I said I’d explain why I have a lot of time on my hands nowadays.
I worked three years at a tiny company. There were four of us in the office at the beginning, technically seven by the time I left. Had eight supervisors in the field, thirty – forty laborers working.
I spent most of my first year without much training. I found things to do, figured things out on my own, and learned my own ways of dealing with things. Google Docs became my go-to for everything, from making our daily schedule mobile to having my plant lists available to everyone in the office. I took care of a lot of stuff. Everything from helping with payroll to managing up to 15 projects at a time, to being the go-to person for how to spell something, what correct grammar was, where to find something on our server, why their computer wasn’t working. What address or job number one of our projects was that I could come up with by memory.
I’d been unhappy for a long time. There were a lot of positive things about this job – things that were very unique to being in a small business. But there were bad things too. Things like favoritism, and taking on far too much with too little recognition and too little pay. The anxiety of answering the phone with people listening and the ball and chain of having to answer a phone that was 95% spam calls. Feeling so exhausted when I got home that I couldn’t muster the energy to do anything. Not reading. Not writing. So much time that I didn’t write and it hurt like mad. So much time I felt guilty and like I was missing a part of myself. Feeling like my relationships were suffering because I suffered so much in the eight hours I had to be at work every day. Being lied about to my boss. Suffering abuse from people who were jealous and vindictive when all I wanted was to be left alone and be able to do my work. I didn’t even want compliments, they embarrass me. All I wanted was for people to know that I was doing a ton to make the office and company run and to be treated as such.
There was such good there, too. When you’re at the center of most of the company’s workings, you see a lot and there are such good things. There’s being able to laugh and joke with the people you work with every day, to get a smile on your face from the things they text you that relate to work. To be able to be proud of knowing that the work you’re doing directly affects the product that’s delivered. To be proud that some of the people who come in contact with you recognize your work and appreciate it just as much as you appreciate theirs. To have the opportunity to work with people outside your company that are so generous, and kind, and are reliable and do good work and you sing their praises every day because you appreciate it so much and it makes your job that much easier. To know that you did what you could to make everything in each employee’s life run smoother, as much as you could within your power to do so. To be able to bridge the gaps between people’s strengths and weaknesses and what was needed to keep everything going.
The worst thing was being unable to fight to stay. To be told that “we’ve noticed you’re unhappy” but being powerless to change it, or even be asked how it could be changed. For the abuse to stop and to be paid according to the work I did would have been enough. To not go home and worry about money every day. To not feel like shit every time I came home. To feel like I could go out to eat every once in a while or buy my favorite bottle of wine would have been enough. But I didn’t even get to present my case. I was sent away with a package of checks and tears in my eyes. I shed so many tears in that first week. It was like a breakup. Worse than a breakup. You never realize how much time and effort and self you spend at a job until you leave, especially not really on your own terms.
The good news is that ultimately, it is for the best. There was a ton of grieving at the start, and I still don’t even want to go to the town that I worked in. Our projects we had are all around me and the place I live in is very, very small. But it’s getting better. I can talk about it without bursting into tears. I’m going to be okay. I’ve been feeling my self-confidence come back little by little in the past weeks, and knowing that I am capable of so much is reassuring. I learned so much and took on so much and taught myself and was taught by others so much that is going to transfer to other things. I’m looking for jobs and looking at job descriptions and thinking “I could do that, no problem” even when I don’t have the exact experience they ask for. I feel like I can write again. I’m looking for freelance writing and ideas for making my own videos and looking to start streaming and learning to code. Even though it came from a very painful channel, I have this immense opportunity to go where I want to go. And although this whole experience deconstructed my life and left me feeling like I was treading water at first, I’m remembering how to swim — slowly but surely.