A 27-year-old publicly quit her job in a TikTok video and says she’s not worried about her future prospects
The Great Resignation has brought about a surprising shift in social decorum: People publicly sharing their decision to quit their jobs and then documenting the resignation process for their social media followers.
On Twitter and TikTok users — many of whom skew younger — go into detail about all the reasons why they’re leaving their toxic workplace. So-called #QuitTok videos on TikTok began skyrocketing to popularity at the end of 2021 and have amassed over 6 billion views.
In December 2020, Marisa Mayes recorded herself calling the medical device company where she worked as a sales lead and telling her boss she was resigning. She posted the video to her personal TikTok account, where it has since received over 210,000 likes and nearly 3,100 comments.
While Mayes’ viral video documents her experience quitting her job, she didn’t include her boss’s response, the name the company, or the names of any of her coworkers.
“Medical device sales is, debatably, one of the most sought-after jobs by people in my age range because it comes with a high salary, traveling, and luxury hotels,” Mayes, 27, tells Fortune. “I had the job, which makes the whole thing even crazier.”
She made the decision to quit a few months into the pandemic, a period, she says, that gave her time to think critically about her skills and career aspirations. “I like doing creative work, and I don’t like being around people,” she says. “This was a sales position in which I was always talking to customers and doing analytical things, which isn’t what I enjoy. Trying to force myself to do a job like that required so much effort. It took COVID hitting to make me realize I was still unhappy, even in this big fancy job.”
Mayes, who lives in Phoenix, didn’t have a plan when she quit, but these days, she’s supporting herself as a full-time content creator and a consultant for people interested in making an income on TikTok. She also co-founded a virtual coworking startup called Spacetime Monotasking. While she anticipates she’ll be able to match her old salary by the end of 2022, she’s making less than she used to.
“I want to acknowledge that I’m a white woman with a privileged background,” she says. “That’s where a lot of the comfort came from when I was able to quit, knowing that, worst case, I’d have people in my corner.”
Mayes’ video is more benign than some #QuitTok posts, which often include screenshots of conversations with bosses or inflammatory language about the work environment.
“Do I have issues with my former boss and coworkers? Absolutely,” she says. “And I could’ve gone a different route [in the video], but I knew my feelings about the situation were more of a reflection of corporate America as a whole, and a reflection of me, rather than my company. That’s why I haven’t even said the name of the company or given names; it’s not really about them. The video is about me taking control and making an empowered decision.”
Mayes says she isn’t worried about the video making it difficult to find a new job in the future.
“We’re all so obviously conditioned to worry about how we’ll be perceived, and how we can best show up professionally to make sure we’re attractive candidates,” she says. “That stuff all stopped mattering to me the moment I was done with that job. Thinking about [quitting] in a way that was comfortable for everyone else didn’t cross my mind.”
Her former boss and coworkers have not reached out to her, she says.
If a future employer came across her video and was concerned by it, she says, she’d know immediately the company was not the place for her.
“If I ever do go back and find a quote-unquote normal job, and they were concerned about my video, I’d probably get up and leave,” she said. “If you see that video as disrespectful to the company, or as unprofessional, it’s clear you don’t value transparency or authenticity.”
Mayes is heartened by the outpouring of comments she’s received since posting the video from people expressing gratitude for demystifying the process.
“I just wanted to show behind the curtain, like, This is what a big life change looks like. It can be all kinds of emotions at once,” she says. “Even people who choose to post in an inflammatory way, and point fingers, that’s also a valid reaction.”
Mayes argues the #QuitTok movement is “liberating to witness.”
“People say things like, ‘How does it feel to be living my dream?’” she says of the comment section on her TikTok. “But they also say I’m an entitled millennial who doesn’t know the value of hard work.”
She is particularly excited by comments like “‘hey, this gave me the courage to quit my job next week,’ or ‘this is the push I was looking for,’” she says. “Because I wasn’t actually telling people to quit their jobs. I was just documenting my experience.”
Mayes says her virality — the video continues to rack up thousands of views a day — is proof that people really relate when you’re vulnerable on social media. “You don’t know how much it can help until you post it.”
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