I left the corporate world because my health depended on it.
Empty American calories of success fueled me. Promotions and recognition, pay raises and perks. Like a hungry hamster on a wheel, I chased and chased and chased. I chased willingly, and with the shiny ambition typical of a child of immigrants...until I couldn't any longer.
This isn't new news. Truth is, I’m a recovering overachiever. As a kid, I hid from the summer heat and humidity at the local library instead of playing outside. In high school, I excelled with straight A's and served as school president. TIME Magazine likened my college internship hustle to an Olympic gold achievement. I spent my early career at top-notch organizations. Of course, an MBA was in my 5-year life plan. Because that’s what I was "supposed to do"...but according to who? To be continued in a separate post.
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Collaboration, creativity, cool clients, and constant learning. All attractive aspects of agency life that I enjoyed. Agency is the perfect playground for generalist skills to develop. It's fast-paced, intellectually challenging, and fun. I gladly accepted the challenge to become faster, better, and in demand. I thrived and had incredible opportunities to contribute to exciting, impactful projects.
But the agency model is broken. (This isn't a secret.) It operates on human capital and tight profit margins. This means that the business excels with healthy and happy employees who contribute their creativity, time, and skills. The downfall is that our value as an employee is measured by the productivity produced in a billable hour. Everyone at some point ends up overworked.
Time is money. The more hours you clock, the more money the agency makes. This manifested into never-ending high-priority lists, late night emails, and working weekends. Chronic stress is part of the culture (but nobody talks about it). Everyone's stressed, overworking, and high-achieving. PR agency jobs rank #8 on the top 10 most stressful occupations in America. It’s no surprise that I found myself unhappy, unhealthy, and deeply depressed.
The Big Burnout arrived September 2017.
It was the second fizzle and burn to greedily rob me of my mental and physical health. My grandmother Luz brightened this dark moment with meaningful advice: El trabajo siempre estará ahí, pero la salud se va. Work will always be there for you, but your health won’t.
“El trabajo siempre estará ahí, pero la salud se va.”- Mamá Lucy
Her words were my wakeup call. Like a flip of a light switch, I knew it was time for a change. Gracias, Mamá Lucy. I took weeks of paid leave to re-calibrate my wellbeing and re-ground myself in my values. The recovery process included gracefully resigning from extracurriculars, learning how to say no, protecting my time, and, ultimately, creating a plan to escape the corporate world.
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They say the best businesses solve personal problems. My personal problem was the lack of empathy, understanding, and human-centered decisions in how ‘business’ is traditionally done. My personal problem was investing blood, sweat, and tears for thankless work. For not being on purpose and aligned with my personal ethics.
bombilla creative is my phoenix rising from the ashes. I'm grateful for the painful The Big Burnout - it led me to a new beginning. I’m taking a chance on myself by starting my own consultancy. I take on projects that I enjoy and collaborate with causes, socially conscious companies, and entrepreneurs I believe in. I’m here to help amplify the brands and businesses of changemakers on the move — on my own terms.
I've chosen to accept perpetual uncertainty in exchange for what doesn't serve me. I choose work that aligns with my values, interests, and skills. It feels liberating, empowering, and pretty amazing! I'm learning so much, every single day.
Thank you for reading my story. If you're currently unhappy, unhealthy, and depressed because of your job,
you're not alone
How can you take small steps to create an alternative for yourself? You deserve better.