Become Aware of What You're Gaining from Your Stories
We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way, be it in a healthy way or an unhealthy way. If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.
That is what was on my daily calendar on Tuesday, January 9. I had removed the January 8th one around 9:15 that morning, looking forward to a productive day after a pretty decent snowfall blanketed Oakland County the night before. Everyone in the office had the same Tuesday morning feeling - at least, that’s how it seemed to me. Little did I know several people in the office had a completely different plan for the day.
That morning, I had been cheerful with co-workers and started a few tasks to begin the day. I had mentioned to my mom just a few weeks earlier that I was starting to feel uneasy at work. I had been forced to move my desk from the same place I had been for two years (I tried to fight it but ultimately lost after months of working on it) and was told that I could no longer work with a Bluetooth earpiece in one ear. I had worked with one earpiece in for nearly two years and it made it easier for me to work with some background noise versus the intense silence around the office. I was used to working in noisy, fast-paced businesses with a lot of people around and here, all you heard was clicking on keyboards and the occasional cough from a co-worker. It drove me insane so I spoke with the Office Manager (at the time - she was let go in April 2017) and another partner about using my earbuds and they agreed it was completely fine, especially since several other secretaries had radios playing at a low volume at their desk and many others in the office worked with not one, but two earbuds in. Suddenly, I was no longer allowed to do this because others felt that it was stopping me from working at full productivity. This was frustrating because the entire reason I asked to do this was to improve my productivity, but what do I know about my own ability to work, right?
Shortly after starting my work for the day on Tuesday, January 9, I agreed to a meeting with the office administrator to discuss my workload, unaware of her true agenda. I walked into the conference room with a notebook and my coffee, cheerful and optimistic as to what changes were going to be made to my workload and which attorneys I would be working for next.
I had no idea I was about to lose my job of over two years barely two hours after walking in.
I sat at the table across from one of the partners, one that I worked for directly, and joked about the morning and a few other things (they’re a total blur to be honest). The office admin was in a moment later and sat down. In three short sentences, my entire life changed:
“Thank you for taking time this morning to meet with us. I hate doing this but I have to tell you that as of now, your employment with ********** is terminated effective immediately. Someone will be down with your things in just a moment and you will be escorted out of the building. We will pack up your desk and have your belonging shipped to your home later.”
I couldn’t believe it. My jaw hit the floor and somehow, the two people across the table from me thought that was a good time to ask me if I had anything to say or any questions. Are you kidding me? I have about a thousand questions and things to say! That was followed by a short lecture that completely contradicted the feedback I had been receiving from others throughout the office. I was finally feeling like I was gaining some traction in a cut-throat industry that I had no experience in before being thrown into this role. Months of asking for training and working with the office admin to get a set of training sessions was all for nothing because suddenly, I wasn’t good enough.
The next blow was unexpected, even for someone that had just lost their job: my health insurance was cancelled effective that day. Without falling into a rabbit hole of health insurance issues, I freaked out mostly because I had four appointments scheduled for the month. If only I had scheduled them a few weeks earlier, I thought.
I recall the partner and office admin staring blankly at me, asking if I had anything to say. “Um, yeah, I have about a thousand questions actually. Namely, can I ask why?”
The answer I was given was short and repetitive from what was stated earlier. I was not meeting the standard that they required.
So let me get this straight: I was hired with no experience, given inadequate training, worked tirelessly under a “learn as you go” mentality that seemed to be accepted throughout the office, asked questions whenever I could, asked for training on anything and everything I could, was told I would receive said training, then let go because I wasn’t trained in the job. GOT IT.
I was so dumbfounded, I could barely speak. The person that brought my belongings (purse, phone and coat) wouldn’t come into the conference room and set my things outside on the floor. I liked to think that he felt bad and didn’t want to face me, but who knows. I broke. I started crying as a million things ran through my head about what I was going to do next, who I would call first, what I would do when I got home, how I could continue on with the basics of life like car payments and insurance, groceries and gas. It hadn’t yet hit me that I was not able to go back to my desk to grab my things - my picture frames, my bobblehead from my old boss (that had retired just 9 days earlier, coincidentally), personal effects that I brought in from home. They even wanted to take my coffee cup - the coffee cup that I brought from home, despite my mugs going missing on the regular. I snapped at her, saying it was MY cup and I was taking it with me. She poured it out in the nearby kitchen and brought it back to me. I said that I at least needed my iPad from my desk and they must have sensed my anger because one of my two now-former co-workers went to get it. I can only imagine what my desk neighbor thought when someone went to my desk and left with my iPad, coat, purse, etc. I nearly left with my keycard, although I’m sure it would have been deactivated shortly after my departure. I had to offer it back to the office admin, as though she had forgotten about it.
