Two years ago, I woke up at 6 AM every day sick to my stomach. I got up, got ready for work, and hopped into the car where I stopped by Tim Hortons and pick up a Steak, Egg and Cheese sandwich and a Mocha Iced Capp. I would proceed to take a few bites on the way to work, then would promptly eat a few more when I came in (I was usually the first one in the office, so I was able to stomach a few more bites before others started to show up). Then I would likely place the rest in the fridge for later, hoping I’d have the time and stomach to finish it for lunch. I don’t remember if I finished most of the Iced Capps. It probably depended on the day.
Why I dreaded going to work
I would start my day just trying to get things ready for my very tight deadlines. I remember feeling semi-okay at these times, because even though others were walking through the doors and getting ready for their day, I really liked my coworkers. There was a great team dynamic, and they seemed to really like me. I didn’t mind them at all. The important thing was that he hadn’t come into work yet. He was likely still in a meeting, or out doing something business-related. I didn’t really care what he was doing, just as long as he wasn’t showing up at the office, I was fine.
But he would inevitably show up. I had a great vantage point of the parking lot through my window, so I saw everyone come and go. When his car pulled in, my heart raced. My stomach immediately grew into knots, my breath would become shallow and fast, and I had the urge to throw up. My chest hurt from the tightness it was feeling. I immediately thought “What is he going to yell at me about today? What did I inevitably do wrong now? Will he fire me? I hope I get fired. I hope he doesn’t talk to me. Why does he have to be here? I can’t do this anymore.”
Confession: I’ve never been one who responds well to shouting. I shut down, always have, so having my first “real world” boss literally shout at me and act extremely unprofessional at times was… nerve-wracking and unnerving, to say the least. Especially when I had work experience with various other leaders at this point who were far more professional and understanding. I knew I was making mistakes, and a lot of those talks were justified, but this really wasn’t a learning environment. This was a “Get your shit done now, get it done right, or you’re screwed” environment. My coworkers tried to warn me, but I was too starry-eyed that I was getting my first “big girl” job to listen. “It won’t be that bad,” I thought. “I’ll be okay.”
Did those stars die real quick.
When I made the decision to leave
I left that job because I couldn’t mentally and physically take it anymore; and took a vacation soon after I put in my notice (they already knew I was going on the vacation, I just have great timing), and having lunch at Dairy Queen while we were driving to North Carolina. I remember looking up at my grandmother, who was my travel buddy, and said, “This is the first full lunch I’ve had and have actually been able to eat in over a week.” It was a cheeseburger, fries, and a Blizzard. I remember being happy that I could eat most of it and keep it down during the trip (both from the remaining nerves and car sickness).
Before I gave my notice, I remember talking to Brian about everything that was happening. I was debating quitting, but wasn’t sure where I’d go realistically. I’ll admit, I was hoping for something from Michigan Creative, but wasn’t really expecting it. At that point, all I wanted was for people within my industry to tell me that what I was experiencing with my current boss was wrong, that there are better jobs out there, and that I could find one. I wanted to be told that I didn’t absolutely suck at what I went to college for. I wanted to know that I was good enough for what I wanted to do. What I wasn’t really expecting was for Brian to say, “Well, come back and work with us!”
But that’s sure as hell what I did.
After leaving the previous job after being let go early, I went back to Michigan Creative where I was met with open arms. They offered 10 hours a week, because that’s all that they could afford back then. I had to continue doing the roll I did before, because the podcasts still weren’t edited from when I was there (a month before), and someone needed to pick up on social media again from within the office. I snatched those jobs up so fast.
Where I’m at now
Now, I am a full-time Social Media Manager (and whatever else is needed). I take what I can get, and I try to help everyone on my team because we’re all busy as hell and need a break sometimes. I like viewing myself as the bottom of the funnel: Everything that no one else wants to do gets passed down to me, and I love it. I’ve done Graphic Design projects, Video, Script Writing, Digital Advertising, Social Media, and quite a bit more. I’m definitely not a “master” of anything, but I have enough hats that I at least know how some things work, even if I’m not too sure why.
I look back at my experiences at my previous job and am so happy I left that full-time job for my dingy little 10-hour a week, $10 an hour job. I look back at my previous boss and compare him to my current, and I’m so glad I made the change. Sure, not every day is perfect, and there are a lot of days where I am stressed beyond belief and can’t breathe because of deadlines. But that’s just it: It’s because of the deadlines, not who I have to fear. Not all the time, anyway. (High Anxiety fun, am I right?)
My advice to those who feel stuck
Now, I know not everyone can leave a full-time job for a 10-hour job. But I do encourage you, if you’re in a similar situation where you’re literally sick every day, hate your job and who you work with, and just need an out: Find a new job now. Start blasting your resume. I didn’t want to leave unless I had a job already on stand-by to take it over. Start getting your replacement job now so you can move on to something greater. It’s cliche, but life is too short for you to be this miserable. Go out, find what makes you happy, and chase it. Get a therapist (because they’re super helpful), and remember what it’s like to breathe again.
You deserve to be happy, your feelings right now are valid, and you deserve so much more happiness than you are getting right now. Get unstuck, start searching for a new position in your life, and find your happiness.
I traded a toxic work environment for one that heals me every day. Now it’s your turn.
When I see where I am now, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.