3 women who were driven to quit their jobs without plan B and how they coped

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Quitting your job with no plan B is not the easiest thing to do. We chatted to 3 women who did just that.

Mpho Mashego’s last straw before quitting was when her mental health was affected by her work environment. 

My first impression of the working world was great. I worked on my first big newspaper, The Citizen Newspaper, which opened my eyes to a new world of journalism. I later freelanced for the Small Enterprise Development Agency. I added to my stripes by working for www.zkhiphani.com (online youth magazine), Lebowakgomo Community Radio Station and The New Age Newspaper.

The time I quit my job with no plan B

I was working at JoburgToday.tv as their Senior Content producer. I’d worked for the team for over 4 years with no salary increase. I had to teach interns how to conduct interviews, compile stories, help with scripting and researching show segments. I worked with The City of Johannesburg, Gautrain, International Transport Month with the Gauteng Province team and I also made sure that entertainment and lifestyle shows were on the show daily. It really took a toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally. My life was basically my work. It looked great on the outside but I was failing myself every single day.  I was tired, I cried every single day. I started hating my job. I hated waking up every morning to face my boss. I dreaded everything TV related. I would smile and do my job but I felt like I’m worthless and that I wasn’t good enough. On the 30th of April 2017, I decided to resign.  I sent through my resignation letter which has been in my draft emails for months. All I had was a little bit of money to cover me for only a few months.

I went on to freelancing but that wasn’t working out as well. It was hell. I regretted making the choices of leaving a consistent salary. I went back to the working world.  I was approached by a new store that was opening up in SA. I felt great; my mojo was back. A good salary, perks to last me a lifetime. I had a job to wake up to, but the perks meant being a people pleaser.

The new job and the people were great. A different culture which took me two weeks to warm up to. But my line manager was the most impossible person to work with. I would push myself so hard to meet up all his expectations. He hated every concept, idea, campaign and content that I came up with. Regardless, of his insane deadlines, I managed to get the work done, but my energy was depleted. I felt out of place. He used to tell me, “I need to see if that brain of yours works.” Or “I own your time”. He regularly reminded me about how he’s been working in the company for years and he knows the ins and outs of it, and that I should stick with him, through his verbal abuse and condescending ways.

I approached HR numerous times about his behaviour and how he treats me on a daily basis and the HR Department responded by saying, “Please don’t take it too hard, he is literally like this. He’s just old and doesn’t understand your role in the company.” This was my boss, my line manager, the person I reported to and he knew nothing, not a single thing about what I do. I had to work 10 times harder, I couldn’t even sleep. My deadlines were piling up and I had no assistant. I was meeting the right targets, but I was drowning. No matter how I excelled, it was never good enough. I was never enough.

In the third month of working in the company, I started suffering from anxiety. I was booked off for a week and my anxieties heightened. It got worse and led to me suffering from depression. Alternative measures were taken where I had to start seeing someone and literally stopped working for months taking care of my health.

Where I am now

I co-own a Social and Lifestyle Guide to Africa platform called Likers of Things. I like things for a living and decided to make money through the things I love and like the most. It’s the most challenging journey that I took, but I enjoy telling stories and engaging with people. Every single day is a new experience. Digital Media is my drug. I live off the internet. I love exploring new things and learning on the go.

To anyone going through what I went through, I’d say meditate, exercise, don’t be afraid to speak out. You are not alone in this. Lastly, find what works for you, and if you don’t know what that is yet, continue searching but DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF. EVER!

Siya Ben is a qualified journalist who’s quit her job with no plan B, twice 

My first impression when I got to the working world was interesting. I was excited because I thought I could finally learn the skills that would help me to become the best journalist in SA. I had so many hopes and plans for my career at the time. I worked for giants like Media 24 and Viacom, where I honed my skills as a writer.

The time I quit my job with no plan B

So, I’ve done this about two times. The first time I felt disrespected. It was as if nothing I did was ever good enough for my employer and he said some pretty harsh things to me. I then decided I wasn’t going to tolerate being told, to my face, that I didn’t know what I was doing. I decided to resign and try to pursue other passions, which I did for about two months.

The second time I was in a really bad mental space and the company I was working for wasn’t supportive. I wasn’t expecting them to hold my hand and go to therapy with me. They just didn’t support where I was at the time. My mental health is something I take seriously and if my workplace doesn’t take it seriously I cannot stay. I left because I could see that I was never going to win. The people I was reporting to showed absolutely no compassion towards me. Just so we’re clear, I never fell behind on work and I always delivered on time.

