I didn’t know how to quit my job. It’s probably partly because I am stubborn and partly because as a society we have been programmed to think that quitting is not an option, it is just giving up. I think this is why I stayed in a job that I hated for so long. I am talking 6 months of waking up and crying because I did not want to go into work. It was so emotionally draining. So why didn’t I quit? I wish I could answer that question because to be honest, I have no idea.
I think one of the reasons was because I wanted so badly to be in a work environment that made me feel grown up. I know that sounds ridiculous but I was 20 and just so ready to work even though I was still at uni. I had even convinced myself that this was it, after moving around in different retail jobs as I moved interstate and tried to balance my studies, I thought I had found a job I could settle into.
Bullying and harassment in the workplace is something I don’t think is talked about enough openly. I’m sure many people have been affected to some degree and I don’t think it is fair that the person who has the courage to stand up and admit that the situation is not okay, is the person who ends up being shamed. They are seen as weak, that they should just suck it up and get over it. Does that sound fair to you?
For me, speaking up became one of the hardest things I had to do. I had to fight for what I felt was my right to be treated with respect at work.
As I said, bullying and harassment in the workplace can take many different forms. For me, it came in different stages. It started with comments designed to make me feel that I wasn’t good enough. Then one day after lunch I went back to my desk to find all of my mornings work deleted from my computer. My boss acknowledged this and I changed my password.
It began to be a game for her, and the energy it was taking for me to try and fight it, and to remain the better person was literally wearing me out.
The day she pushed me in the hallway I walked out. I should have quit then. My boss chased me out and asked me to come back. I thought I needed that job, I know I needed the paycheck. So I did.
Things didn’t get better and I didn’t stop trying to defend myself. At the end of the day I was still within my probationary period so I guess it was easier to see me go rather than deal with the more difficult problem.
I felt like a failure. Like I had let my family down. But I also had this other feeling trying to push its way through. It was relief. I didn’t have to courage to leave, and now I was gone. This was exactly what I needed.
I got another job quickly but it probably took me 6 months to find myself again and to gather any confidence in the workplace.
Even now, it’s been 5 years since I left that job and it still impacts me. That fear of failing at work almost stopped me from applying for roles when I finished uni. It was too painful to think about falling into another situation like this.
In the last 5 years I have been in a few different roles as I completed my studies. I have been able to form lasting relationships with people and I have have learnt how to enjoy work.
I have grown, I have gained confidence and I have taught myself that even when I am afraid I am strong enough to get through it.
Without this experience I wouldn’t be the employee I am, and I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today.
If you are experiencing bullying or harassment in the workplace I encourage you to speak up because you are not alone.
* The photos in this post where taken on my trip to Ravenswood earlier this year.