(I promise the title of this blog will make sense at the end.)
It’s so easy to get caught up in what a blog should be: frequent content, SEO-friendly pages, topics that’ll draw readership in, et cetera. For someone like me, who’s been working in marketing for (oh my god) five years now, it’s even harder not to feel guilty when something as professional as my porfolio/blog isn’t up to snuff. My way of dealing with this is often reminding myself I have more important things to worry about, and thus, my thoughts go unwritten.
But now I have time. Time to reflect, time to absorb, to finally take a step back and process things. It’s been a long time coming.
2018 started off with a considerable bang: a shiny new job at a marketing consultant agency in a role that I felt more than ready for. At the tail-end of the previous year, I put in my two-weeks at my previous workplace (I won’t name it out of courtesy, but it also doesn’t take a genius to look it up) in a move that I can wholly call my most badass moment of my life so far.
Long story short was that a change in the company landed a guy that our team already wasn’t super fond of in the CEO position, and my manager/friend knew it would only be a matter of time until he was let go as a result. He assumed that he would survive until early 2018, but 10 days before Christmas he was let go. I was working from home at the time so I had to hear about it via post-firing conference call between myself, my team, and my least favorite person at the company.
“It’s nothing personal,” he insisted one too many times to be genuine. “For now you’ll all report up to me directly, so you’ll all need to step it up.”
I almost responded with a bitter laugh. We were a small team of three, plus one temp, supporting a company that spanned 80 countries and we only had one graphic designer. How much more could we step it up? Sure, he did mention that that temp would be a permanent hire in the same breath as our manager being let go, but that was so poorly timed it was practically a punch in the stomach for the poor girl at the rate it was delivered with bad news.
The CEO didn’t care and/or wasn’t aware of the situation, and I remained polite and tight-lipped and pleasant-sounding about the whole situation while my heart plummeted into my stomach and my heart pounded hard. I had been struggling with anxiety because of this job for half a year and now it had quadrupeled in one swift swoop. I was almost ready to call my doctor and request an appointment so I could up my dose!
But sometimes life times things out perfectly, because two hours later I received an offer at what is now my present workplace. I remember leaping up and running to my best friend across the apartment, squealing incoherently that I got it. That I was free. I was safe! The relief that swept through me almost brought tears to my eyes and for a few minutes I just sat on my bed and finally felt like I could breathe again.
And then… then the perfection of the timing of it all really hit me. The very next day, feeling more empowered than I ever had in my life, I marched into my HR director’s office and handed in my two weeks. When I cited the reasons, a pained look of acceptance crossed her features and she nodded along in quiet agreement. She knew about the problems with the CEO and admitted she was on our side, and asked if I would be all right. I said that I would. No reason to mention I already had a job lined up — it would lessen the impact, and I didn’t feel guilty about lying to the remaining C-level employees. They had wronged me, directly and indirectly, in several ways already. I wanted my leaving to shake them and the HR director assured me it would shake the whole company. It felt good to know that my voice would be heard.
My teammates, when I told them, admitted they had figured this would be the next step. I never grew particularly close with any of them, even after working there for two whole years, but there was a bit of camraderie at the end. I think the person I’d miss the most at that company, aside from the sweet HR director who also moved on shortly afterward, was the secretary whom I had developed almost a casual mother-daughter-like bond with. She was happy for me, though. I appreciated her support a lot.
Anyway, that all happened on a Friday while the C-levels were out for various reasons, and with my manager fired, it fell upon the HR Director’s shoulders to take the steps necessary to inform them of the situation. The next day I was helping out my best friend Shannon at a photoshoot when I received an email from my favorite CEO, and in order to share with you the most vibrant description of how I felt, all I can do is quote it directly:
I was informed about your decision and while I respect it, I would like for you to click the pause button and have a chat together on Monday morning. Sometimes we overreact emotionally to events. It is understandable. Sometimes that reaction comes from a certain conditioning on how we are used to or were advised to see things. So, that emotional reaction can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. I like your work, I see potential for growth and would like for you to be open and see if we can paint that bigger picture together.
It’s been months since I received this and it still makes my blood boil. I don’t even have to describe him further. The very words he wrote is enough to paint the gross comic book caricature of a condescending, slimy businessman that I sensed he was from day one. Regardless, I forwarded this to my HR Director and requested she be present while adding how insulted I felt by the above. Then I, with honeyed words of amicable politeness, accepted his invitation to chat.
To be continued.