I quit my job; reliable paycheck and incredible benefits along with it. And it feels amazing! I had always hoped I would transition to my passion of photography, writing, and blogging, yet I always thought it would come together when the time was “right.” As we all know, the timing is rarely ever “right” to begin with.
I had been working full time as a secretary. I took the job because the people in the office were wonderful. I loved the atmosphere, I was learning new skills, and it had great benefits unlike anything I had ever seen. Unfortunately, a little over a year in I started facing harassment from a new employee. We often think of bullying as something that plagues schools, but it happens to adults more than we think. The awesome part about being an adult is that we are never truly stuck. As children we have to return to school and face that bully every day. As an adult, we have choices and I chose to protect my well-being.
I am sharing this with you because this actually happens quite frequently, and there is little that we can actually do to change it besides to leave. Sometimes people may be difficult or mean and that happens. It is a learning experience, but this was something I had never seen before. This woman was a sociopath, not a figure of speech, but a real life sociopath. I had never met one before so it took me ages to figure out that nothing I could do could make it better. It started when she told me (yes, told me) that I was taking her family pictures for her Christmas cards last fall. When I told her I did not have the spare time she started a psychological war. This person did everything in her power to make me feel uncomfortable and threatened, like coming up less than two feet behind me as I was working at my desk to breathe down my back and glare at me. She has not spoken more than a couple words at a time to me in over six months and the first few months refused to speak to me at all. She sabotaged my work, went through my desk when I was out for lunch, and did weird intimidating things on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. One time in the bathroom she walked in, saw me at the sink, stared me down, screamed as loud as she could, looked me straight in the eyes, then walked past me like I was not even there. Bizarre.
I was stressed out and felt like I had to watch my back. It was a whole lot worse than I am even going to mention because I don’t want to dwell on all the bad experiences, but things like the bathroom incident happened in the back stock room and scary moments out in the parking lot. I actually felt afraid at times. I honestly felt that she would do me physical harm if she could get away with it. I put on my best face forward and let it slide off my shoulders and even tried to politely face her once, but that gave her the ammo she needed to continue harder. “So you noticed I haven’t been very friendly to you?” She asked me. “Just because we work together doesn’t mean I have to be nice to you.” She then accused me of being “condescending” to her and told me to “get out,” after she was the one to actually call me into her office.
I later discovered what she was doing was gas lighting, meaning she would do things and then make it seem like it was all in my head, even telling my boss that there was nothing going on and that I was not “as sweet as she acts.” She had a lie and excuse for everything. I went to my manager, my boss, and eventually HR and no one actually believed me, even though there were witnesses and other people in the office had also contacted them. According to a website about bullying in the office this actually occurs 80% of the time. Companies like to shove it all under the rug and 77% of the time the only way to end it is to quit. The corporation only cares about protecting the corporation.
So how did I know she was a sociopath? Her treatment of me was non-stop every day for over six and a half months. She would not give it up, some days walking by my desk every 10-15 minutes to show me how much she hated me. Sociopaths take great care of their outward appearance; their offices are clean and empty, they wear sharp clothes, act charming to people that may advance their careers, and treat people below them or that they perceive as a threat like dirt. They will not make eye contact with anyone not “worthy” and they do not have empathy or remorse for hurting anyone. People are pawns. This particular person had no empathy. At all. She did not mirror body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, or emotions which made her very unlike any human I had met before, but she could fake it in front of anyone she needed to use. Sociopaths are masters of manipulation and like to direct their negative attention to a target. I became one of those targets.
It is perfectly normal not to get along with everyone. In this world we will not meet eye-to-eye with everyone and that is ok. It is a learning experience. But if you run into someone absolutely trying to ruin you, please get away. This is not normal or safe. Be compassionate, try to solve the problem, and if all else fails, exit safely to your left.
I told my cousin what was happening and the next thing I knew job offers were pouring in. I took a part-time position at a law firm that I used to work at in high school and college. My cousin Ginger also works there and I am so excited to work with her. And most importantly, I will be able to dedicate my mornings to working full-time on my photography, travel blogging, and writing. I will have more time for family and friends, wellness, going outdoors into nature, exercise, making home cooked meals, and doing more of what I love to do. This new part-time job is my safety net as I leap into the career and life of my dreams.
Dreams do come true!
Because of that awful person my entire life has actually changed for the better. So while she is miserable (and she truly is a miserable person) in her little empty corner office, I am now leading a healthier and happier life. I have time for relaxing, reading, and meditating at home in the morning. I have time for exercise and having breakfast with my fiancé. I am marrying the love of my life, we are planning our wedding and a beyond-my-wildest-dreams trip through Europe (and maybe even Egypt) for our honeymoon, and I now have more time for the important things in life. I am officially off the corporate hamster wheel. I feel like I am really living again. I am creating a life that I do not need a vacation from.
So please, learn from my mistakes. Don’t get stuck. Create a life you love. If it means you need to quit your job then plan for it. Make it happen. Matthew and I spent some time figuring out how we wanted to live. We moved to a smaller apartment so we could save money on heating and rent and would have more time for what is important and less space to welcome in materialism. Matthew applied to college and got in. He is finishing up his first semester at the University of Bridgeport and I am so proud. We are designing a whole new life together. Life is much too short to do otherwise.
Be thankful for the bad experiences because they push you to create good ones. Live the dream, my friends.
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