To keep a job, or not
Part of the reason I left Toronto for adventures in South America was that I had grown tired of the rat race. On paper everything was amazing. I had a thriving career, a great salary, I was working for a reputable not-for-profit organization, I owned property, I was able to spend summer weekends at the cottage, you name it, I had it.
But it came at too high a price. I found myself working in environments that were toxic and emotionally unhealthy. I have never identified with my job, I know who I am sans my occupation and title. Even though I worked for reputable health organizations in Toronto, it wasn’t the kind of thing I would spend my personal time discussing with friends. In fact, I often refused to socialize with work colleagues because I resisted the need to gossip about work outside of work. Plus I had a wonderful life and shared it with people who knew me for who I was innately, and not how I performed in my job.
Over the years my friends have sought my counsel in trying to make a decision if they should leave their current job. My advice to them is consistent: If you’re unhappy, and you have exhausted all avenues to correct the situation, then yes. Even if you have yet to secure a job to transition into, leave. Why do I say this? Because employers will never give a second thought about giving you the pink slip. It doesn’t matter how many years of loyal service you have given them. The days of loyalty are over. I have worked with colleagues who have devoted over 15 years of service to their place of employment only to find themselves disposed of when a new CEO appears with a new “vision”.
I have also worked with individuals who truly lacked empathy and compassion for their peers. They had bought into the notion that their lives were synonymous with their occupation, and they would do anything to protect it. Somewhere along their journey, they became trapped in a life they never really asked themselves if they wanted. And now, to pay for the car, the mortgage, the kids, the summer holidays and what have you, they were in a hell of their own making.
To put it bluntly, they lived their lives based on socially accepted norms and standards, and did not actively pave their own way. They could not separate their happiness, from their job.
Luckily I could and I still can. I have no regrets leaving behind my career. None whatsoever. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to it. I can’t imagine sitting inside a cubicle for seven hours a day attempting to avoid office politics and co-workers behaving like teenagers.
With this philosophy I’ve become fearless. I’m not 24-years-old anymore afraid of losing my job. If you see an employer behaving badly, don’t emulate his/her style, challenge it! No matter the cost. Stay true to your convictions, and don’t compromise when you know something is completely unethical or mean-spirited.
When I moved to Buenos Aires I taught English for the first five months and then found a maternity leave contract position with the possibility of renewal. It offered stability, a relatively reasonable salary, flexible hours and the choice to work from home, which I relished. To top it off, I got to write, daily.
During my first week I met with the owner who appeared excited that I was beginning this new adventure with his company and he expressed vivid interest in keeping me on past the contract, because as he put it, there was more than enough work.
I have received countless praise from my colleagues and my supervisors regarding my performance. Even the clients have told me personally what a wonderful and refreshing job I have been doing.
Two weeks ago I spoke with my supervisor and told her that my three months were almost up and inquired if they had made a decision about my future role in the organization. I said that it’s okay if they don’t have room for me in the budget, but that they would have to let me know so that I can be free to look for a new job. She said to me that she was keen to keep me, and was meeting with the owner this week to discuss the parameters of my new role. I said fine. Just let me know.
I received a message yesterday saying that they would not be able to give me an answer regarding my future employment for another two weeks. I paused. “So what you’re saying is that in two weeks I may not have a job?” She answered, “Yes.”
Well that simply wasn’t good enough for me. She then began to tell me how I had to prove the strength of my articles by filling out yet another spreadsheet documenting how many unique visitors each article received. I was a little dismayed by this, because you either know if you want to keep me on, or you don’t. I’m not going to be jumping through hoops with the slim chance that you’re going to hire me on as a full-time employee, especially since I come to the job with more years of experience than my colleagues.
Anyway, I thought it over during the evening and realized that this was not the way I was going to allow myself to be treated. I resigned this morning effective the end of the month. It was the right thing to do.
I don’t know why employers think that they have all the power in these situations. I’ve lived through and seen too much staff turmoil in my life, and I recognize red flags from a mile away. If you can’t give me a definitive answer about my future in the company, and are attempting to convince me that you’ll know in two weeks, I don’t know, I just smell a rat. If I was alone, broke and single, they would be holding all the cards to my future, and that’s not fair.
I don’t play games, and I am certainly not a fan of ambiguity.
Life’s too short.