If you're not happy. If you're not comfortable. If you're sad. If something feels off. If you feel devalued, under-appreciated. If you know there's something out there that you'd be better at (even if you don't know what that is yet). If there's a little (or giant) voice inside of you telling you that you deserve better.
YOU. CAN. LEAVE.
I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying it'll happen fast. I'm just reminding you that it's an option.
And more importantly, that you deserve nothing short of amazing. You deserve a career and work environment that bring out your best self. You deserve relationships that nurture and inspire you. Professionally AND personally, you deserve the life that you want. There's no reason to stay and put up with anything less than that.
You *definitely* don't have to wait for your situation to be so bad that it's legally actionable before leaving. Do you know how bad a work environment or personal relationship has to be before you can successfully take legal action against it? It's shameful, if you ask me, that the law requires a person to endure so much before it will protect them. But that's a rabbit hole I'll refrain from going down.
The point is, I've discovered that some people think that the yardstick they should use to determine whether or not to leave a bad situation is whether or not they can successfully sue the offending party(ies). NOPE. If you're not happy, get the hell out of dodge. I know that the thought of suing the pants off that asshole may seem really satisfying, but trust me - lawsuits SUCK. You do not want to go down that road unless you truly have to, and you DEFINITELY don't want to wait until things get that bad before you leave.
I know it can feel daunting.
The mountain of things that need to be done in order to make a real change in your life can feel insurmountable. Whether you're considering leaving your job, or moving to a new city, or leaving a toxic relationship.
So my advice is to just take it one step at a time. Make a plan, a list of all the steps required to get from point A (now) to point B (a better future). And then consider the steps individually - on their own, they're not so scary or unattainable-seeming, right?
And then just tackle them one by one. And before you know it, you'll find yourself in a different story.
But what if the new story is no better than the old one?
I know, that's what makes the whole idea of leaving so scary. The possibility that you'll do all this work and make this big change and in the end, things won't be any better. Out of the pan and into the fire, as they say.
BUT. If you follow your gut, if you really get clear about what YOUR truth is and what YOU really want instead of letting others dictate those things for you, then I can guarantee you that the change you make will land you in a better place than where you were before. It does require some serious self-study and faith in yourself, and it will be difficult before it becomes easy. But it's worth it.
Where we get into trouble is when we follow other people's dreams. When we make choices according to other people's ideas of what an "ideal life" or "dream job" looks like. It's always valuable to have heroes and mentors to inspire us, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is recognizing YOUR truth and separating that out from anyone else's - even the people you admire the most.
Once you've done that, once you've identified YOUR dreams, YOUR goals, and YOUR path, then the journey to your new story becomes a lot less risky. It'll still feel scary, but that fear will be outweighed by the excitement of the great things to come.
Now, will that new story be a perfect fairy tale? Will it be everything you hoped it would be? Honestly, probably not. Because life just doesn't work that way. But if you truly are following YOUR gut, and no one else's, then you can be damn sure that you'll end up somewhere better than you were before. And that's worth facing the fear and discomfort that comes with leaving.
If you want your life to change, you have to make different choices.