Sometimes It’s Okay To Quit

I have had so many people message, e-mail and phone me to ask what is going on… what happened… what have I done??? Well, I am going to try to explain it all. This post is about why and how I quit my job with no solid back-up plan, just a lot of hopes and dreams. So how, why and what is next? Grab some coffee… this might be a long one.

This has been coming for the longest time – years, really. I worked as a senior fashion designer for a leading manufacturer serving all the top brands and boutiques nationally and internationally. As far as fashion careers in South Africa goes, it was pretty amazing and I should have been so grateful to be there. I wasn’t, I was miserable. I’d allowed the crush of the daily traffic, the aggression, the stress, cynicism, the time away from my family, the office politics, the drama, the unrealistic expectations and a formidable workload to slowly suffocate me and in doing so, I’d started to forget who I was and what it was that I did want. I lost myself so completely that I did not even know what it was that made me “me”, or what I really wanted to do with my future.

All I knew was that I craved the freedom to create my definition of success, the power to have my own ideas and to make them happen, and the ability to be the mother my children deserve. In the 7-years of Mikayla’s life and the 3-years of Knox’s, I have never been able to stay at home with them during school break. They have both been sent to school sick more times than I care to admit. I have not been able to attend a single parent day at school, any of their prize-givings and very few sport events. And no, I am not exaggerating… One day we had a bit of an emergency and I had to pick Knox up from school. His teacher did not recognize me… a solid month into the term. She had never met me before.

When my kids got too ill to go to school, my first thought was not “my poor child”, it was a crippling fear and anxiety of telling my boss that I would not be coming in today. I would spend the whole day worrying about what was going on at the office, what was being said and the shit-storm I’d be walking into upon my return. I am not proud of this, and it is easy to say “I would never allow that” if you had never worked in an environment like I had before.

People ask me all the time if working in the fashion industry was really like The Devil Wears Prada. The answer is no. Not at all. It was worse. You work the insane hours, and you are treated like servants. You get screamed at, sworn at, belittled and broken down when things go wrong – and then praised just enough to get your spirit back up for the next match when things go right. There is probably one glam party a year (that you are expected to work at) and no free samples or clothing allowances… and there is definitely no happy ending. In some ways, it was all about the sacrifice just to have the privilege to work there.

I’m pretty sure that anything can be tolerated, up to a point. What drove me to quit my job was a few things. One was my mental health — I was not sleeping, I was popping anti-anxiety medication like smarties, I was depressed and constantly in a negative mindset. My husband and kids deserved more than this shell of a woman that I had become. Then, when I saw how miserable the people around me was who were in much higher positions, I knew I never wanted to be that. My mother-in-law’s death was a major turning point in my life. All of a sudden death and mortality became very real to me, and the fact that life is so short is something that now is constantly on my mind. I no longer measured my worth by what I’d accomplished — and I know this is an epidemic among women today.

Far too many people are frightened of making a wrong decision; you want to be sure you’re doing the right thing, but there is no way of knowing until you try. You only get two choices; stay in the situation that feels comfortable and safe because it’s familiar and there is a set salary at the end of every month (even when it is painful and may lead to a life of regret), or be willing to experience the discomfort and uncertainty that comes from the unknown (and which may lead to a life more exciting than you could ever imagine).

I was walking towards our office one morning when I just burst out into tears. I had to go back to my car, I was having a full-on panic attack and I kept thinking “I hate this place, I hate my life”. That day, I went home and told my husband that I was going to resign the next day. I thought he was going to try talk me out of it – he is a very logical person. He said “That’s okay baby… I am so glad you finally made the decision. Good for you. Don’t worry, anything you do will work out – I know you. You will make it work.” 

Life’s too short to go home every day feeling unfulfilled. Life’s too short to work for a terrible boss. Life’s too short to go home every day feeling taken for granted, feeling taken less than seriously, or feeling taken advantage of.

Life’s too short to not be as happy as you can be.

I had enough… so how did I do it? And no – we are not rich, I did not win the lottery and no-one died and left me money.

I have been blogging for almost 4-years, in this time I was able to grow my blog into a successful source of income. It was not enough to replace my salary, but it was enough to show promise. I saved up enough money to provide me three months worth of salary through paid gigs on the blog. A safety net. Three months is not enough, but I could not wait any longer. I have a lot of financial commitments… rent, school fees, food, a car and insurance – all of which requires regular income. So, I made sure my blog earnings were just about enough to cover my basic monthly costs. Not going to work actually saves me a bit of money as well. Less petrol and the kids do not need to go to after care. There are a couple of little things I did to bring my monthly costs down as well – every bit helps. At the same time, the blog was not quite enough to give me piece of mind, so one night I was sitting and wondering what I could do using the skill set and experience I already have… and it just came to me. I realized that I still do love fashion, even though it is an industry I do not want to be part of.

I wanted to do things my way, I wanted to do something that would make the difference I was longing for. I wanted to help women succeed and feel good about themselves. So, I started asking women what they really needed help with in their wardrobes and created a service in response, one that also distances me from so much of what I disliked about the fashion industry. That is how The Image Consultant was born. I love working with women,  I love exploring their lives through their stories and hearing about their desires. It is the opening up and sharing and the opportunity to help a woman write a new story for herself that I find utterly compelling. I also offer blog consultations to help bloggers reach their full income potential and to get things going. I have a few bookings lined up, and I am looking forward to the amazing opportunities coming my way. I need to spend some time to grow it and work on my blog at the same time. It is scary, terrifying really… but I have to try. I have to make this work. There are so many amazing women who have taken a leap of faith and made it successful, it is not impossible.