As I walked out the side door, the office admin said “I’m really sorry about this, Krystle” and it took absolutely every fiber of my being to turn back and say “I don’t believe you for a second.”
How could I? Just days ago, I was told that I would be attending training courses in order to help me feel more confident in my ability to complete tasks. I had received a positive annual review and multiple people throughout the office that I did work for over the holidays (while their secretaries were out) had passed along positive feedback. There were absolutely no warning signs and I felt completely betrayed.
I put my coffee mug in my bag, not even caring if the remnants spilled onto my wallet, pulled out my phone and opened the group chat I had with two of my best friends and told them. I then sent a text to the guy I’m seeing, followed by a text to the secretary I was closest to in the office. No one believed me. I got to my car and called my mom at work. She answered and said “Can I call you back in a little bit?”
“No, no you can’t.” “What’s wrong?” “I just got fired.” “What?!” I could hear her dismiss whoever was at her desk talking to her. “What the hell happened?”
And then began my long drive home. I cried the whole way home. I can’t tell you why exactly - maybe it was because I was so unprepared for it. Maybe it was from driving by so many other businesses and offices I had applied at and turned me away, yet this law firm was willing to take a chance on me and my work ethic, or so I thought. Maybe it was driving by multiple apartment complexes that I couldn’t afford, but yearned to in order to make my commute and home life easier - all thoughts and hopes that were dashed in a matter of minutes.
I hung up with my mom at a stoplight and texted my former boss - the one that had just retired: “I just got fired. So if I could use you as a reference as I start a job search, that would be great.”
He wasn’t happy - and that’s putting it lightly. Very lightly.
“What the fuck!? Call me when you get a chance. If you want to. Absolutely you can use me as a reference. I’m truly sorry.”
The rest of the day, I sat on my couch, in tears. My mom came home shortly after I got home and tried to comfort me, reminding me that I had mentioned just days earlier how I felt uneasy at work lately. She said the one thing that had been running through my mind for the last 60 minutes or so:
“You were so miserable there, I think it’s for the best. It’s just not the best timing.”
She was right. I was miserable there. She knew it, my friends knew it, even my therapist knew it. I hid it as best as I could for as long as I could. It was not the job I imagined I would have when I walked across the stage at my college graduation. Yes, I was absolutely miserable - but I was miserable on my terms. I planned on being miserable at my job until I found a way out. This was not the way I was planning on. I was struggling with the idea that I would be stuck in this job with no way of applying or interviewing for another job. I had taken a personal half day to audition for a job back in 2016, which I didn’t get (obviously). That hurt at the time - bad - until the show was cancelled a few months later and I realized I had dodged a bullet, since I would have quit the law firm in order to do the show.
Prior to landing this job, I was unemployed for five months after escaping a terrible job at a hair salon, the first job I had since moving home to Michigan from Pennsylvania. I accepted the salon job out of desperation and a desire to get out of the house for my own mental well-being, it certainly wasn’t ideal by any means. It ended up doing more harm than good to my mental health. After that, I vowed to never again stay in a toxic work environment simply out of necessity.
If you’re new here, you may not know that I had a “side job” for the previous two years. I worked weekends and occasional weeknights as an in-arena hostess (and later adding social media manager with my last team) for a local FHL hockey team. This season, I took a break in order to look for a role with a team in a higher level league. Having my weekends back has been nice for my social life, but I missed the extra cash that the side job provided. It also made me a little depressed, not having my hockey fix on the regular.
