The recent week or two of work issues surrounding my resignation have brought on a mix of feelings.

Resignation, the feeling not the act, is a big one because I’ve finally realized that some defectively run systems simply want to be that way. Or they quite literally cannot not be that way because they’re not aware of their defects and do not want to be made aware. This is sad to me. One thing I’ve said many times over the years is that I’m grateful for the times I’ve aggressively or even cruelly had the errors of my ways point out to me.  I’m grateful (which is not a word I bandy about) because some of the harshest truths that have been pointed out to me, about me, have led to the biggest leaps in development I’ve ever had as a human.  I’m far more self aware, because one or two mean jerkoffs in my past accidentally made me aware of the idea of self awareness, and you cannot go backwards from that.

I even believe that in the current instance – where I’ve been brutally, even self destructively abrupt and honest in what I’ve said to and about others throughout my resignation interviews – that as much as some might not like me right now, they’ve learned from what I’ve said and the fact that I wasn’t afraid to say it. Shoot the messenger, I don’t care all that much if the messenger is me, but hear the message. I haven’t come out on top here, or acquitted myself…um…calmly… but small things changed almost immediately for the better for the staff here because of my big mouth.  That’s something I feel good about even while knowing that others are gloating over what they see as my fall.

The other feelings wafting about are a mix of relief, anticipation, motivation, disgust, sadness and disappointment.  But there’s also peace. Peace because no matter how I’m perceived, I didn’t compromise my integrity.

The big realizations I had just last week about the job I’m walking away from were like another one of those face slaps you hate at the time but which lead to personal growth. That realization is that this job, in this place, did nothing for my career.

Yes, obviously I’m in the process of changing careers so why should I care?

I’m not talking about my job I’m talking about career-life as a worker.  In talking to one of our doctors last week I voiced something I’ve pondered for years here which is that there are only a very few people, out of about a hundred, working in this department whose careers have progressed because of working here (his, for example, and he agreed).  We don’t do any great depths of professional development, clinically or in personal growth. In fact that sort of thing is almost worked against, and only happens as a going-through-the-motions rote clinical requirement.

The only professional progress that occurs here is a very rare move into very few supervisory positions (almost entirely based on temporal seniority)….or leaving.  This is a company that restricts us working for any other entity in the country after leaving here. This is a company that expressly forbids reference letters by seniors, on company letterhead.  This is a company that doesn’t allow any education leave for clinical staff who aren’t doctors.

This is a job that I would put on my resume, but it is not a badge of honor or pride unlike most of my other positions. We work in a massive gilded lily, filled literally with marble, chandeliers and decent infrastructure yet if it wasn’t for the need to fill a 5 year gap in my work history, I don’t want to claim it as mine.  To anybody who’s worked here, there’s really nothing over which to gloat, although outsiders might be impressed by the name or geographic romance of it all.

This is the first time in my life that I haven’t felt pride in where I’ve worked or what I “accomplished.”  It’s the first time I’ll ever leave a job feeling like I wasted my time and learned little – besides Arabic and what not to do as a leader.  It pains me to feel that way, although I am grateful for what I have learned from the people I’ve known here who were truly great colleagues.

I didn’t realize really why I got to this point of career change, until last week, and it’s such a simple little thing I’m amazed I didn’t recognize it sooner.

I’m a contributor by nature. In every position I’ve ever held I’ve tried to be aware of the entire organization, as much as I could, and to contribute ideas or work or suggestions where I thought I could.  And I’ve never really cared about credit.  In the past if I thought of a process or spreadsheet or action that would make someone’s task easier, I would suggest it or simply create it and give it to them.  I naturally did so when I got here, but that nose dived quickly through the years down to nothing. 

I guess it’s never been an issue because my contributions have always been appreciated and accepted  ….until here.

I realized last week that I stopped creating solutions and handing them over freely a couple years ago, and never realized the insidious changes inside me.  This place has made me competitive, in ways I’ve never been before.  It’s made me resent having my ideas summarily rejected or contributions begrudgingly implemented in someone else’s name.  I’ve learned not to give anybody my work, rather I want the authority to do the work myself. Primarily because that outcome is so rare.

In the past I never cared.

I’ve always been sarcastic, even caustic, but genial.  Here I’ve been little besides angry. Since my first few weeks, I’m always angry.  And I don’t deserve to be that person.

I used to create systems, suggest them and implement them myself to help the greater team along. I never thought twice about it, it made me happy.  Now I’ve become someone I dislike. I’m morphing into exactly the kinds of people I loathe working with here.  In my case I realized I unconsciously started hoarding suggestions or ideas. Now I’ve “learned” to not suggest them or only share them if I’m guaranteed to get credit and implementation authority.  The alternative is calculated insult upon injury.  Being systematically disregarded, or disagreed with, undermined and told I’m entirely off base without them ever bothering to consider what I’ve said.  

This place has instilled some sort of fear in me that I never had before, and I want it gone. I don’t want to be this person, and I don’t want to work with those who contributed to me changing.

I guess this is why one of the primary needs I’ve expressed regarding career change is my desire to fix things, change things, improve things.  Before I just did it. I never felt the need to do it, because I was never prevented from doing so.  Not being allowed to, for so long, has corrupted my nature and the instant I realized it a few days ago I felt the urge to crawl out of my skin and purge who I’m not. 

