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I found my identity after leaving golden handcuffs, with Tamika Brunetti

Name: Tamika Brunetti

City and State: Plano, Texas

Occupation: Digital Experience Evangelist

Two years ago you decided to walk away from a company you had been with for 13 years. Tell us about your experience before you quit.

I hired an Executive Coach to help "me" get out of an unusual rut. That work revealed that I had lost my identity to the firm and I needed to reclaim my voice. During this time, I encountered behavior I never expected to encounter while working in a "people first" culture. I can whole-heartedly say that the first 11 years were good. I got the opportunities I wanted in terms of projects, OJT, and training. I had the flexibility I needed to live my life outside of work. All of which came to a halt midway through year 12 with a project that was the complete opposite of "people first" which was swiftly followed by a project with no diversity on the team, I was the diversity in terms of gender and race, then the experience continued to decline at a rapid pace with the bottom falling out in year 13 which impacted my mental health as well as my physical health. But on the outside, everything was peachy!

What signs, either obvious or more quiet, led you to decide to quit without knowing what was next?

When people show you who they are, you should always believe them. When an organization or a company shows you who they are, you should believe them. I allowed their actions and inaction to negatively impact my holistic health which took nearly 2 years to get back on track. The moment I knew I had to part ways with the incompatible environment, even though my husband and Executive Coach both encouraged me to quick long before this "ah ha" moment, was when my doctor asked me, " so what happens when you land in the hospital?" Absolutely nothing, we are all replaceable.

What did the process look like for you to begin to move forward?

My health became an issue in which my doctor encouraged me to take time off. Upon my return to work, I experienced a health crisis that forced my hand at putting "me" first. My husband and my doctor both sat me down and described several outcomes that I had not imagined. At that point, it was a matter of deciding what day did I want to tender my resignation; on a Friday which happened to be New Year's Eve or the following week. I went with the following week.

What would you say to a woman in your situation who felt compelled to stay at a company because of loyalty and golden handcuffs?

Compensation is one thing, but when you are spending your hard earned money to treat the issues caused by work related stress, it's not worth it. You have one life to live. Live it. Remember, loyalty is not part of the job description, you have to take care of #1 and that is you.

Now that you are on the other side, what it is like to be in a career where you are thriving again?

I enjoy what I get to do. I have fun at work. I look forward to work. I fervently enjoy it all.

I laugh. I laugh all day. Like, from the core. Now that we are working from home, I work on one side of the house and my husband on the other side. Like clockwork, my husband will walk over during a moment that I am not on the phone and ask, "what was so funny?"

I feel like I am now the Tamika I always thought I was.

(Editor's note: we wish we could have a soundbite so you could hear how fabulous Tamika's contagious laugh is...just trust us!)

How have you regained your identity through this experience?

Do not get me wrong, I love a nice handbag, shoes, and suit, however, this experience and COVID-19 have made me realize that I do not have to wear an expensive suit with hair and makeup done to feel accomplished. I am so much more than a title and work affiliation.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned about yourself over the past five years?

I am more than an email with a fancy signature line.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Listen to your body because those closest to you cannot always see your pain.

A question we ask everyone...what do you want to be known for?

Being a light in the dark.

My favorite quote is...

Remember, you GET to, not HAVE to.

Follow Tamika at @thedefiningdetails or connect on LinkedIn. She is the LinkedIn queen!

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