I Left A Six Figure Job And Found Peace

The Abstract Mirror Blog

I Left A Six Figure Job And Found Peace

I will start with a little backstory about myself. I grew up in a small town in Washington where higher education wasn’t exactly something most people strive for or even really talked about. A town where everyone stays there and never leaves; they marry their high school sweetheart and just do the normal day to day. I wanted more, ever since I was a little girl I would look up at the moon from my bedroom window and just think about all the possibilities. Little did I know how expensive life is or how complicated being an adult could be. My parents were young when they had me and they steered me the best way they knew how but I would say education wasn’t their strong suit for guidance but I am grateful for them teaching me how to just be a good human that is invaluable.

As soon as I could work at 16 I was addicted to having my own money I was a barista and I would pick up shifts whenever I could. I wasn’t focused on school at all. I had an early dismissal so I could work more. It was nice to have all this money that I could do whatever I wanted to take my friends out for dinners, go shopping any day that I wasn’t working, concerts I mean I literally didn’t save a dime and did nothing responsible with my money.  I really didn’t develop a good relationship with money nor really understand the importance of saving and how crucial these things would be to shape my life and my future. I wanted lots of new things and clothes and I HAD to drive a BMW or have some sort of luxury car. These things became very important to me in my 20s and forward. I wanted to be a “boss bitch” and just felt completely invaluable without a proper title nor the money to back it up. It made me insecure. The root of all this for me was that I am a minority, nor am I from a well off family. I never had all the things the rich kids had growing up and to be in control of that aspect of my life made me feel some sort of way.  I would try to keep with my friends or society in general. I wanted to do all the things you were “supposed to do” and I thought attaining these things would give me some sort of validation.

So I went right into the workforce and landed in the automotive industry.  It’s not typically a woman-friendly environment and there isn’t a whole lot of room to grow or learn. In spite of it I excelled I started out as a receptionist then a service cashier, a title clerk, accounts receivable and payable, and car biller. I did all the roles and was already very appreciated and broke records and I ran circles around other employees. Managers typically loved me and I ate it up. At some point of being in the business for about 10 years I needed to grow but I was hesitant. I was still not making a lot of money in any of those positions so part of my reasoning for wanting to grow was financial more than anything. It wasn’t coming from a place of passion I just thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I just happened to be good at what I did and very detail orientated. When I got into the industry it wasn’t what I expected to be my career it’s not something I was thinking about or the direction I was going in on purpose, it just happened. See I am a really creative person. Accounting was something I was good at but not something I ever wanted to do for my entire life. I have always pursued lots of things outside of the automotive industry makeup artist, styling, photoshoots, creating, writing…I had so much going on that lit me up so work was just a job but once I hit 30 and was sick of not making a whole lot of money even with side hustles I started to inquire about becoming an office manager they made decent money and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to entirely do it because of the responsibility I knew it would take me away from things that made me truly happy but the greater Seattle area is expensive and I thought it was maybe time to grow up. The only other place to really go from my standpoint was a controller which I didn’t believe I was capable of. I have no college or degree so I thought that was way out of my league or understanding. So within about 6 months I found something which was actually advertised as an assistant office manager but it was actually for an office manager. I went into the interview and didn’t hear back and thought it wasn’t an option anymore but about a month later I was called back in and interviewed with the controller and owner and got the job! I was so excited! I felt like a grown-up finally a BOSS BITCH. It felt surreal that I would actually be solving my money issues as well. While I had 0 managerial experience I was going to fake it until I made it.

My second day the payroll person said she was going to have to give notice because her husband was transferring so at that point I should’ve known this place was going to be a black hole of complete and utter nonsense. No matter what this place threw at me I got it done and figured it out. Their books were a mess. I had a staff that wasn’t properly trained and a controller that wanted to retire like yesterday and I’m sure he wasn’t too excited to have someone he would need to train. I was the only woman manager and I was much younger than the rest of them and it definitely didn’t help that I look much younger than I am. No one took me seriously. Sometimes I wonder if I only got the job because I was a cute girl. Everyone wanted me to just basically shut up and do the job, not create waves or have any opinion, nevermind that I had a decade of experience and had done every admin job a dealership has and saw what didn’t work at dealerships and what did work. I felt like odds were stacked against me from the start. I worked weekends and stayed late every day, I took over every single desk until their schedules were cleared by myself and reorganized the office from top to bottom. It took me a year and a half to clean their books. There was constant drama, I couldn’t find knowledgeable staff and at times did their job plus my job. The culture was extremely toxic. The GSM spoke to people however he felt like. One time at a managers weekly meeting I happened to say we weren’t getting cancellations in on time and asked him to talk to the people that should be handling it. I thought nothing of this since this is what managers meetings are for and it wasn’t a big deal at all and in the meeting we moved on to the next topic. He called me after the meeting and told me to never bring up anything in a manager’s meeting and proceeded to rip me a new asshole. Asking me how long I had been working there in comparing it to how long he had been there. I have never been talked to like this by another co-worker ever in my life, much less a manager. I am not a confrontational person at work. I will stand up when I think people are treated unfairly but beyond that, I just wanted to do my job and go home.

