On Valentine’s Day 2019, I said goodbye to my coworkers. Unlike most last days at a job, it was truly bittersweet; I was going to miss everyone. The farewell email wasn’t just the canned script of disingenuous well wishes. When I pushed the send button to “All” at “Company”, I didn’t secretly whisper, “Fuck you all! I’m out.” On this last day as a corporate research analyst, I was truly sad.
I had come to love and appreciate my coworkers. Though, it hadn’t always been this way. My first day working at Company, I met my nemesis, who co-starred with me in the drama of my nearly five-year tenure at this video game company. He played the role of “Dude who thought he was a genius and everyone else was an idiot.” And I nailed the role of “Woman who was capable, but still constantly felt the need to prove herself.”
With our roles set, you can imagine the plotlines that played out. He tried to undermine my authority. I accused him of hating women. You know, typical male / female dynamics in the office. He wasn’t the only nemesis, of course. There were others. All men. Some tried to manipulate me into their department to take credit for my work. Others continuously questioned my methodologies as a researcher, even though what I was doing was industry-typical.
About a year in, I wanted out. At the time, the company was 90% men, and I hated how often I was the only woman in a meeting. I would sit by myself at lunch staring into the fountain across from SFMOMA, chlorine wafting over my salad, and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing? Why did I get back into video games, when I said I’d never be in video games again? This isn’t who I am meant to be.”
I didn’t want to be there, but I didn’t know where else to be either. The standard advice doled out on career coach blogs and Instagram posts is: “Do what you love!” And so, I asked myself, “What do I love?” I figured I loved food and cooking, and began to research culinary schools. I even went so far as to attend open houses and put together financial spreadsheets to sort out how I could afford this escape.
When it came time to apply, there was something that didn’t feel right. “Am I running away from something?” I wondered, “Going from one male-dominated industry to another — is that what I really want?” I tried to apply for other tech jobs that appeared more female-friendly, but I wasn’t getting much traction.
And then, a thought came that stuck: Maybe I’m not meant to leave. Maybe I’m meant to stay.
In an unlikely act, I didn’t burn it all down. Instead, I stayed. In the four years that followed, I used the struggles at work as an opportunity to empower myself and heal my working relationship with men. As fucked-up situations would surface, I learned to use my voice and harness my inner strength. I also stopped viewing all men as evil nemeses. Turns out, some men had my back and were my advocates. Men can be partners in change if I can put aside the stereotype that all men are douchebags. As I developed my own inner strength and boundaries, I became more comfortable as the only woman in the room. I began to see that men can only take my power if I give it.
And then, something miraculous happened. All of the assholes I didn’t get along with began to leave the company, with one notable exception: In a reorg, one of them became my direct manager. Luckily, even that turned out fine after our kumbaya moment established a mutual respect between us.
With the assholes gone, work became easy. I had friendly, collaborative relationships and I began to wonder about what’s next. I’ve always had a nagging feeling that being a corporate research analyst was not my calling, but I had no idea what I did want to do. I was already on a path of spiritual seeking. I read mystical books, studied Tarot, attuned as a Reiki practitioner, and dove deep into “Shadow Work.” To this day, I credit Shadow Work with making the assholes disappear from my office as I healed.
Though I didn’t have a clear picture of how all these pieces would add up, I couldn’t shake a need to further develop my intuition. There was a psychic school I passed by many times on Valencia Street. Some nights, I’d sneak a peek at their website, in the dark, so no one would see me. It was like forbidden fruit. I thought, “What would people think? Is this a cult? This is weird.”
I don’t know why or how, but I found myself taking meditation classes at the school, and eventually enrolling in their Clairvoyant Training Program. At work, I told no one, but hinted at my woo woo spiritual path. When I had to head out at 5:45 PM on the dot a few days per week, I told them I was attending an intense meditation course (which was true, just another way of describing the program!).
As I got closer to graduation, my fear around my hidden identity became stronger. I’m an analyst for god’s sake. The delta between analyst and intuitive psychic was too large for my naturally practical brain to reconcile. Much hand wringing ensued—How the hell was I going to transition to a career that embraced my new intuitive skill set?
That fall I graduated, and shortly thereafter I asked my manager if I could go part-time to free up time to develop my new business. My manager was very analytical and a preacher of data-based decision-making, so I braced myself for how he would react. I told a “sorta truth” and said my business was “kind of like a life coach, but with a spiritual twist.” He respected my entrepreneurial spirit and approved my change in employee status, working four days per week instead of five.
