to falsify tax documents, to lie if questioned by authorities and to turn a blind eye to the full out bitch-fits that were thrown on a daily basis by the executives. My second to last day at the organization, I was literally backed into a corner. I was in the office of one of the managers, when she and her assistant, closed the door and threatened my life if I said a cross word about them to my supervisor. I was informed of their “connections” and told that if I wouldn’t speak if I knew what was good for my car breaks. After I left her office, I called my supervisor and she admitted she knew this was how they treated their fellow employees. I had no support and I knew I could no longer fear for my career, my reputation or worse, my life.

In my time at this company I learned who I was, what I could put up with and more importantly my self worth. I discovered that I will stand up for my morals, no matter what the cost and that I can say, “no” when it really counts.

Since I quit my job I have went through the stages of grief as I found myself again.

  1. I cried. I cried so many tears, you would have thought I had experienced one of the worst deaths of my life. I was inconsolable about quitting a job, because I had never quit anything in my life. I had never left a position without resigning and being a good little girl, who gave her two-weeks notice.
  2. I felt guilty and blamed myself. I second guessed my decision and blamed myself for how other people treated me. I stopped wearing high heels daily, that I had literally lived in my entire life, and discovered the joy of yoga pants.
  3. I missed my staff. I missed the people terribly that had done no wrong to me and that were still “stuck” working for jackasses.
  4. I got mad. The turning point for me that brought me out of every self-pitying cry session, was that I was angry. I let the bullies get the best of me and tell me how to feel. I realized that the longer I stayed upset the more I gave them a hold on me.
  5. I got even. Within three days of quitting my job, I had four job interviews and a coffee date with a former vendor I had worked with at the organization. During the time that I was going on the job interviews, I started doing freelance work for the vendor and then referrals just kept coming in. Before I knew it, I had accidentally started my own business.

Over the past year, I have started my own digital branding agency. I have paved my own path and it has been the most freeing feeling in the world. I no longer have a “boss” in anyway shape or form of the word. I realize now, more than ever, that I have always been my own “boss” and it took quitting my job to see it.