Thankfully I recognized it unconsciously 6 months ago, and chose the creative career change path when I did.

13 Responses to Resignation Musings

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Now I’ve become someone I dislike. I’m morphing into exactly the kinds of people I loathe working with here.”—When one works in an unpleasant or toxic work environment, this can sadly happen. Scary, isn’t it?

    Hope things work out okay during your transition to something new. Got your email and replied back. I’ll be pretty scarce in the blog world this summer, but I hope yours is a good one, complete with new opportunities that let you get back to the person you want to be. 🙂

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks Carrie 🙂 Realizing I’d stopped *wanting* to just give contributions without defensiveness was kind of a shock. Good thing I’m leaving now.

      Good luck with your summer mission! Maybe a simple photo journal of one pic posts of where you are or what you’re doing? Carrie in a lab coat. Carrie with a screaming toddler. 😉 Carrie at a Continuing Ed seminar surrounded by impossibly attractive pediatricians she can set up with her single friends? okay, that last one was a little much. 🙂

  2. Good luck to you. Glad you had the courage to stick up for yourself. Where will you go?

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks. I have no idea where I’ll go, but I know what to watch out for, and what questions to ask now. I have a few leads, but I’m willing to accept suggestions! 🙂

  3. Congratulations on a brave move but sounds very much needed! I’m happy with my job but have definitely had ups and downs here. What you say here sounds so familiar. What was happening during rough spots did change me and not in ways I liked or wanted to be. Good news is, it’s temporary! My personal experience was, finding a better situation changed me back to the energetic, positive, mission-oriented person I’d always been. So I’m optimistic for you! I’m also a sharer and contributor at work. I think it’s an under-recognized but very important trait when you have it.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s great to hear that the bad traits go away! I told my former divisional director that my chest aches all the time. She said it takes about a year to go away once you leave this place. And my former manager (because this place purges all the good staff) has implied along the same lines. Thanks for the encouragement! Contributors need to stick together! Have you read the book Quiet, about introverts? She makes good points about who the most valuable workers are, contrary to popular thought.

      • Wow, that place sounds extremely toxic. I haven’t read that book but thanks for the tip! Will check it out. I am halfway between introvert and extrovert. Very confusing to live with but I can’t get away from myself too easily. I am enough of an introvert, though, to get annoyed by all the people who talk talk talk. I had to leave a neighborhood party once because everyone started looking like yapping Pez dispensers. I like those people, it was just too much. The introverts give time to think through things deeply and that’s very important!

        • Andrea says:

          yapping Pez dispensers! Ha.. Yep, I’ve experienced that. I left a birthday brunch last month after 40 minutes because the background noise was so loud I felt like I was going to burst into tears. It doesn’t happen often but some stimulus is like Chinese water torture sometimes, and the other times, no problem (I’m also an ambivert). But still, read Quiet… or watch the authors TED talk. Good summary.

  4. I worked for a nonprofit that promised the world to us, yet had unrealistic goals, a chaotic and disorganized work flow, and the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing. But they attempted to make it seem as if all of the employees were the problem. So instead of asking for input to find solutions to the problems, they ended up laying all of us off, after 3 months of actively trying to force all of us to quit by lowering pay so we couldn’t qualify for unemployment. Till this day, I’m still tempted to write to the founder about how shabbily they treated us and demoralized the appreciation we had for the work we did supporting conservation efforts around the world.

    Kudos to you for telling them what they needed to hear. As I’ve been told in the past, “You can’t unring a bell and you can’t unhear something you’ve already heard.” Hopefully it will lead to positive changes for those you leave behind as you move forward on your new path.

    • Andrea says:

      Thank you so much! It’s a sure sign of poor management when, rather than wanting to hear input, or actively try to improve themselves, leaders instead clap their hands over their ears and go “la la la la la” to drown out input, and then purge dissenters to “fix” the problems.

      Not sure if you’ve heard of or read the book Waiter Rant, written as a tell-all by a former waiter. I borrowed it recently, because I’ve been putting considerable thought into doing something along the same lines for most of the years I’ve worked here. On the other side of the coin, I’ve read business articles that writing a tell-all or doing what I somewhat did and you’ve thought of doing – letting ’em have it – is considered deeply unprofessional. I guess the thought being that future employers wouldn’t want or trust an employee who would do that. I’m torn on it. Professional suicide obviously isn’t attractive, but in some cases I think teaching the lesson is more important than shutting up. 😉 Ooh, maybe a website or book of peoples letters to former employers? 🙂

      • Oh my gosh that would be epic! I struggle with the thought of being considered “unprofessional” if I ever came around to writing that letter. But I feel that being a rank-and-file employee, keeping your mouth shut, and following the status quo has been another factor that’s contributed to the tailspin most industries have been going through these past few years. Everyone is too polite to raise issues that might step on employer’s toes and are too fearful over their job security as it is. With no one sounding the alarm on internal failings things are more likely to fall through the cracks.

        Btw after being a waiter and a flight attendant myself, I’ve been tempted to write my own tell-all books hahaha!

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