Sometimes, the strongest thing a Black woman can do is walk away from a career. If you are feeling drained, taken advantage of or underappreciated, then it might be time to head for the exit. 

Black women are often typecast as the Superwoman. The strong matriarch and omnipresent caregiver are tropes that have taught Black women to endure suffering and sacrifice their own well-being. In the workplace, this might look like extra work, lack of praise or acknowledgement, no boundaries and verbal harassment. Staying in a career that is slowly chipping away at your self-confidence takes a toll. 

In these situations, your strength lies in your goodbye. Here’s how to know when it’s time to walk away from a career.

Acknowledge the Toxicity

In order to gather the courage to leave a toxic workplace, it will help to recognize why you are leaving. Whether it’s microaggressions, bullying, constantly being overlooked for promotions or pay inequities, acknowledge the situation for what it is. It may even help to journal or write down particular situations that happened in the workplace. Keep the receipts of bad behavior and document everything if you are considering taking legal action.

Author and career coach, Janice Sutherland, recently shared on her podcast, This Woman Can, that it’s essential to not “overlook those red flags or minimize bad behavior.” 

Call on Your Support System

Your support system might include friends, family, former colleagues, your LinkedIn network or a therapist. These are the people who will provide personal and professional support. 

“Having a support system can provide you with strength and guidance,” Sutherland said.

A friend or a loved one might provide emotional support and a listening ear about a bad boss. A therapist can help you navigate workplace trauma and provide tools to rebuild your confidence. Your professional network, mentors and former colleagues can pass along job opportunities. 

Create a Plan

While walking away can be a power move, it starts with creating a plan. Before you leave a job, take time to assess your finances. How much do you have saved in an emergency fund? How many months can you cover rent and bills if you are unemployed? What other opportunities would you like to explore next? Who in your network might be able to connect you with those opportunities?

Sutherland encourages you to create a mental picture of what your “walking away” will look like. This plan can even include boundaries you set for certain people, perhaps former colleagues or managers.

Prioritize Your Well-Being 

As you make a plan to walk away, you will want to prioritize your well-being. This is essential before the walk away and after. Practice self-care routines like regular exercise, journaling, getting outside in nature, healthy eating or talking to a therapist. You’ll want to be sure to take extra care to nourish your mind and body during the stressful time of leaving a toxic job. 

Address Mental Health Concerns

Leaving a toxic workplace can be a traumatic experience, and in the process of walking away, mental health concerns may arise. The stress of being unheard and overlooked in the workplace contributes to anxiety, depression, eroding self-worth and even physical self-worth.

Cierra Gross, founder and CEO of Caged Bird HR, said that 99% of employees who reached out to her company for workplace related issues reported depression, anxiety or increased stress. They also reported infertility, hair loss, sleep deprivation and negative impacts to their interpersonal and romantic relationships. 

“We are not built to withstand the constant negativity of toxic workplaces,” Sutherland said. “By walking away, you are saying, ‘My peace of mind matters.’”