Quitting both jobs with no plan affected me in a positive way. I was at peace and had no regrets. The decision to quit was always because of my mental health — to protect it and make sure I don’t end up in a mental institution because of work.

I’ve learned that it really is important to take care of your mental health, no matter what it takes. You need watch your environment, the conversations you have and the people you hang around. It’s really easy to get caught up in negativity, especially in the workplace. I am now very aware of the types of conversations and language I entertain. I’ve also learned that it’s important to stand up for yourself if you feel disrespected. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to walk away.

Where I am now

I am working for a big agency now. Things are so much better because I walked in with a new attitude. I’ve been working on myself for the past couple of years and have been going to therapy consistently. This has really made a difference in the way I approach situations at work. I’m just in a much better space and I don’t let certain things affect me as much as they used to.

To anyone who recently quit their job, my advice is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. That’s really the first thing you need to worry about. Make sure that you’re in a good space (do whatever you need to do to get there). This will influence how you react to situations and respond to people. Also, when you’re in a good space, you tend to see the world in a different (positive way). If you have a problem with someone, speak up, make your voice heard. Don’t just complain behind the person’s back. Learn to stand up for yourself because if you don’t, the disrespect will continue. If nothing changes then you have to do something and decide whether to resign or stick it out.

Lerato Mokeona* didn’t think the turnaround time at the agency she worked for was a big deal until she was pushed to quit her job with no plan. 

My career started as a freelance assistant stylist for two years before landing what seemed like my dream job. In 2012, I started working at a well-known publication as a writer. My first impression of the working world was a shock to my system, to say the least. The power dynamics, cultural differences, financial bracket difference makes people different and how they treat you. It felt like a high school playground where the rich people were the “cool kids” everyone is interested in.

The time I quit my job with no plan B

I had moved from publications to PR & Marketing. I worked for a boutique agency which had amazing clients. The work was great and the pay was better than what I earned before, so it felt like the right move. I quickly found out that the reason for the high staff turnaround is not because of the work but the environment; it was toxic, strenuous and literally made me sick. I was emotionally and mentally drained. The thought of going to work made me cry. My Sunday nights were filled with anxiety, stress and heartache. I knew I had to leave but no one was hiring. I was emailing my CV out every morning, going to interviews, but no-one hired me. On a random Wednesday night, I received a WhatsApp from my boss. That was the last of it. It was 22h30, I was in tears I and didn’t understand how they thought that was okay. It was not an emergency but an abuse of power. Crying, I spoke to my boyfriend and he said he would be able to help me pay my bills for three months while I look for a job. I handed in my resignation letter the next morning. I didn’t have a plan B but knew that place was doing more harm than good. It was hard because my mother wasn’t earning much and comes from the “hold on” generation, so she didn’t understand why I did it. It was rushed but I needed to do it.

After quitting my job, I was left in a confusing state because there was a sense of relief, but I still had the panic of needing a new job within a timeline. The stress of now being financially dependent on someone else was there, but it was a load off my shoulders when compared to the stress from my previous job.

Where I am now 

Crazy story. I started my own company. During the three months of looking for a job my boyfriend and I broke up, I went to countless interviews but no-one hired me. The interviews went from “You are too qualified”, “We will get back to you” and some even offered a salary I wasn’t willing to accept.  I decided to start freelancing which then turned into my own company. I registered it and have watched it grow for two years now.  If it doesn’t feed my passion, creativity, work and financial goals, I won’t do it. I have learned a lot about myself during the past three years and have fallen in love with myself and the person I am becoming. I had to learn my own weakness and strengths and learn to use them for work. Working for yourself isn’t easy and takes discipline, dedication and drive. I know it’s me, so if I don’t work, the company doesn’t make money.  There are times I wish I worked for someone else so I can submit a doctor’s note and rest, ha ha, but I love what I do and wouldn’t look back.

It sounds cliché but no amount of money is worth the sacrifice of your happiness and health. A company will replace you in a heartbeat. The day you resign, your post is already advertised, so think of that and your value. There is no shame in working hard, being passionate and learning, just do it for the right reasons. I am not saying it’s easy and rosy. All jobs have their ups and downs. Just make sure your downs aren’t doing more damage than good. Get yourself a support system, even if it’s not friends or loved ones, SADAG or a stranger will listen and help. Don’t drown in that space.

By Amanda Ndlangisa

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Sihle Bolani

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