Two months ago, I made the very difficult decision to step down from my casual job on the side – working with disadvantaged children and young people with learning difficulties. I absolutely loved the kids I worked with but the management, who I considered to be close friends, were not great and treated me poorly. So, in my new ‘let’s me assertive’ plan for 2018, I decided enough was enough and I handed in my notice. I wrote a post when I handed it in here and an update a week later here.
8 weeks on, I’m absolutely certain I made the right decision – for me, anyway. I no longer feel stressed or the additional pressure alongside my other job. I realise now I wasn’t looking forward to going to my sessions anymore because the management had put so much work on me that I was dreading what I was walking into every Tuesday evening. I was making the best of a bad situation, which wasn’t fair on the kids as they deserved more. But I was making the best with the resources I had – and I didn’t have any support from management with the additional workload they were putting on me. When I asked for support, they would snap at me or brush me off.
I have been friends with the two directors since 2014. After what happened whilst working for them, and the way they treated me when I decided to hand in my notice, I made the decision to remove them from my life as friends. I deleted them on social media and their families. Not one of them contacted me after deciding to leave – they got one of their wives to respond to my resignation and neither of them have been in touch since to say sorry or wish me well or say ‘no hard feelings’. They have confirmed that they did not see me as a friend – just as another employee they could wring their hands of.
I’ve learned since that even if you’re in a position of trust where others depend on you, you must think of yourself first and put your needs before theirs. If you aren’t happy and aren’t looking after yourself, then you are not in a position to look after others. Self-care and self-respect are often things we neglect and it has a huge impact on us in the long-run. So it’s important to look after ourselves first – mentally, physically, emotionally – so that we can remain strong for those that depend on us.
It worked out, in the end, that leaving was actually the best thing to do without taking into consideration the lack of support and how pissed off I was on a weekly basis. My main job is busiest from April to July so I’m actually right in the middle of my hectic time at work – putting in long hours and swimming in tasks and emails. So leaving has allowed me to put my focus into my job, which I love, and take off the additional pressure of ‘oh shit, I have to leave work now to go to run my session’. I don’t have that stress of worrying about which task is more important. I can just put all my energy and focus into one job and go home to relax.
I do miss the kids terribly. A couple still text me now and again – though not as frequent as in the immediate aftermath. Not only have I had to learn to move on from them, but they’ve also had to do the same which is difficult for somebody who has spent a long time learning to trust. They had a show on just a couple of weeks after I left, which they asked me to go to, but as it was being held at my previous place of work and the management had not been in touch, I felt out of place and uncomfortable swanning back in. I also felt it wouldn’t be helpful to the kids as it would give them false hope seeing me in the audience. They would be looking to me for support and guidance and I’m not their tutor anymore. It’s all very sad – I’m sorry for how it’s worked out.
At least I’ve learned now that working with friends isn’t a good idea. They have to be a boss and can no longer be a friend – and when they decide you can’t be both and they can’t treat you well and must assert themselves upon you to make them feel they are a ‘boss’ – then it’s time to leave it behind. I had so much respect for them – they knew the darkest parts of my life and the experiences I’ve had and continue to have. I looked up to them, watched their families grow and supported their business at every step. But, they didn’t have the same respect for me and I decided enough was enough. I’m tired of being the friend that doesn’t say anything and stays quiet. I’m sick of being the person that people don’t feel bad for walking over because I don’t rise to it.
No more. I am being assertive and doing what is best for me now – nobody else. Quitting my job was the first step in hopefully a positive journey going forward.
So, my top tips for those of you who are unhappy at work:
- Don’t stay in a job that makes you unhappy to the point of borderline depression. If you wake up in a morning – or you’re about to set off to work and you think every time ‘I feel sick at the thought of going to work at this place’ – then you’ve reached breaking point and it’s time to think about what’s best for you. We all have times we think ‘ugh, I can’t be assed with work today’ – but if you’re feeling absolute gut-wrenching dread before every shift, you’ve got a problem.
- If something is bothering you, say something – don’t hold it inside. If you receive no support from those who are supposed to be there to look after you and ease your burdens at work, then you have your answer. You aren’t respected enough to be taken care of and you deserve better.
- It’s usually not possible for many of us to just quit a job we hate or is making us miserable. Some have children and/or a house to pay for – but if a job is making you mentally unwell, then sometimes you have to stop and say ‘this is not healthy for me or my family’. If a job is making you mentally unstable or unwell, then you’re damaging yourself every single time you walk through those doors. Previously, in a job I was bullied in, it got to the stage when I was having panic attacks at work and my hands would sweat with anxiety. My manager made me physically and mentally unwell – and in the end, I got a sick note to cover me for a month, handed in my month’s notice and didn’t work it. I stayed home and looked for another job.
Look after yourself – you cannot be there for someone else if you’re not there for yourself.