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How I Quit My 9-5 Job, Survived A Breakdown and Started My Own Business

In January 2019 I received my last guaranteed pay check. With that I walked away from a high salary job I had spent three university degrees and the last 12 years of my life working towards. A job that I loved. It was single handedly the hardest and easiest decision of my life. My soul just couldn't bear the weight of another single day working in a toxic environment. 

peg board with the words coffee and then the world

It wasn't a snap decision. I had tried, in denial, to push through what was happening to ignore daily micro-aggressions and the sinking feeling that my 'dream job' was in fact a nightmare. The job itself wasn't the problem, it was the environment surrounding it. A hierarchical environment based on greed and fear isn't ever going to let you grow. 

I had always wanted to be an academic, I thrive on knowledge and discovery plus being able to pass on your knowledge felt like a blessing. I have a PhD, my title is Dr, it all sounds very impressive and I guess it is, that pursuit for knowledge. However I soon became aware that universities were being ran like businesses, the need for growth, growth for growths sake was all encompassing. It soon started to overshadow everything we did, soon learning and teaching were pushed aside in order to let this hungry beast grow. 

I was ashamed to admit for a long time, but it broke me. It broke people around me. I was depressed with sky-high anxiety until one day it all got too much. January 2018 I left half way through work one day and went home where I sank onto the bathroom floor and couldn't get up again. If my husband hadn't been there that day to scrape me up this story could have had a very different ending. I felt like I was drowning. He held me up and shouted at me, you have to fight and fight I did. 

My hands are shaking as I type this, still. It was not an easy fight, it was raw and dirty. It was excruciatingly lonely. It took me a whole year to even get well enough to be in the right state of mind to be able to decide if I should go back to work or not. Two years later I am still picking up pieces of myself, trying to figure out who I am and where my place in the world is. Academia was my entire life, it was part of me and without it I was lost. 

Natalie looking thoughtful sitting in a park wearing sunglasses and a blue and white check dress

The saving grace when you feel like you have nothing left to loose, you are in a unique position that no matter what you do will be an improvement. If you are at the bottom then you can't fall even further. And with that any fear of failure went out the window. I took everything I had been conditioned to believe and disposed of it in pursuit of my own dream life. 

(Credits- 'Coffee' image Hayley Maxwell)