An Honest Story of Grit in the Workplace

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Career
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Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced some type of hardship in the workplace. Now raise it a little higher if that hardship manifested into a more painful ordeal that led to you second-guessing your role within the company.

Hey, hi, how ya doin’. I see you and I’m here to let you know . . . #same.

It’s so incredibly easy to talk and rave and brag about work when things are great. Whether it stems from a new opportunity, a sudden promotion, or a raise you fought valiantly for and received . . . that swelling pride you rightfully feel from an outstanding experience in your nine-to-five can quickly transform into boastful word vomit, ready to be spewed onto any and all listening ears that pass by (ew, sorry for that icky analogy lol).

But what about the times when things aren’t going so great? Maybe you missed out on a well-deserved promotion. Or you were shot down (a little too quickly, too) when you approached the topic of a salary increase. Maybe you switched careers and felt the pains of that transition. Or maybe, just maybe, you were laid off. As easy as it is to chat about the highs of your career journey, it’s equally hard to admit when things are at their worst. Especially when everyone around you seems to be doing just so. dang. well.

Whatever it might be that you’ve faced or are currently facing, you surely aren’t alone in it. And you certainly have the grit to get through.

My Story

It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling some type of way toward my current work situation — and not a very loving type of way, either. This disappointment sparked waaay back in September when I realized that I wasn’t being paid enough, and then grew furiously when my request for a raise was disregarded more than once.

Side note: For the record, me asking for a raise was not done because I simply wanted more money. It was a valid request I made once I recognized that I should be making more because it’s what I rightfully deserve. I was sure to arrive at those negotiations with plenty of evidence that supported my fight, but, unfortunately, was not met with equal excitement or desire to change things.

But what originated as just the all-too-familiar realization that I wasn’t receiving the financial recognition I deserved quickly escalated into that plus fear over job security and a lack of confidence in the direction of my role when most of my team (read: pretty much all of my team) was suddenly let go in November.

It was shocking, then heartbreaking, then completely infuriating.

How could they up and dissolve this small-but-mighty team I had been a part of for nearly three years? How could they cut ties with these individuals, these incredible individuals, who shaped not only the job we showed up to perform each day but me, personally? Yes, I enjoy writing and feel blessed beyond belief to be doing it for my career. But the people I was lucky enough to work alongside made me genuinely excited to come into the office and do it all. These folks made the job for me. And finding peers like that doesn’t happen all too often anymore.

With this unexpected change, I effectively went from being dissatisfied with my pay to being dissatisfied with the entire framework of my job.

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 2.46.38 pm

Source | Jena Holliday

I felt their absence deeply the following days. I wore their dismissal on my sleeve like one might wear their heart . . . in this instance, I was clearly upset and increasingly frustrated. I was unwilling to engage with those who offered undeserving apologies and asked how I was doing, afraid I would say something ignorant or something I might truly regret. Or cry, because I was just that emotionally unstable lol.

You might be thinking, “Why were you upset? You’re the one that still has a job.” And you’re right. But while that is true, I also didn’t come out of this experience untouched.

The nature of our jobs as copywriters is not cutthroat like others might be in different industries. My team supported and grew alongside one another, and more than that, we rooted for each other. There were engagements and weddings and babies and homes purchased along the way — many things worth celebrating. So instead of feeling relieved that I somehow managed to keep my job, I felt their sadness and their anger and their fear for the future together with them. And I couldn’t help but feel like I was partly responsible. If I hadn’t moved to Tennessee, would things have turned out differently?

For a minute there, I was pretty hopeless and quite frankly felt like the only viable option was to leave the company. Aside from the recognition that I wasn’t making enough money and the lack of action taken to remedy that fact, I no longer had the support of my wonderful team. So why should I stay? What was keeping me there? These were the things I seriously contemplated as everything else around me seemed to carry on as usual.

A couple days after the dust settled, I was able to chat briefly with two now-former teammates. I left those conversations holding tightly to their genuine hopes that those of us remaining on the team would proudly carry on the quality of work that we’d come to be expected to do. So instead of making any rash decisions (like quitting), I absorbed and reflected on the sudden changes I was experiencing, knowing well that what was waiting on the other end of it might just be worth my while.

Coincidentally, while all of this was going down there was a company-wide focus on the importance of having grit in the workplace. Ha. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Merriam-Webster defines grit as “firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” While there wasn’t any apparent danger that required any certain amount of grit to confront, I think it’s safe to say there was plenty of personal hardship that needed some serious attention and some type of resolution.

It wouldn’t be truthful to admit that I didn’t spend the first couple of weekends after the so-called “restructuring” dusting off and refreshing my resume as well as perusing job boards here and there to keep my options open. But while I was at work, I tried really hard to shift my saddened and angered mindset back to neutral, understanding that my attitude would not reverse anything that had been done. I came to terms with the fact that as long as I was still employed where I was, I could either make the most of my circumstance or let it get the best of me. With a bit of determination and visibly clenched fists, I pushed through and chose the former.

Words to Take With You

It’s likely that what you’ve gone through or are currently going through isn’t a carbon copy of my experience, but I hope that in that long-winded story you were able to find something you could connect with . . . something that could remind you that you are not alone when you quietly admit to yourself that you’re not happy with your job. You are not your circumstances (past or present), and you do have the ability to change whatever it is that might be making you feel discouraged.

You have the grit to get through.

There are definitely still some weighty struggles I feel today as my now-tiny team navigates the recent restructuring (not to mention the dang money issue that’s still looming over my head), but instead of leaning into how disappointed I am, I have been regularly working on adjusting my frame of mind when it comes to my job and the company I work for. By focusing only on the good and positive aspects of my day-to-day, I’m hoping that my time here will seem more meaningful when it’s all said and done.

Feel free to adjust the following to align more with your experiences, but I wanted to share a quick mental exercise I practice to keep me on track to staying positive. I hope it can help shift how you think, too.

When I’m feeling frustrated with my current situation, I remind myself that:

  1. Having to go through something like this is making me a more resilient and well-rounded person
  2. I am so lucky to be employed and have a steady source of income, regardless of if it’s my dream job or not
  3. I am continuing to utilize, perfect, and build on my existing skill set
  4. I have a job I can structure a decent quality of life around, one that includes plenty of self-care and time off
  5. It’s only eight hours of the 24 in a day
  6. When it comes down to it, I am not stuck . . . I am allowed to leave when I feel the time is right

When I start to feel complacent and like my current role isn’t fulfilling:

  1. What are some changes I can make within the framework of the job I do to make it more enjoyable?
  2. What are additional tasks I can take on to make me a more valuable asset to the company?
  3. Is there an opportunity to take a course to learn a new skill? If so, explore that.
  4. Can I put extra time, energy, and resources into a side hustle to get my fix there?
  5. When it comes down to it, I am not stuck . . . I am allowed to leave when I feel the time is right
screen shot 2019-01-24 at 2.47.02 pm

Source | Pinterest

I hope you leave A Thousand Candid Words today feeling less alone, more inspired, and ready to make some positive changes in your career.

M


Source of Header Image | Electric Confetti

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: I Survived Whole30 — How’s This for an Honest Review? – A Thousand Candid Words

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