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How My Body Told Me It Was Time to Leave a Toxic Job

By | April Zimmerman |

I paced around the bedroom, phone to my ear, and paused at the door to our second-floor deck. Through the window, a garbage truck lurched and screeched down the street, grinding at my already shot nerves. “I thought a lot about our conversation last week. I decided the best thing for me to do is end my contract when the month is up.” Even as I said it, I second-guessed myself. Am I doing the right thing? Should I keep this up a little longer? Am I irresponsible for quitting when I just got a raise?

My boss paused on the other end. “April…really? What happened?”

What happened? Was he kidding? I wanted to hurl my phone at the wall. Every conversation I had with him instantly became wasted breath.

Two years before this infuriating phone call, I was hired as a contract-based content writer for a small marketing agency. Initially my projects were strictly focused on writing, but within a couple of months my role expanded until I was leading content writing, project management, and social media management on three huge client accounts. My pay did not increase accordingly.

The physical warning signs started soon after I was hired. My body was communicating, but I wasn’t listening.

Ironically, the bulk of my assignments involved writing HR content focused on people-first cultures, employee mental health, pay gaps, and more. Meanwhile, I was immersed in a workplace that valued cheap labor and quantity over quality. My work suffered because of it. I couldn’t focus on creating good content because I was overwhelmed trying to create enough content.

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