I was just about to leave the office one evening when I received an email from my boss,
“Can we meet tomorrow for a few? Just you and I – want to discuss your career goals and professional development.”
Uh oh, that is not a good sign. I immediately started racking my brain, trying to figure out what I could have possibly said or done to provoke such a last minute meeting –– did I roll my eyes today? Was my last email on the snappy side? Did I not say hello when she came into the office this morning?
Whatever it was, she is on to me, and I will probably find a box on my desk when I come in tomorrow morning.
We have all heard it before: leave your feelings at the door.
Sometimes, that is just not a practical request. When you hate your job, there is no hiding it.
In order to compensate for a negative attitude, I would always act overjoyed when I got a new project or even sounded a little too enthusiastic over emails in the hopes of fooling everyone. After all, if anyone found out that I would rather get a root canal than head to the office, my secret would be out and rumors of my alleged departure would spread like wildfire. No matter how good I thought I was at hiding it, I knew I was going to express that hatred and resentment I had toward my job. As the stress of it all built up on my shoulders, I realized that I was becoming more and more transparent about my real feelings toward the organization.
Until I figured out a more suitable situation, I had to play by their rules. I had to fake it.
Much to my dismay, I found out that I do not have a poker face after all. At our meeting, my boss said, “I can see it in your face, Amanda. I know you are not happy.” Scared of what might happen if I agreed, I denied it — I denied it till the cows came home. Truth be told, there was nothing I could really say to refute her statement. My boss did not need me to tell her how I felt –– she already knew.
Then, she gave me the ultimate window of opportunity: if I was unhappy, she wanted me to tell her so she could help me.
Well, this looks like a trap if I’ve ever seen one. She wants me to tell her that I am unhappy? That yes, I have never worked in an environment so uncomfortable where I felt like my dreams were dying? I assumed that if I did bare my soul, the worst that would happen is that I would be fired on the spot. After weighing the pros and cons of divulging such sensitive information, I decided to go for it — how much worse could it get? With my eyes squeezed shut, I told her how unhappy I was every single day — no one talked to me, I was bored, and nothing I was doing captured my attention. I went even further and told her how I felt I belonged in New York working in fashion, the one thing that soothed my soul like nothing else ever could. I took a breath and opened my eyes — she was taking copious notes, jotting down names of all the people she could think of that could help me get started.
Puzzled, I asked her the one question I could not wrap my head around: why was she helping me? She told me that when she was my age, she was in the exact same position that I am in now: young, unhappy at work, and wasting her potential on a job she hated. She knew what she needed to do to make herself happy, and with the help of a mentor she started working in television. Essentially, she saw herself in me.
After much discussion, she told me I had to move to New York. I was a little taken aback by that, I will admit — just move? Just like that? Then, she read me the riot act my mom now says to me on the daily: I’m 23, I’m young, I don’t have any student loans, I’m not married, I don’t have a car payment, I don’t pay rent. And to drive it home, she added, “why stay at a job any longer when you’re not happy?”
How I Steered a Dreadful Job in a New Direction:
1. Put on a Poker Face
It’s not easy pretending to enjoy something when the very thought of going to work is almost unbearable. To cope, I was as mindful as possible of my words, body language, and facial expressions around my colleagues. I took the time to read everyone — those that kept to themselves, those that enjoyed gossip, etc. Most importantly, I refrained from talking negatively about the organization at the organization (If you are planning your escape from your job and it does not go as planned, the last thing you want is to hand others ammunition if you wind up staying a little longer than expected.)
2. Recognize Your Allies
When she first started as the Director of Marketing (two months after I started), we hit it off rather quickly. After working together 40+ hours a week for the past six months, she was able to pick up on my moods, tone of voice, body language, etc. Fortunately, she had high emotional intelligence and hinted that she was really in tune with my well-being and development within the workplace. It was only then that I felt confident enough to voice what was bothering me.
3. Be Honest
Not only was it important for me to be honest with my boss, it was important to be honest with myself. I wasn’t happy at my job, but I kept pushing all my feelings down because taking the next step seemed so much harder than what I was dealing with at the time. I knew deep down that I was doing myself the disservice if I kept quiet, especially when my boss offered to help me. After she encouraged me to speak up, I stopped pretending that I was happy when I was not and did something about it. I can say with confidence that if I did not open up to her, I would not have the guts to move myself to a new city like I do now.
Truthfully, I realized the only way I can chase my dream is to trust my intuition and go full throttle.
About the Author:
Amanda Pipich has a professional background in digital marketing, blogging, and writing. Just like she said she would, she moved to New York City on June 5 in order to chase endless opportunities. Living life in the Big Apple, she is busy networking, trying new things, and embracing the fast paced environment she always wanted to be in. Follow her on twitter @amandapipich.