At some point in our lives, we all innocently daydream about getting up, walking out the doors of our day job and never looking back. Not many of us have the opportunity or the push to forgo the routine and run for the hills. I didn’t either until the day something inside me snapped, much like Peter from Office Space. It felt like all of the tension had built up, and smacked me in the face like a rubber band. There’s got to be more to life than this, I thought, and there is.
I know how it feels to be tethered to a desk all day long at a soul-sucking, monotonous, customer service job. In fact, I jumped in the air and clicked my heels twice the day I got word our department was getting the axe. They laid off a couple hundred people; my husband and myself included. You don’t know fear until your household has zero prospective income to look forward to for the month. That’s old news though; today’s post is about a job I left voluntarily about six months later.
This time, I worked at a local doctor’s office as a medical assistant. It wasn’t a normal workplace environment from the beginning: more than half of the employees were related to one another. Promotions, and respect, were given to those with close ties to the family. Meanwhile my job was earned, not given to me; I didn’t have the privilege of being a member of that family. I won’t bore you with the disappointing details… but with the constant criticism, and feeling that anything I did (and frankly, excelled at) wasn’t “good enough” because of being a true outcast, I absolutely dreaded going into work every day. My first clue was on Day One of training; their motto seemed to be “sink or swim”, it was something they repeated several times a day. Meaning, they’ll toss you in the “water” with minimal help to see if you succeed or fail at what you were being taught. I succeeded, luckily. I do surprisingly well under pressure for short periods of time. Sink or swim.
Now that I mention pressure, there was a boat load in both my work environment and at home. My husband and I had just gotten married (while we were unemployed, I might add) a couple months prior; I was taking college classes and we had just bought a house. That dreaded six letter word, stress, had consumed me without a doubt. The patients were lovely people that I had built a relationship with. I truly loved what I did, but I didn’t love who I was working for. I just couldn’t juggle everything anymore, something had to give. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that I wasn’t getting treated with very much respect at said workplace by my peers on that Friday afternoon. Nothing new, but I had exceeded my bullshit quota that week. My bullshit cup had runneth over.
What happened next may strike you as familiar as it plays out in your head: I was in the lunch room one day, dwelling in my unhappiness. Staring off into space, daydreaming, once again, that I would fly through those doors like a bat out of hell and never return. Something was different this time though; today was the day that it struck me… I can. What’s stopping me? Yes, we needed the money, but I had just survived a terrifying period of joblessness. I was no longer a stranger to instability. I was feeling froggy, and I jumped. I made a promise to myself from that day forward that I would never again be chained to anyone or anything. I got up from that table, walked into the CEO’s office and told her how I felt about her company and her family members–er, employees. Then I got in my car and drove away into the sunset.
I had never felt so free, and like such a badass in all my life. It was an act of true love: I love myself too much to allow myself to be treated that way by anyone. Not once did I struggle afterwards. Not once did I regret my decision. Never again will I allow myself to be unhappy at a place of work. My time is too valuable, life is far too short. I’m very grateful for that job, for the groundbreaking lessons it has taught me. They tossed me in the frigid water to either sink or swim. I swam away.