I loved my job.

I use to joke with people that the only way I would leave my job is if I was carried out on a stretcher with a sheet over my head. Every day, I looked forward to going to work. I did extra projects, received praise and promotions, and put everything I had into making my workplace the best it could be. I didn’t bother keeping an updated resume, because I knew that one day I would retire from that job.

Then I got a new boss.

The short story is that my boss quickly became my bully, turning that dream job into a nightmare job until one day, my job was yanked away from me. Devastation is not a strong enough word to describe all the emotions I had in those weeks right it happened. I struggled to find my way. Suddenly, I was no longer a happy, confident person. I was scared and unsure of myself. I felt like I had lost my identity.

I started a new job that I didn’t enjoy, but I needed something that paid the bills and supplied health insurance for my family. I longed for my old job, my old routine. I hated the drudgery of my new reality.

One day, I ran into a person from my old workplace. During the course of our conversation, she remarked that it was “too bad I was no longer in my field.”

That moment stopped me. Why wasn’t I still in my field? Just because I lost one job didn’t mean I had to stay lost.

Even though a door was slammed in my face, I always had the key to open it again.

From that day on, I decided that I get to define my life. The opinions of others were no longer my concern. That allowed me to focus on the kinds of activities and interests that made me feel happy and fulfilled. Grabbing a journal, I wrote down all the things I wanted to do, even the crazy stuff like traveling to India to study ashtanga yoga with a guru. No one was there to judge my ideas. It finally hit me–I was always free to live life on my terms. Now I needed to do it.

I kept my day job, but spent all of my free time building a new kind of existence, one that I found interesting and inspiring. After all I had been through with losing my job, I knew I wanted to help others. Reaching out and helping people who were struggling in the jobs was healing and therapeutic. I started to build a community and network of people who had similar difficult job experiences. At the same time, I was rebuilding my self-confidence.

Two years later, I have a very different life, one that is satisfying on a whole new level. I am an advocate for healthy workplaces. To help targets and survivors of workplace abuse, I wrote a book. Determined to do work I love, I took a leap of faith and launched my own business. My work is winning awards and accolades as a result. I now volunteer my time in the community, working with children with disabilities. I see my life very differently now. Every day is an opportunity to help someone else, to let them know I am here to listen and care about their challenges. I get the joy of seeing people overcome their own self-doubt.

People are my priority and purpose. I wouldn’t have it any other way.