On my day off, I worked on my website, started a blog, opened an anonymous social media account, and began writing about the spiritual subjects I cared about. As the months passed, my days at the office were slow. I didn’t have very many projects, which I had flagged to my manager, but he seemed fine with it. At one point, I wondered “Is the Universe trying to bore me to death so I’ll take the leap?” The divine works in mysterious ways. As I looked out of the window of our office at the cargo ships moving like snails across the Bay, I realized it was time.
It was the beginning of 2019 when I finally left the corporate world. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I planned on consulting for steady income as I built my spiritual business, so I was careful about how I presented myself to my manager and coworkers. I knew I might need my corporate network to keep me afloat while I figured myself out. I thought if I was honest about the business I was building, I’d be judged: “What will they think? Will they think I’ve gone nuts? Will they question my ability as a researcher?”
Before I left, there were a few coworkers who seemed open to this woo woo stuff, and so I shared my website with a select few. One woman in particular was very intrigued, and as I said my goodbyes, she asked me if she could make an appointment for a tarot reading. I scheduled her for the next week, and there, my business began. Two weeks later, another ex-coworker emailed me. She had heard about the reading I had done the week previous and wanted to experience it for herself. A month later, another ex-coworker emailed me to schedule a reading.
If you’re looking for me to say, “…and then I became a full-time tarot reader and lived happily ever after,” then sorry to disappoint you. As I gained clients for my spiritual business, I depended on research consulting gigs to pay the bills. And, there was a trade-off to all my former coworkers coming to me for readings: I’d clearly been outed at the office. I worried what my ex-boss must think of me.
Six months after my departure, the office was being moved to Southern California, and I was invited to an office-closing reunion. I was so excited to see everyone. Mingling with my ex-coworkers, I noticed some were standoffish. It took a minute for me to realize it was due to my being outed as a tarot reader / psychic / energy reader. My identity at the company was “analyst.” You know, analysis with empirical data with math and all that shit. My new identity — analyst of tarot cards, chakras, and the spiritual realms—is not everyone’s bag. I get that.
In the moment, this weird vibe triggered my anxiety about what my ex-boss would think. He was due to the party but was late, his signature move. A couple of hours in, he showed up. As we saw each other across the room, I could see the glad look of recognition in his eyes, and I knew everything was okay. As we greeted with a hug, he asked me how things were going with my business. I was honest and said that I’m still getting things figured out, and asked him about his move down to Southern California. He laughed nervously and said, “If I’m honest, not great.” Giving a coy smile, he continued, “Maybe if I had made an appointment with you before my move, I wouldn’t have done it at all.”
My heart warmed and my body relaxed. There was an understanding between us; we were all good. The sigh of relief wasn’t just about getting a potential gig, but the release of shared truth between the two of us. Even though our relationship had begun with animosity, we had built a deep respect for each other over the years, which I now understand can’t be so easily broken. His acceptance of me as my authentic self uncovered something surprising. I feared his judgement, but it was me who was doing the judging. I judged him as closed-minded, immature, and unforgiving, when I was the one behaving in those ways! I felt sad that it had taken us so long to get to a place of authenticity in our relationship.
The following month, my ex-boss contacted me for a project. Other ex-coworkers continued to give me work or recommended me for gigs. Despite my resistance to staying at the Company in the early years, me sticking it out meant I was able to build trust with my coworkers that propelled me into this next phase of my life. I got my first clients for my consultancy, as well as my spiritual business through the Company. Not to mention, the free lessons in embodying “the Divine Feminist” within challenging situations! If I am not fully in my power, I can’t provide effective spiritual guidance for others. I may have stayed on grudgingly in those early days, but the Universe gave me my medicine because it knows what’s best for me.
Now that it’s been a couple of years, I have to be honest: I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I suspect I never really will. Telling people I am a tarot or energy reader is still hard, in a world that prefers you to be something less weird like a research analyst. I still sometimes feel the pressure to have the perfect plan and excellent execution of said plan. But, if I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that perfect planning does not exist. In absence of guarantees, I’ve focused on shoring up my groundedness and stability, so I’m ready when the leaps of faith do come. I never know what version of me will surface next.
Rev. Bonnie Ho is a spiritual counselor, energy reader, and author of the Living in the Third Eye column for Jumble & Flow. After spending most of her adult life trying to prove her own worth through an analytical career, Bonnie found a spiritual path that led her back to herself and her own heart. Now, Bonnie aims to help others heal their wounds, find their joy, and embrace their intuition and true desires, in a grounded, balanced way.
Bonnie is available for spiritual guidance and energy readings. Visit bonniehoinsights.com to learn more.
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