How Being Selfish Set Me Free

How I quit my ill-fitting starter career

It  was the fall of my senior year in college that I made the decision that would define my professional life for the next ten years. I was not ready for a full-time job and being financially independent, therefore I decided to go to graduate school.

At the time, I was being groomed to be a student affairs leader (i.e. college administration). On paper this was a “fun” career that promised me long-term employment, opportunity for professional growth and a place to make an impact on tomorrow’s leaders.

Match-Made in Codependent Heaven

Did I fail to mention that I was a classic nice girl/codependent? I was the responsible/care-taking kind who made sure to ignore my needs, wants and desires in order to make everyone else happy. I longed to be accepted, to belong, to be part of the group.

I thrived in chaos and constant crisis, as it allowed me to step in and be the heroine. I am the fixer! I can handle it all.

Needless to say, this career allowed me to act out once again familiar patterns, character defects and go on a crazy professional ride.

Graduate School + Beyond 

I should have noticed the red-flags from the beginning. My eating disorder and self-destructive habits were having a field day in this career choice.

I consumed my time with taking internships, graduate assistantships, and teaching assignments as a way to pad my resume to ensure that I would get the right job upon graduation. I craved for so long to hide my imperfections, my secrets, my defects of character.

I didn’t want you to see that I was an imperfect human being consumed with shame and judgment.

My professional life consisted on being available to my work at all times of days and hours. I had little to no social life. I was stuck in a people pleasing sandwich as I navigated two conflicting expectations and demands. Let’s just say I was always in the wrong and I learned how to absorb other’s people anger, sadness and rage as a way to cope with life.

Over the course of a decade, I moved up the ladder. I became an expert and was “successful” in my job.

Yet in my gut I knew, I could no longer afford to give my life away to a career that giving me nothing in return.

I needed to make real changes if I wanted to have the life I longed to live. @lryamin (Click to Tweet!)

My Escape Plan 

By the fall of 2012, my body was quickly deteriorating. In a three month span, I was visiting multiple doctors trying to get a diagnosis. I got multiple sonograms, blood work and a colonoscopy only to discover that I had a series of stress-induced disorders.

I knew in my gut it was time to “walk away.” I would not get fired from this job so this meant I had to quit.

My reality was that I was ill-prepared to do it. I had little to no savings, growing credit card debt and a desire to start my own coaching practice.

Yet there was something within me that believed it was time for me to step out on my own.

I told myself that I would be resourceful and find a way to make things happen. I could use my years of care-taking experience and now apply it to just me. I would figure things out as they came along as long as I focused on my present moment.

On June 25, 2013, I said good-bye to my starter career.

As I said good-bye I made a conscious commitment to live a life without regrets. To always listen to my ever-so wise intuition and trust it as my inner GPS.

The road towards self-employment has been quite bumpy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It has taught me how to stand on my own two feet, how to receive help and be seen by others, just as I am – an imperfect human being willing to make this a better space.

LauraLaura Yamin is a career coach that specializes working with women who struggle with codependency in their careers. She guides them into creating + following through an exit plan from the ill-fitting job into their next I can’t wait to get out of bed for career. You can download her free “5-Steps Guide on How to make your I quit! dream a reality today,” and find more information on her website.

I’m so excited to debut the Life Starter’s Blog Series. I have had the greatest honor and fortune of hearing your powerful stories of personal transformation and I wanted to share them all. Because I know that together we can help support, inspire and lift one another. Every Tuesday, we will proudly feature your stories. If you’d like to submit a post, please go here for guidelines and more info. Happy reading!

Image courtesy of Jacob Aguilar-Friend via

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Christina Rasmussen

Welcome to the Message in a Bottle page, here you will find wisdom, truth and tools for you to start over. Make sure you sign up at the top to be sure to receive it in your inbox every Friday.