Man, the past few days have been really hard on my ass 😩. Last week I was reflecting on my former career path and while looking back a flood of negative emotions overcame me. It’s so hard for me not to be angry with myself for ignoring every sign that was sent my way, every sign that warned me to change my path. I’ll be real with y’all, what really bothers me most is I can’t even give myself a reason why I pursued that career path so hard. Not one single reason!
When I first started my career I was studying for Law School, so I wasn’t really too invested in it. It was just a job I did from 9a-5p, then I went home and studied. After I took my LSAT, I was already out of school for a year and a half and really had no desire to go back. My score was good for 5 years in case I changed my mind but I was sort of over it. So, I decided to pursue the career path I was already on. The pay from my first job was horrid, so I decided to go to a bigger company for slightly more pay. Huge Mistake, I’m talking HUGE! Despite the pay, my first company was offering to teach me skills and a different career path that would make me way more money. However, I wanted something fast and I ended up leaving for what would be my DOOM! 😩 You know what’s crazy, I told two people who I was working with the new company I was going to be working for and they laughed so fucking hard. I would never forget it. It wasn’t until years later that I would understand that they weren’t laughing AT ME, they were laughing at the fact that I thought I was moving on to something better, when in fact I was moving on to something worse.
If I was to say my second job was a nightmare, I would be sugarcoating that shit. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m some sort of angel, I know at times I was a huge dick 🤷🏽♀️. I did what I could to contain that ignorant part of me😩😩, for as long as I could 🤣. However, dealing with passive-aggressive behavior, sexism, racism, demeaning slander and not being able to fight back starts to take a toll on you. Being labeled an angry black woman when a white woman with the same attitude, drive, and dedication, as you are praised, can drive you to depression. Working at my second job should have been the fuel for me to change careers, yet at that time I blamed it on the company, not the actual career path. I felt like no matter where I went I would always deal with some guy I work with staring at my breast (geesh, pay me at least), someone telling me that my work is phenomenal but they don’t want a disgruntled African American on their team and they want to help me get from the back of the bus😳, or someone copying everything I do and getting promoted for it. I figured if I went to another company with a different environment, it would all change. Right?!
WRONG! Over the next few years and different companies, I pretty much dealt with the same bullshit masked with a different odor. However, by this time I’ve become so good at my job and so comfortable, I didn’t want to consider changing paths. I endured the low pay and bullshit, which was ironic because I’m always quick to leave a relationship when it goes wrong, so why couldn’t I do the same with this career path🤔. Sometime during 2009, I was having a conversation with one of the Vice Presidents who I really looked up to and I was explaining to her how much I really loved my career, and she interrupted me and ask “but, does it love you back?”, I felt like I was in marriage counseling or some shit. “I work hard every day why wouldn’t my career love me back?”, I thought to myself. However, just like those two coworkers who laughed when I was leaving my first job. I wouldn’t figure this out until years later 🙁.
Years went by, and my work was improving yet I kept hitting a glass ceiling. However, there was no glass ceiling for people who I’ve trained or have come after me. I keep hearing how phenomenal my work was yet no rewards or appreciation were given. Instead of pushing myself into something different something more challenging, I stayed and let myself get angry. It ate me up inside that I would have to train people who got promoted yet I was still going nowhere (YES, you read that right, people would get promoted over me and I would still end up training them on something). I started feeling the constant pressure to overwork so I could prove a point, had unprompted bursts of anger because wasn’t being valued, and was extremely depressed. I won’t lie to you guys, there was one job that had me so fucking depressed I walked out on my lunch break and never went back. I knew it was unprofessional but when I tell you I was about to BREAK! I literally couldn’t do it anymore. And just to show you guys how bad it was, they STILL paid me my two weeks after I walked out, so you guys can imagine what went down. Similar to my first job, who gave me a raise then fired me two weeks later, then gave me shut up mon– I mean severance and unemployment. Yup🤷🏽♀️!
Anyway, despite it all, I finally found a company that I loved. The people were awesome, my boss was AMAZING and I saw room for growth there. Something I never saw at any other company I worked for. The pay wasn’t great but the fact that I knew I had a chance at a manager position was enough for me. However, within a month of starting at this new company, a Takeover started to happen. And just like that, I started to get that faint smell of bullshit that I thought was finally left in the past. After about a year or two into the Takeover, my manager, the one and ONLY manager in my entire career that gave me hope, was laid off! At this very moment, I knew my career was over, and again instead of leaving and starting something new. I stayed and drove myself into a deeper and deeper depression. Talk about riding it until the wheels fall off🤦🏽♀️! Despite my proven work ethic and knowledge, I was never given the chance to be a manager or let alone given a ‘Senior’ title. I watched as my former company ran my department into the ground because they rather let people with absolutely no experience run the department instead of promoting me. I guess in their eyes I’ve only proven myself as a workhorse, not as a leader. My work was phenomenal but I did too much talking back, I asked too many questions and I didn’t do enough shuckin’ and jivin’, I kept acting like I was one of ‘them’ (you know, entitled).
I knew a layoff was coming soon, since they didn’t want to promote me they just passed me off to another department with a position that I knew was destined to fail. How did I know? First, there really wasn’t much use for the position, Second, before I transferred someone that I respected (one of very few) in my old department told me “we can’t save you anymore” and last, the VP from my old department told me “we noticed you have been smiling more and being more positive so we decided to grant you this new position”😳 fuck proven work ethic huh?! After that, I bowed out gracefully, moved some money from my investment account, and patiently awaited my layoff. I honestly wanted to quit, I had to resignation letter typed and ready to send over to HR, however, one of my coworkers talked me out of it. She said, “girl, let them lay you off and pay you, don’t leave that money on the table”. I knew this would be my last run in this career, shit I was over it, I was over Corporate America, so I waited. I continued working and my five-year anniversary came around. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate five years of failure, five years of being stuck in the same position, five years of going nowhere but backward. Because I didn’t want to celebrate, the CFO who knew he fucked over my career countless times with his inexperienced leadership mumbled “why are you here if you don’t want to be here?”😩😩… (of course he didn’t say it to me🙄) Guys, I couldn’t be mad at what he said because he was right. I’ve always had the power to get up and change my career path but I didn’t because I was comfortable. So what he fucked up (countless times), I had the chance to walk away (several times) so I could never be angry at that statement.
Anyway, the Universe always has a way of showing me things and during the end of April 2020, I was laid off! It was like a load was lifted off my shoulder. The career path that I started in 2005 was over. Now, it was time to try and heal from my career trauma so I could move forward. Right now, I’m so scared to pursue another career because what I’ve been through the last 15 years in my previous career may happen again. I’m scared to give anyone another 15 years and get absolutely nothing in return. For the past two years, I have been running my own businesses and the thing that haunts me the most is I could have used those 15 years I gave to Corporate America on myself. But, I guess I wouldn’t be where I am today and able to run my companies without those 15 years of abus– I mean experience. I definitely left my former career burnt out and traumatized. However, with this healing process, I’m working on gaining back my trust, confidence, self-worth, passion, disciple, and more. Putting the pieces back together isn’t easy, shit is fucking hard but it feels 1000% better than wasting away in a career that doesn’t give a fuck about you.
Enough of me venting, have you suffered from career trauma? What are some of the things you are doing to help you get through it? Share your techniques below, anything helps.