Clean pain is pain that mends and can build your capacity for growth. It's the pain you experience when you know, exactly, what you need to say or do; when you really, really don't want to say or do it; and when you do it anyway. It is also the pain you experience when you have no idea what to do; when you're scared or worried about what might happen; and when you step forward into the unknown anyway, with honesty and vulnerability...Clean pain hurts like hell. But it enables our bodies to grow through difficulties, develop nuanced skills, and mend our trauma. -- Resmaa Menakem
On February 2, 2021, not only was I empowered, I was scared. I've quit multiple jobs before, but always with a new job to go to. Even when I've been fired or laid off, I still went directly into another job. Never had I quit to work for myself, and to focus solely on what I believe is best.
Being from an immigrant family to the US, having a full-time, good paying job with prestige and benefits is something you aspire to; and once you obtain that, you should do everything in your power to keep it. When you are a product of a generation who is not from the United States of America, fought and expended copious amounts of time and energy to get here, and then fought and expended even more copious amounts of time and energy to build a solid foundation here, being in America is delicate. Pure entrepreneurship is too risky. A side hustle or hobby is great, but as long as you have lots of education and a stable full-time job.
But what if you're not meant to work for someone else's vision?
What if you are meant to set your own?
My career working for others' visions may not have been decades long, but it was definitely event and experience full. I worked throughout sectors - corporate, public, private, non-profit, you name it. I've held a plethora of roles, from intern, assistant, front desk associate, manager, program associate, coordinator, coach, assistant director, executive director, co-director, board member. I've engaged throughout all levels of organizations - from on-the-ground operations, to middle management, to executive leadership, to governance. I've learned so much over the past jampacked decade plus working in established institutions, systems and structures. I've also been hurt in countless ways by those institutions, systems and structures.
Being a Black woman with potential and promise is not easy in the workforce. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Too many times I have been held under glass ceilings and forced to hold onto glass cliffs. I literally felt as if I had to work in overdrive just to get to work, and then kick in another ten gears to deal with work.
On February 2, 2021, I decided that having a job was not worth my mental, physical, and spiritual life. It was not worth me being traumatized and depressed. The following clip is Part II of the video I recorded after I pressed "send" on my resignation email.
I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -- Nelson Mandela
I have never been one to shy away from advocating for others or myself, or communicating how I feel. In my professional career, I've written countless internal and external memos, given candid exit interviews, and shared constructive criticism of leadership. I don't think anyone would describe me as lacking courage or bravery.
What I will say is that I have been angry. Angry at myself and others. "Why would they treat me that way? How could I allow myself to take that? How do I get back at them for how they treated me?" I was afraid of forgiving and leading with love.
Justice isn't the absence of love. Justice is honesty prevailing through rightful order, which is love. I realized that by letting go of what is not good for me I was able to achieve justice. I was able to tap into not only the honesty that is stone, but the true empathy, compassion, and love that is grace.
On February 2, 2021 I wrote a simple resignation letter, but on February 26, 2021, my last day working for someone else's vision, I wrote an open letter. I've shared it below. Name indicators have been removed, but the message is in its pure form.
Justice can be achieved. Step into courage - be the stone and extend the grace.
You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served. -- Nina Simone
With Love, Shaunda