I am free. After experiencing the worst two years of my life, I have finally finished working at a job where I was exploited, manipulated, bullied and devalued.
I wanted to quit almost as soon as I began, looking for alternative work within six months of starting. On the flip side, I had a stupid voice in my head telling me that I had to stay for two years as most advertised journalism jobs require a minimum of two years’ experience – unless you’re willing to work as an unpaid intern.
Another problem facing me is that I quickly became overqualified for other relative positions. When I was in university my favourite professor told me that, no matter how smart I may be, it would take at least 8-10 years to write feature articles for magazines (as opposed to short news stories). I certainly proved him wrong by writing my first 6000 word article within six months of graduation, and subsequent articles every month since then.
The problem with doing that, however, is that when I applied for jobs that didn’t require any experience, I was way more advanced than what they were looking for. It didn’t matter to me – I just wanted to get the heck out of there!
In March last year I spent the best part of a month to-ing and fro-ing with a magazine I actually wanted to work for. I made it through the final interviews, and basically had the job. But my contract required me to give one month’s notice, and that was just too long for them to wait when there was someone else ready immediately.
After being so excited to leave, I had to deal with the fact that I was staying. At that time my work was having its annual conference in New Zealand, and I promised myself that I would do whatever it took not to be there for the next one.
The only option I had was to give notice and then start applying for work. Backed by a completely supportive husband (he believes in me more than I do myself sometimes), I was ready to resign – but someone close to me talked me out of it, saying that unemployment never looks good on a resume. They said it would be too difficult for me to find work and I would have given up my successful job to end up working in a coffee shop.
My biggest regret is that I listened to them. I feel so disappointed in myself that I didn’t take action. I stayed at my job almost another year, just waiting for those two years to pass. My working conditions got even worse, as my manager piled more and more of his work on to me, while my boss – who lives in Europe – blissfully had no idea and thought I was slacking off while my manager was the star of the company.
Meanwhile I became depressed and hated every minute of my working life. I was doing the work of four people and worked many hours of unpaid overtime – yet I was still told that I wasn’t staying late enough because of my “precious” workouts. All I would want to do on Friday nights is drink myself silly, which says a lot considering I’ve never even enjoyed alcohol. On Sunday nights I would feel physically ill and cry thinking about going to work the next day. I had no energy for anything else in my life, except my training.
This job taught me a number of valuable lessons. Firstly, most people are incompetent at their jobs and will look to duck out of work whenever they can, while stabbing you in the back in the process. Hard work is rarely acknowledged and people will always try to make you look bad in comparison to themselves.
It also taught me some things about myself. I know I have the capacity to do something great with my life, but I should never doubt it. Some things in life are scary but you just have to close your eyes and take the plunge.
If you’re not scared of your dreams, they’re not big enough.
I know that I can never work a 9-5 desk job again. I have grown a lot of backbone in the past two years to know that I will never, ever let someone treat me like crap again. More importantly, I learnt that I don’t think I will ever be happy working for someone else. I want to be my own boss. My last two long-term jobs taught me both how to successfully and unsuccessfully run a business.
Don’t settle for being unhappy. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams. I constantly deal with people who hate their day jobs and it’s such a waste of your life to live that way. I will never again do something that makes me unhappy – unless there is a blindingly clear light at the end of the tunnel. I deserve better. Even if it took a career overhaul and an international move for me to change my life for the better, then so be it. I’m taking a risk and nothing bad can come of it, because I will always feel proud that I followed my heart.