I left nine months ago, and I haven’t looked back
Before I began writing online under my own name, I spent about four years ghostwriting blogs and social media posts for thousands of different clients. Initially, I really liked the work. I got to write from home, and I spent much of my time searching for fascinating articles and quotes for shareable images on Facebook.
This is the work that helped me get back on my feet after an unplanned pregnancy left me homeless in 2013. By 2016, I was finally solvent enough to get my own apartment, and I owe it to that job for getting me there.
Even so, my gratitude couldn’t make it a good job. It turned out to be soul-crushing work. Ghostwriting for businesses already uses a different part of my brain, a different energy. The low pay made the work especially tedious and in order to earn enough money to make it worthwhile, I had to take on as many clients as possible.
Some friends owned the company and despite the fact that I was a contract worker, they micromanaged me and my editor. And by the end of 2017, I no longer felt secure or at peace with my work.
My manager hired on his sister who had no writing credentials, and he began giving her new clients each day while putting the freeze on me. When I asked why I wasn’t getting new clients, I got the run-around.
As a single mom who relied upon this suddenly dwindling social media work, my anxiety kept me up at night. It was this terrible time in my life where I couldn’t relax or see any hope for my future.
Rather than let my anxiety gnaw away at me, I decided to get to the bottom of whatever was happening at work. I tried talking to my manager. When that failed, I tried talking with the owner. And when that didn’t work, I tried to speak with his wife, my friend of a few years.
There’s a reason why plenty of workers don’t want to rock the boat or do anything to irritate their bosses. Once you say something a boss doesn’t want to hear, things might already be damaged beyond repair.
I believe this was that sort of a scenario and it probably began months before I even realized it. By repeatedly speaking up against unpaid or particularly low paying tasks, I became an unappreciated squeaky wheel.
I’m still not sure what exactly transpired to cause four different people within the company management to railroad me. But all of 2018 with the company was hell.
It was bad enough to quit getting new clients. But within days of approaching the owner, I began to have clients taken away.
By March, there was this narrative from management that I was not producing quality work and I would not be allowed to get new clients until they deemed my work had improved.
The accusations were humiliating. I felt like the most inept writer in the world. The one thing that kept me sane was that my editor saw everything that was happening and knew it wasn’t right.
She and I routinely found errors on other accounts. And we were sent emails which threatened having more accounts taken away because I’d supposedly been linking to competitor websites.
Except that I hadn’t. Management kept accusing us of being terrible at our jobs, yet they wouldn’t offer proof when we asked for it. It felt like a hit job and I felt like I must be crazy.
I began writing online in April 2018 in an effort to make ends meet and avoid being homeless again. In June, I talked to my friend who owned the company with her husband, and she accused me of making up drama. I stood my ground, explained that my editor saw everything I saw, but my friend, the business owner, never spoke to me again.
At that point, I knew I was done with my job and it was only a matter of time before I would leave. At least, that’s what I hoped.
When I began building my personal writing career in the spring season of 2018, I didn’t know if I could get anywhere. I don’t want to say that I expected myself to fail, but I didn’t exactly expect success either.
It was more that I saw myself at a very important crossroads. Either I would suck it up at my current job and fall deeper into poverty, or I would take a big risk on myself to finally change my life once and for all.
I couldn’t stomach doing more work that I hated, or stuff that couldn’t feed my soul. And it never helps to work so hard but get berated. So I put in as many hours as I could to make my own writing career work.
By early December, I fell ill and got to the point where I couldn’t keep up with both my contract work and my personal writing efforts. The reality was that the personal writing was paying better than my real job and I didn’t want to juggle those deadlines any longer.
It was a big leap to walk away from the company I had counted on to give me enough work to support my daughter as a single mom. But, to be fair, they had already proved to me that they didn’t care if I got enough clients or not. And do you know what? Their management practices also made it clear that they would sooner run their business into the ground than foster a healthy work culture.
I quit my job nine months ago with the concern that I might seriously regret my decision. It was one of those life-changing moments that will be frozen in my memory forever. I sent an email that couldn’t be unsent, all the while thinking, “This might blow up in my face.”
I wanted to tell my managers to take the job and shove it, but instead, I told the gentler truth. I was sick and could no longer juggle my work and decided to focus on my personal career.
Even today, there’s a part of me that wishes I had been more direct and a little more… badass. I wish I had told them in no uncertain terms that I was leaving because they’d made my remote work experience toxic and unbearable. I wish I’d told them that if they continued to treat people so terribly, they would see a revolving door of writers and clients.
I even wish that I had brought up that lack of innovation and other issues which kept the company from thriving. But I didn’t. The truth is that I was too scared to say any of those things because for all I knew, I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
Part of me wondered if I’d be begging them to take me back in a month.
There is nothing that I miss about that job today, not even after nine months. My editor is a true friend and she went back to teaching full-time shortly after I quit. Our daughters are in the same preschool class today.
I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with this company or the management any longer. I don’t even have to think about them at tax time or groan that they once again have mailed out the 1099s a month or two late.
Sure, I can commiserate with others who do still have to deal with their bullshit, but it is no longer infecting my life. That peace feels amazing. Plus, I am so grateful to be free to write whatever I want and deal with very few issues like deadlines or office politics.
The most unpleasant thing I run into today are nasty critics. The ones who try to package insults as constructive criticism while loading up on the personal attacks. But you know what? I love what I do.
You may or may not be at a crossroads, but if you are? What I wish for you most is courage. Courage to value the work of your dreams. It’s perfectly fine to want a day job, but the reality is that not every writer works best with one. For some of us, writing is truly our happy place. At least, writing what we want, when we want.
If you’re that passionate about writing, and willing to do the work to turn it into your full-time career, nobody has the right to discourage you. Not even you. So I hope you’ll listen to your heart and boldly chase your dreams, whatever they may be.
Of course, it might not be writing. You might have a different dream. But if you’re longing to quit your job to finally do that thing you really want to do? You should know that the world needs more people like you who will finally bet on themselves.