This is your life. If there’s a voice inside you telling you what to do, then listen. You must get clear about how you want to feel and what makes you happy and then create that life instead of pretending you can’t have it.

Ultimately, you’re the only person who can decide what’s right for you.

I have never been happier, I feel free, I can breathe again… I am not even stressed about money, even though I really should be. I just want to live my life instead of just surviving.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me, it is going to be a wild one.


20 thoughts on “Sometimes It’s Okay To Quit

  1. Sigrid says:

    Maz, this is amazing! I relate so much to so much you’ve written here. I was in a similar situation, although I actually loved my boss and the company I was at. But I was miserable, stressed and anxious. I’ve been self-employed for almost a year and a half now, and I honestly wouldn’t go back. You deserve to be happy. You deserve a chance to try your ideas on for size. I can see you being HUGELY successful in this. Plus, you’ll have the freedom to really be there for your kids. It’s amazing. You’ll love it! I’m so proud of you (completely not patronisingly, I hope you know)!!

    • Maz says:

      Thank you so much Sigrid, it is so nice to know there are people out there who have done it with no regrets! It feels like get to write a whole new chapter in my life, it is amazing! Thank you for your kind words and your support. Everyone has just been so great.

  2. Kerry says:

    You know that I am right behind you with this and want to support however I can.
    I can also relate so much and you keep inspiring me to think seriously and perhaps start making some big decisions myself.

    • Maz says:

      Thank you Kerry, you have been amazing throughout this entire shift in my life. You are always so supportive and kind. Any idea what you would like to do?

  3. Susann says:

    Hi Maz,
    I did the same thing a year ago… no plan but landed on my feet. I loved my job until I got a new manager… that just happened to hate me. She made my life at work hell and I was also constantly depressed and stressed because HR dis nothing not even the day I laid a formal complaint. It got so bad that I told her outright in her face with other senior managers that she is a bully and horrible person and that she can go ^^*^% herself because I will not take it anymore and that if she ever screams at any of my team she will deal with me and I won’t back down ever again. It got better – but we all knew that it was just a facade.

    I have been doing what I love for more than a year now. Even my hair started curling again lol.

  4. Melissa Camacho says:

    We are three years into being fully self-employed after my husband quit his never-ending hours job to start his own business. Still stressful at times but definitely worth the family time we get from it. Good luck on your journey!

  5. Stacy says:

    Hi Maz,
    I can’t even begin to comprehend everything that you have been through, I can’t imagine working in that environment day in and day out for so long! I just know that you are going to rock this new chapter in your life – your enthusiasm, motivation and drive will make sure of it! I can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

  6. Hema says:

    Thank you for sharing, it’s so honest and reflects what so many women are going through daily. I made the exact same decision for the exact same reasons. I left my great, secure and well-paying job in Aug 2015, with no real plan, some savings and a freelance gig. These months were the best our family ever experienced, the joy, the happiness, I was healthier, happier and my children and husband were content. It is true that money cannot buy you happiness. I just got back into working full time 2 weeks ago and I miss being with my children terribly. But, I was given the ideal opportunity to see if going back works….I’m giving it a go. Good luck, it’s the best thing you can do for your family and yourself!

  7. Kim Muller says:

    I’m hating my job at the moment, because that’s what it feels like – a freaking chore. My manager has no qualms with me knowing he doesn’t like me but I can’t leave just yet. I need to first know how to make things work from home before I can take that leap.

    But I want to support your new venture as much as I can in any way that I can. Even though I have this feeling that you’re going to be a huge success! Like huge!!

  8. Kelly-Anne Joubert says:

    This summed up my life in a nutshell! I am going through this same thing and relate so much to this that I felt you wrote down my exact thoughts and problems with being a full time working mom! I have a business on the side that I am trying to grow and I told my partner that this will be the last year of my retail job and from next year will be self employed hopefully. I NEEDED to read this to give me hope. Thank you!

  9. Modern Zulu Mom says:

    Well done again Maz. Your boldness and confidence is inspiring. Wishing you all the best. The extra time with your family and stress that will be alleviated will do you a world of good!

  10. ChevsLife says:

    I am truly relieved that you took that bold step Maz. You’ve developed an amazing platform here, it is you and it adds to your happiness. Your new consultancy can only do well, benefitting those who will recognise the value you can add to their lives through your experience and passion.

  11. Heather says:

    Congratulations Maz! I stayed in a job I was unhappy in for 8 years until I had Nicky. I was never enough even though I worked really hard. So glad I am in a better space now. You won’t regret this. Sometimes you have to close a door for another one to open.

  12. Shalane says:

    Maz, reading this post, I am in tears. I know exactly how you feel. I am the only person working and being a single mom it is so tough. Most days I feel so terrible and burnt out. I have something I want to pursue and you have just given me the courage to do that. Thank you very much!

  13. Veronica Mitchell says:

    It is really hard to not be in your comfort zone. But sometimes, it is best to just quit and be happy. It is very rewarding to you are choosing happiness over something that will give you comfort. I wish you well!

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