The journey to lasting change begins with one step in the right direction. We asked women when they knew it was time to pack their bags and walk into a new chapter, and these women walked out of friendships, relationships and jobs that weren’t serving them and entered into a more prosperous, peace-filled stage of their lives.
They decided they’d had enough, and while still uncertain about the future, they went through with their decisions anyway, and it paid off. Sometimes, we just have to close our eyes and take that bold step.
24-year-old Iyere walked out of a friendship that was draining her and “walked into a great chapter of friendships. I’ve been held together by relationships where I can be my full self.”
“I ended a friendship because she was overwhelming me. Our values didn’t align – she’s a practising stereotypical Christian, and I’m irreligious. She’s homophobic, I’m queer. I also realised that I didn’t enjoy her company as much as she enjoyed mine, and that’s not a fair situation to put someone in.
I distanced myself from her without a conversation because I wasn’t sure how to say it. Unfortunately, she confronted me before I was ready to talk about it, so I had to tell her the unrefined truth — “you’re overwhelming me”. I brought up some instances that made me feel that way too. She wasn’t too happy about it, and things were very awkward after. It took a while, but we’re pretty cordial now.
Now, she’s more intentional about friendships and what she lets into her space. She says, “I have much healthier relationships now. I felt very relieved afterwards, and I didn’t miss her.”
Her only regret is that she didn’t convey her message better, and she advises anyone in a similar situation to “have difficult conversations; they make life easy.”
Vee, 22, left a bank job in August 2022 because it wasn’t challenging.
“It’s funny because my coworkers found it quite interesting, but it was sort of repetitive for me and being someone who easily gets bored and doesn’t like being stuck in a particular spot, I decided to leave. I had typed in my resignation letter since June when I had an encounter with one of my bosses who was trying to move to me. He said a number of sexual things that got me irritated and scared to be in the same space as him, so I wrote the letter that day and just made preparations to hand it in.
While working at the bank, I was also learning a tech skill on the side and found it super interesting. It was very hard to balance both, but I had to pick one, so I chose to focus on tech instead. I studied hard, watched several youtube videos and practised hard too. I got a lot of job application rejections, but I still kept holding on. I got a job in that role about eight months later and it’s been amazing.
I’d say that’s the best decision I’ve made in my entire life because even though life got crazy after I quit, I channelled all that into what I was learning, dedicating over 7 hours to my courses & personal projects, and of course, it paid off.”
She says that leaving the job was instrumental in her career journey.
“It kind of helped me grow in terms of being dedicated to a particular thing. I noticed the difference in my work compared to the last couple of months. I also got bolder in terms of making decisions. Yes, it might be tough but I’ll always pull through. I’ve grown career-wise and learned a lot while working with different tech-focused industries since I quit my job, and I know it’s definitely going to have a positive impact on my work in the coming years.”
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Vee has no regrets.
“When I quit my job, I felt terrible. I was a little depressed too, but I also felt relieved. I knew it wasn’t the end of the world even though I was shit broke. I just channelled all the emotions I felt at the time towards what I was learning (product design), and it’s been beautiful results ever since. I had zero regrets. If I had the chance to quit a job or relationship I felt wasn’t progressing or giving me what I wanted, I’d quit again. If I could do anything differently, I’d have quit even sooner.”
24-year-old Leo ended a nine-month relationship recently because they wanted more and they were unhappy.
“It took me a very long time to accept and come to this decision because I hoped it would get better. My life is different now because I had/ have experienced so much love I never thought I’d actually experience. Prior to my relationship, I’m not sure I had experienced love.
I think I’m happy I was able to make that decision. It was very difficult for me though; I don’t think I ever want to be in that place again. I had to choose between someone I really liked & my happiness. I’m just happy because it wasn’t a bad breakup.
I usually say this to people: “ I trust you to make the best decision”. Because eventually, it’s your decision to make, but one thing I’d advise is to put yourself first & be selfish. Time has not yet run out for your desires in life.”
Ada, 21, quit a job that wasn’t serving her.
“I just graduated nursing school, and a private hospital recruited me. The red flag was how quickly they wanted me to work and the lack of specifics on my pay. I don’t joke with my money, but apparently, my employer jokes with the idea of paying me. It was emotionally and physically draining. I had to work six out of seven days a week usually, and I had to stay for longer if there were emergencies, which they usually were. I wasn’t accepted by the staff as they all already had cliques but my main issue was my boss.