So here I sit. I have no job wake up for in the morning, I have 75% of my former income (although I’m saving a hell of a lot of money by not paying so much for gas - it was anywhere from $250-$300/month), and I’m struggling to find some purpose in my day. But as I sit here, I have to look at the positive things:
I have more time for yoga
This is something I struggled with while working an hour away from home. Trying to find a studio and class that fit me and my schedule was very difficult. I now have time to do yoga on my own time and at my own pace. I feel so much better after a morning wake-up session or an afternoon pick-me-up session. Even five minutes of deep breathing and centring myself has been so beneficial to my mental well-being. It’s really sad that I couldn’t get time to do this when I was working at the law firm - considering that’s when I needed it most.
I have more time to write
Thus, this post. I started my website while working at the law firm and thought it would be simple to post every week. I could draft some things while slow at work, take photos when I got home and finalize and publish by the end of the week. I was so naive. When I got my lashes permed (more on that in a later post), I talked about it with the esthetician who also has a blog and she completely agreed. It may seem easy, but planning out posts, scheduling them for publishing, getting the photos taken and edited, layout perfected - it really is a lot of work. All of that doesn’t even include the promotion of the post/page for views in order to keep the momentum going.
I have time to get healthier
In addition to being able to do yoga every day, I have found that I have more time to exercise. Yes, I had a gym membership near my work and I actually really liked the gym. I simply found it very difficult to dedicate 90 minutes to a solid workout after a full workday, on top of an hour-long drive home, sometimes more in the winter. Now, I can get to my local gym within 10 minutes and I have a new workout partner: my mom! I’ve also transferred my gym membership from the location down by the law firm to one up near home, which just so happens to be the same one my best friend and her husband just joined. I now have more time to workout and I’m close enough to both gyms that I have no excuse not to go.
Plus, not having such a long drive to and from work has drastically cut down on my fast food intake. I'm no longer driving home, past dozens of restaurants while my stomach is growling after a long day of work. I'm no longer driving by multiple quick breakfast stops as I'm rushing to get to the office. It's been beneficial both financially and health-wise.
I have time to read
I have a row of books on the bookshelf that I am maybe ⅓ of the way through. I’ve made a goal to read one chapter per week. I have a terrible habit of watching Netflix on my Kindle until I fall asleep. I really need to break that habit and I feel like reading will help. I have a sound machine on my nightstand that I can use to drift off to sleep, along with a dozen or so apps on my phone. I’m hoping that reading will be beneficial to me on many levels. I tend to read a lot at the beach and on vacations, but I’m hoping to do it more at night.
Mostly, I have time to really focus on landing a job I truly want - I’ve tried for years to land a job in media and sports, but having the time to dedicate to a building the perfect resume (and in some cases, the perfect demo reel), keeping track of jobs posted and when I applied for them, going on interviews, following up with thank you cards - it can be demanding. I’m not going to lie: I definitely used some of my time at work to search for a new job. Can you blame me though? I was, in fact, miserable and I needed to find a way to be happy again. Staying there, with no room for advancement, no raise on the horizon and little to no support from my superiors, that was so unhealthy. I look back now and wonder why I put up with it for as long as I did.
Is this long enough? Kudos to you for making it this far down the post, because I feel like a rambling idiot right now. I guess I just needed to get it all out and hope that it helps with me going along in this process.
Next up: I’m joining a few podcasts as a special guest. Hopefully it will turn into a regular gig. I recorded my first one last week for the Ghoul Cast, a podcast my best friend’s husband directs. I’ll be recording for them again soon. You can find links to all episodes I’m on through my Twitter account (@KrystleHolleman). As for the other podcast I’m joining - well you’ll just have to stay tuned for that.
Boy was it. I remember New Year's Eve with my best friend and her kids, talking about the vacation my mom and I were planning to see them in North Carolina this summer (a vacation that the office administrator approved, knowing I was not going to be an employee come vacation time). Things looked so bright and I was really optimistic for 2018. Hopefully, I'm getting all the negative out of the way now and things will get much better as this year goes on.
Again, thanks for reading, and again, thanks for making it all the way to the end. If you have any comments - be it words of encouragement through this rough time or just a request for something you’d like to see - leave them in the comments section below or go to the Facebook page for the blog by clicking here and leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you guys!