At some point I had done a good job that was noticeable by the owner despite me being exhausted and feeling a little defeated. He asked me if I wanted the controller position. I felt a lot of things and here it came MORE validation that I was missing from inside myself. I did it…I climbed the mountain! I did something that I thought wasn’t possible by any means. I had no formal education nor was a CPA but somehow I made it and I thought I would be stupid to turn it down. No matter if I was already feeling exhausted and tired by this point. I didn’t listen to my inner voice. I knew I wasn’t happy at this job and the longer I stayed there the more the things I really enjoyed went on the wayside. My personal relationships started to suffer because I was constantly tired, too tired to do anything after work or even on the weekends all I would do was sleep and maybe catch up with friends at night. My boyfriend at the time and I would pretty much just stay home and watch movies. I wanted to do absolutely nothing including creatively. I started coping with numerous bad days by drinking after work which is a whole other story. About 3 years into the job….yes I stayed at this god awful place even longer, even though my personal life was changing for the worst.

I was slowly becoming exactly what I had feared my whole life: someone who just lives the same day on repeat. I was dead inside and had become so far from the funny, free-spirited, creative person I once was, everything with me was so serious all the time. Even at this point I didn’t quite see what was happening because it was so gradual I would slowly stop doing things that once made me so happy. I was a very unhappy person and this naturally bled into my relationship with my boyfriend at the time. Not to say there weren’t other things there but this played a huge part in it. Who wants to date someone who’s not even fun to be around anymore and never wants to do anything? I know I wouldn’t. But I still stayed at this job now because I felt so obligated to do so. How would they find someone else to do what I did? I cared more about someone else’s business than my own well being. I had virtually no real savings because to make up for how unhappy I was at this job I was shopping and spending all the extra money on a bunch of material items. So I had done it right? This is what I was striving for? All my valuable time, energy into this job that I wasn’t even passionate about and it was slowly destroying myself and everything around me.

Once I moved out of my boyfriends when we broke up  it was time to do some reflection about everything to stop drinking so much and numbing myself. While it didn’t happen immediately it took me a good 6-8 months to get things under control for myself. I discovered a lot of things in this time and I just wanted to get back to who I was before all this. The girl that felt enamored every day with the absolute beauty of just life. The one who would laugh until she was crying. I so desperately wanted her back and it wasn’t happening. Things progressively like always stayed terrible at work and then got REALLY terrible. I won’t go into the mess because that is really personal to the owner but everything that ensued caused me a ton of extra work and constant stress more than anything I have ever experienced. I thought things were bad before? This was really unprecedented. It was an absolute shit show and I had worse anxiety than I have ever had and couldn’t sleep through the night. I felt like I was trapped in straight hell. I had been saving money basically since I moved out of my ex’s and knew I was going to have to create an exit strategy. Sure I could’ve quit and gone to another dealership which I had tried to quit about 4 times and always got talked into staying. But I was a single woman paying everything solo so I wasn’t saving as much as I wanted to so I knew it would take a while. I was so turned off by working for another dealer period I knew if I wanted to get out I would need to have money so I didn’t have to rush into anything or something that I really didn’t want to do.

After 5 years I was able to break free from that place not unscathed of course but I did it and the owner didn’t even really say bye to me…no one really did except my office staff. All I had sacrificed emotionally more than anything. My relationships ruined and my mental state depleted. It didn’t mean anything to anyone except me. It’s only been a few months and I still feel like I’m mentally recovering from it. I had severe burnout. I no longer need to sleep for 12 hours each weekend night and all day. I am slowly getting back to who I was, I’m not there yet I still feel a little lazy at times a little slow to get back into the things I love full throttle. I still don’t feel quite as creative as I was but I do think it will come back and I will get joy from those things again. Looking back I wish I had left sooner and not let a job take over my whole life. No amount of money is worth losing the best parts of yourself or the people that make life worth living. I am working on myself again daily and I wish I had realized sooner that no amount of money was worth all that. I climbed the mountain and it was lonely and miserable. My definition of success which was based really around societies and external validation was false. I accomplished more than I thought I could and it felt fruitless.

I am still young enough to change paths and even though I don’t have a lot of money anymore I could care less It’s actually surprising how much I don’t care…I don’t want any of the material stuff. I want to spend time with good friends that make me laugh, my parents, I want energy to live my life on the weekends or when I’m not working, I want enough mental energy left to come home and spend time creating things. I want a simple life. My advice to everyone is to follow your passions and if it feels like you’ve come to a place where you feel like you have to choose a path please always choose the one that makes you smile and your heartbeat fast. Because it is easier to sacrifice for things that make you happy. It doesn’t mean there will be a smooth easy path but it’s also going to give back to you in a way that gives you more life emotionally. Take money out of the equation if you can. I would rather work 2 jobs than ever go back to the place I was at. We aren’t made to just work and die. We get one life and we are more powerful than we can begin to imagine. The things you can accomplish or create when your heart is invested are limitless. You sell your soul and it never works out. Listen to that inner voice and TRUST it, it will never pull you astray I promise. I learned so much from this experience so I will never regret it but as someone who has lived on both sides of the coin. You need to determine what success means to you. No one has your back like you have your back. No one cares about your happiness like you care about it. So take it seriously, pick what you want and don’t let your future be picked for you by circumstance.

Written by:  Leticia P.

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