This professor was a pervert who kept trying to ascertain if I was the kind of person who would engage him. He kept sneaking touches and the most profane conversations, and I did my best to avoid him. He found my avoidance as a rebellion and tried to break me. He’d belittle me at every opportunity and turn and then try to sweet talk me in private. Creepy fool. I left because I had to travel, and I knew I wouldn’t be coming back when I sat with my female cousins and they shared experiences with me. I realised fully that I didn’t have to endure toxic environments as they weren’t serving any purpose, and when I returned, I never went back to work there. That definite change gave me workplace strength and confidence. I felt independent like I could tackle anything that came after this decision, and it has made me more confident in my other places of employment.
The plan was to heal after that job and then try and look for another, and I did. I walked into another job with my head held high and zero tolerance for toxicity or any form of unprofessionalism.”
After she left, she felt emboldened, “like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders”.
“Before then, I was very anxious. I didn’t know if I could get another job to cater for my needs and how it’d affect my dynamic at home, but I wasn’t gonna lie and say there wasn’t relief that I didn’t have to go back there. Nigeria is hard, but you shouldn’t swallow trash for pennies either. Leave that rascality now!
Tobi, 22, moved on from an unhealthy and disrespectful relationship and walked into “a chapter more focused on my growth, and overall well-being, prioritising my mental health, my work life and social life.”
“Leaving has improved my work life tremendously as I’m fully focused on my life, and it has increased my earning capacity as well. I protect my space and the people I let into it more intently. I also became more in touch with my feelings and now address whatever affects me on the spot. Initially, it was tough picking my life back up after being overly dependent on my partner. Slowly, I picked up things that interested me, and finally, I healed and did the things I loved. I felt free at the end of the day, less burdened, more in touch with the things I surrounded myself with. Pressure hardly got to me, and as such, I felt happier and lighter, with more responsibilities, but all of it feels worth it. I only wish I’d left earlier and I’m glad I did.”
Pipe, 26, says, “People often talk about abuse in romantic and sexual relationships but not platonic. Remember, the keyword here is often. It’s important to know that all types of abuse between parties whether physical, verbal, mental, etc, should be taken seriously. I noticed that even when you share this type of abuse with people (platonic), they tend to trivialise it as they think it should be easy to cut out friends, and I think it boils down to cisheteronormativity as they’ve put romantic and sexual relationships as the only valid type of relationship on the pyramid scale of other types.”
“Anyway, I used to be close to someone in school – medical school precisely. I had my room to myself, but I’d spend a lot of time in his room because I was platonically attracted to him due to his creative prowess. Prior to cutting him off, there were, of course, signs of manipulation and gaslighting, but I’d overlook it as I was enjoying the creative company, and that was it. At some point, it became more than that, due to his insecurities. He’d subtly mention stuff like ‘I wanted to be like him’, and that’s funny because out of everything in the world, that can never happen. I’m someone who is so self-aware and so in tune with the person that I am, which means I have a clear idea of who I am and what I want almost all the time.
The need to enjoy the creative company was failing as it was getting more obvious that I was definitely in an abusive relationship. Fast forward to when I was planning to go home for a while – say like two weeks and I’d packed all my stuff. The accusation came up. ‘Did you take my wristwatch?’ and he started hurling words like ‘thief’ and all that. Thankfully someone else was in the room who knew me a bit and was quite shocked that someone I called a friend (at the time) couldn’t at least be sure of what he was doing before accusing me. Anyway, that definitely was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I had a quick flashback to the other things I’d endured.
I have a very close-knit community now, and they are definitely family. We are scattered across Africa, Europe, Asia and North Amerikkka. Now, my politics determines who I even say hello to these days talkless of being vulnerable around them.
I did blame myself for a while. I felt guilty and ashamed because I knew I was in an abusive relationship and I still stayed even if I was deteriorating mentally. I realised never to blame the victim, which in this case was me, and the self-blaming was laughable because I’m an advocate of fighting alongside victims to hold perpetrators accountable and here I am blaming myself. I’ve forgiven myself now for even thinking that way in the first place. Never will I blame myself anymore because the problem was the perpetrator, it was never me.”
Their advice for anyone in a similar situation is to rely on those around them, their community, and not to blame themselves for other people’s misdeeds.
“Have a community that will at least help you to see some things clearly. If you are in any type of relationship that’s taking you out of the community you’ve built for yourself over time, that sure is a red flag. Don’t blame yourself for getting into a relationship and trusting someone whether the signs were there or not. You need to realise all blame should be on the perpetrator.”