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Unbreakable: standing up and quitting my job

By 3:25 PM ,

At this point, the circumstances surrounding why The Incident occurred don't really matter. What I can say is that there was some disjointed communication and lack of clear instructions (in my opinion) and therefore what I produced was not what my boss, and the President of our company, expected. I sincerely believe she was/is in the wrong and that I was not provided with coherent instructions to understand what was expected of me and she felt that I just have been able to glean and infer what she expected. 

She began work (it seemed) on a very important proposal last Thursday. I helped her Thursday and Friday. I continued to work on Monday and Tuesday, while she was out of town. We communicated almost exclusively via email and the messages weren't simply between between me and her; they were also with a man from another firm she was partnering with. The emails were actually more between her and him than between me and her. 

Nonetheless, I was stressed about figuring out what I was even supposed to be doing, and completing some of the tasks on the list that were logistically difficult (like getting the printer to print out names on the tab dividers, which it was not designed to do). I stayed late on Tuesday evening working on the proposal and didn't get to take my lunch Thursday, Friday, Monday, or Tuesday.

Wednesday, the day the proposal was due, she was visibly angry when I got into work. To be honest, I was quite angry as well, because I felt like I had been thrown under the bus a bit, as I had never received the clear check-list of what she wanted me to complete, which I had specifically asked for. Instead, I had to repeatedly email her for clarifications on what I was supposed to be doing. She was angry because she felt that I had decided not to do anything at all, and had not stepped up to the plate. In reality, I made myself a checklist based on our final conversation Tuesday evening, and went home after I felt I had done everything that was expected of me.  

After lunch on Wednesday, she sat me down and asked me how I felt that the proposal had gone. I told her, frankly, that I felt like it was a train wreck. I cited the jumbled communication and the unclear expectations. But then I very quickly realized that she felt that the problems within the proposal had been of my own and my own choice not to 'step up.' She accepted none of the blame for the situation, and instead felt that I had slighted her.

The talk quickly spiraled out of the context of the proposal and into my job performance in general as well as my future endeavors. She went on to yell at me for every thing she had had an issue with in regards to my job performance within the last year and a half that I had worked for the company. You didn't do that. You failed at this. I didn't like this. I tested you here and you failed. I was frankly quite upset with this, as "I've only been supportive of you since you started here!!" was not an excuse to suddenly lay me out for everything she had wanted to say things about in the first place, but the line was crossed when she stepped into my personal life and my future. She said, "If you really think you did your best on that, then you will fail in life. It will be too hard. You won't be able to manage a classroom of even two year olds. You will fail as a teacher. And kids in general? Forget trying to be a mother. You won't be able to do that, either."

After those comments, I didn't feel like I was getting a job review. I felt like I was getting harassed. 

Despite the fact that I was visibly upset, she continued to berate me over things like keeping my desk clean, refilling the drink supplies (why don't we have a 'you take one out, you put one in' system?), etc. It was like she wanted to make me feel as little as possible. She stuck the knife in, and then twisted it a few times. I thought perhaps she was hoping I would walk out the door and never come back.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt quote as a motivational poster, via Buzzfeed

I recommended that since I was so upset, I should take the rest of the day to calm down and then we could start fresh the following day. Because no one wants a sobbing receptionist in their lobby, right? Instead, she told me that I did not deserve that. 

I spent the rest of the day trying to hide out, breaking down cardboard in the parking garage and hiding in the basement. 

I discussed my options with my mother and with Chase and decided I needed to have a chat with my immediate boss/superior. During that talk, I outlined the situation and stated that I had felt harassed, that I felt she had crossed the line of appropriate behavior during a job performance review, that I had felt her comments were cruel and pointed, and that I was no longer comfortable working for the company. I told him that I was not necessarily giving my two weeks, but that I felt it was going to be best for me and the company to part ways. 

For the first time, in days, I felt in charge. I felt like I had stood up to something that was wrong. I had been mistreated, and I had calmly reacted and said I would not stand for it; that the way I had been treated was not okay. 

The next day, the president learned that I had basically resigned, and we had a much more mature conversation. I told her that it felt like she was trying to get me to quit during The Incident, that I felt harassed, and that I honestly had misunderstood her in several ways. I told her I didn't feel emotionally safe or welcome, and that I was no longer comfortable. She said that millennials are different than the people that she's used to dealing with and we're not self-starters, which is something I very much disagree with. Every generation is very different from the generation that begets it, but since the beginning of time, adults have been claiming that young people are lazy, weird, and going to ruin the world, so it's just not a valid statement. I did not mention that I felt that she had procrastinated the project, which would've stirred up more stuff. She told me that making me quit was not her intention. I think she intended her little talk to "straighten me out" and "get me in line." 

She asked me to try to explain what she could've done differently, and why I quit, and I tried to explain that the best way to reach out and change a person isn't to attack them and tell them that they're going to fail, but to try to understand, empathize, and show that you genuinely want to help them because you believe in them. I actually watched a video on this in regards to the classroom about a month ago. If your students fail a test, don't berate them, tell them they're lazy and if they don't suck it up they'll never succeed. If your students fail, re-evaluate your own methods and be kind when discussing the test. This video originated in the about the '60s. When I told her about how I believed (and apparently research proves!) you should interact with a person, she said that it must just be a generational thing, because that's how she was told to straighten up when she was younger. Change, or fail. Change, or your life will be miserable. Again, that video was around when she was young. Teachers already knew that they needed to be kind and not threaten their students. 

Again, despite our conversation, it still seemed like her message was "it's you, not me."

Today, a couple days after The Incident, I am 100% certain that she did not mean for me to quit. She did not mean to drive me away. She sincerely believes that she had given me a stern, yet reasonable talk encouraging me to become more organized or fail—although my main concern with the proposal was that the material was not presented to me in an organized and reasonable-to-follow manner. While this is unfortunate, I do not necessarily regret my decision to tell my boss that I could not remain with the company. Regardless of the intentions of her speech/berating, it was cruel, demeaning, and honestly crossed the line. At that point, the only power I had was to choose to take myself from the situation and illustrate how NOT okay The Incident was.

Why yes, my desk is too messy (although I cleaned it ferociously after The Incident), but the fact that I am messy stems from the creative spirit within me. I get distracted, I pile things on top of other things. But the fact that I am messy and often toss my clothes in the floor beside my bed rather than walk to my closet and throw them in the dirty clothes hamper has no weight on how I plan lessons for my future classroom, nor will it impact how I manage my classroom. Yes, my desk may be messy, but many teachers have messy desks! I have a 4.0 in grad school. My disorganization is in no way impeding my ability to succeed (and I have always been notoriously well-organized when it comes to schoolwork). I might sometimes have a collection of cups on my bedside table, but that will not make me a bad mother.

Again, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt quote as a motivational poster, via Buzzfeed

**Thanks to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for being incredibly funny but outlandishly empowering. I love that show!

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