The other day I came across this post that really spoke to me about work and stress:
“You are killing yourself for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead. Take care of yourself”.
This post stood out to me because I just left a job for this very reason. Everything just felt wrong.
Stress from not fitting into the culture
The comical thing is, they won’t replace me in a week. They have to have 100 meetings first and talk it to death, then decide about putting it on LinkedIn. I’m still waiting for the updated laptop from IT after 10 months. Death by a thousand cuts to me comes in the form of useless small talk and meetings and never moving forward. My job was a creativity killer and forced me to be someone I’m not. And although it would be easy to blame the people I worked with or the corporate office, it really came down to me. I didn’t fit into the cookie-cutter layout, assinine rule-following, and the “hush, hush” corporate way of dealing with problems.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. I value honesty and openness so how do you try to be something your not?
Trying is what brought me to a place of stress and illness. I was trying so hard to be a good employee (according to their standards), to work in an atmosphere that didn’t allow me to creatively add to it (let’s just keep doing things as we’ve always done), to value a job that I couldn’t see the outcome of (we don’t want to pay for your to fly to your event–you aren’t worth the money), to play by rules that made zero sense (let’s hire skilled people but then fly in consultants who take over their departments), and to be a person who enjoyed corporate web calls, meetings, and people never remembering my name (even though I told them 10 times). I felt invisible on so many levels.
When I left, I realized for all my efforts, they didn’t care. I was busting my ass and trying harder every day to be a corporate monkey, but after all that, I got a “there’s the door” response and then nothing. I was falling apart physically with random allergic reactions, depression, and anxiety. I literally slept the two days after I quit for hours at a time. It’s been a week and I’m already feeling 75% better. I’m still trying to unravel what my part was.
When No One Listens
I waited way too long to stand up for myself. I was trying to please everyone else because having a job in corporate meant having a paycheck. Sometimes our jobs define us when they shouldn’t. Am I any less valuable because I left that job?
No. I’m still the same Michelle, but without a weekly paycheck. And without stress hives.
The thing I hope I can encourage others with is that when something feels off, it probably is. I know I saw the red flags early on in my time at the job. The way they fired people without cause, the backstabbing gossip, the two-faced personalities, the constant talk about money, money, money, and the lack of empathy towards real people. I will not miss that place one bit. (I will miss a few of my co-workers who made that job a little less hellish, but it isn’t worth my health.) If you see red flags, don’t ignore them.
Listen to your gut. It’s firing off warning signals for a reason.
If everything happens for a reason, I think having a negative experience has taught me a few valuable things about myself. Consider these points when the red flags go off:
- Placing more value on other people will always end in disappointment. You have to value your feelings, thoughts, and opinions too.
- Waiting too long to quit or end it will cause more stress. If I would have ended it in month 2 instead of month 10, I would have saved myself a lot of resentment.
- Other people don’t appreciate you as much as you think. I walked away thinking my co-workers would care about me, but that was merely an act. Sometimes you don’t see the real person until it’s too late.
- If you feel sick, unwell, and sad, it’s time to walk. Don’t waste one more minute feeling terrible. Your body is telling you something your brain doesn’t want to accept.
- There is more to life than the job (or relationship or project). A week after leaving, the air has cleared, and guess what? I have a job interview. Life is looking up despite how it ended. Everything is temporary and if you can get past the anger and the bad experience, life will open new doors.
Although this experience is still playing out, I hope that sharing it will help you. You don’t have to stay somewhere just because the unknown looks scary. Take a leap of faith. Trust me that leaving is the hardest part. Once you are free, you are open to exploring new things that promote wellness and getting back to yourself.
Have you ever left a job because it was toxic, not a good fit, or causing you health issues? How did you handle it?