I quit my job last month without a plan. In the time since, there have been some changes, with a number of realizations and some self discovery along the way.
Last March, I had four, no five jobs, three email accounts, too many social media accounts to keep track of, worked at least several hours every day, seven days a week. I was almost never not working and I definitely wasn’t making enough money to justify all the work.
And then Covid shut everything down.
As I began to peel off jobs, I realized I liked having my evenings and weekends free. I started noticing exactly how much of what I did was free labor – not just as a wife and mother, which is a full time job in free labor, but in all my jobs, particularly real estate. I began to think more and more about just walking away from it, although having sunk so much time, energy and money into having a real estate license, I didn’t want to make a hasty decision. But sometimes in its grand wisdom, the universe sends messages loud and clear, leaving you absolutely no doubt what it is you should do.
As it turns out, I have way more morals than I realized, although quite a few of you claim to have known this about me. I’m also kinda badass at forging my way through life by just my very being, often referred to as “Being Becky”. I make things happen by sheer willpower. If you’ve known me long enough, you’ve seen this happen. I had forgotten about that ability somewhere along the way, which I know sounds strange, but it’s true. I had lost sight of a few things about myself in recent years.
Like so many other things the pandemic has pointed out, I slowly came to realize that the good ole boys club that was my office life had worn me down. I was feeling fairly irrelevant thanks to all that goes with being a 51 year old woman who was also facing the delayed-a-year-but-still-happening-empty nest when I was actually told how I didn’t matter by a now former male co-worker.
That was not my reason for quitting though. That was just a realization I came to after the fact – that the level of sexism and misogyny I dealt with on a daily level as the sole woman in the office had become invisible to me. No, the reason I showed myself out was something completely different, an incident I found so incredibly beyond the pale on multiple levels I found myself physically ill with the idea that my name could be associated in any way.
It was telling though, when I did tell people exactly why I quit.
There are behaviors that only white men and women get away with in this society and even when we proclaim to be supportive of other women and people of color, when a white man does something profoundly shitty and stupid, people rush to excuse him. Pro tip: if another person, particularly a white male, does something that you find yourself wanting to question his motives in order to excuse it, just don’t. Stop there. Sit with that discomfort. Because that’s where the work is in standing with others, whether they be Black, Asian, LBGTQ, fellow women, ANYONE who is being marginalized. And whatever you do, don’t dismiss the actions as ‘well, that’s how he is’. Don’t look for excuses to dismiss it (‘maybe he was having a bad day’ or ‘maybe he was drinking?’) or worse, just look the other way, pretending to not see the bad behavior. Because when you do that, when you excuse the behavior, you condone it. You become complicit in it, full stop. Stop giving white people, particularly, white men, a pass for what would be appalling behavior in anyone else. Arrogance should not be confused for respectability.
Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah. So the afternoon I packed my desk up, I just so happened to already have plans to go help my friend Gail feed baby goats. That turned out to be absolute kismet, because it was truly what I needed in that moment – some alone time in the car, baby goats, a bottle of rose and some straight talk to set me right from a wise woman I get to call friend.
It’s not just Gail that helped me sort myself out – I am rich in friends who were unwaveringly supportive, who helped remind me of who I am. I don’t even begin to know how to thank some of you. It was through my friends that I found myself accepting a job on the last day of the month that had unexpectedly begun with me quitting my job, unplanned, on the first day. April was A LOT.
It was a lot of gardening. A lot of girlfriend time. A few trips to the goat farm. A lot of “conversations” which apparently is the new lingo for job interviews. A lot of thinking time.
My new office has an Audre Lorde quote that spoke to me the first time I laid eyes on it. Although the best part of my new office might just be that one of the restrooms has a Riot Grrrls theme. Every single day I read this flyer:
Burn down the walls that say you can’t. Be a dork, tell your friends you love them. Recognize empathy and vulnerability as positive forms of strength.(Resist the internalization of capitalism, the reducing of people + oneself to commodities meant to be consumed.) Resist psychic death (Don’t allow the world to make you into a bitter abusive asshole). Cry in Public. Acknowledge emotional violence as real. Decide that you’d rather be happy than right all the time. (Believe people when they tell you they are hurting or are in pain.) TRUST.
It is a far cry from being the only woman in an office who would put tampons in strategic places to keep some of her male coworkers from going through her things. The new job itself is working for women to help other women live their best lives. I’m the office admin, bottom of the totem pole so to speak and yet, it’s a dream job with a dream organization. I’m still pinching myself I managed to pull off this latest reinvention of myself.
Of course, some of you already knew this about me, sort of like the morals.