I wanted to work at [ _____ magazine] since college and when I got that chance in 2007, I felt like I was finally on track to making my dreams come to fruition. Getting there was arduous. I didn’t have the easy path a lot of my peers had fresh out of college. Employment didn’t come easy (don’t you just hate people who get jobs right away), which forced me into a freelance life. Freelancing was a lot easier then because companies were willing to pay more for hard and quality work.
While piecing hustles together, I held on to hope that I’d get to [____ magazine] as a staffer. My moment came when I was originally going to be hired as their web editor but that fell through and I thought life and any chance at my dream career was over (I have a bad habit of thinking the worst of situations). Months after that, I began working on my dream deferred plan, which involved me teaching dance to 3rd graders and considering teaching academics full time. One day on my lunch break, I got a phone call that changed my life. Another position at the magazine opened and I was the first choice. At that point in my career, it was a step down to an entry level position (not a major step but I had two years experience in the freelance world in TV production and print, by then) but sometimes you have to make sacrifices when you’re working toward your dreams so I took the job.
A little over a year later–after I began carving my path at the company by obtaining more job responsibilities and a title change–I got laid off.
Companies always tell you it isn’t personal, but it’s easy to say that when they’re not the ones who will have to scramble for employment elsewhere. Today marks one year since getting the axe.
I was blessed enough to pick up freelance gigs along the way but I also experienced more of the unprofessionalism, selfishness and lack of respect for human well being that a lot of businesses have (and these are businesses that you think would have it together) for their employees–especially for those who aren’t official staff. Yet some how I’m still afloat. I’m not homeless thank God, but I miss my economic freedom. Despite my dope resume (I can back it up!), I can’t even get an interview (job searching is as fun as getting a root canal with no novocain). I know that my field has been hit hard (And why did I decide to be a journalist again? Ugh), but clicking reply–either “yay” or “nay”– about my application status isn’t hard. But I digress. I won’t complain because I know a lot of folks who have jobs who are either modern day slaves or work for asinine bosses (or both). I’d rather be broke and sane.
It’s hard to keep the faith but something keeps me moving so I haven’t taken off my gloves yet (but I get close…a lot). My point is, I’ve grown. If I could do it over again I would because I’m happy with what I’ve learned. Self-worth. How to fight smart. I am talented. I’ve become more fearless and assertive.
A disturbing amount of people belive, “You should just be happy to have a job,” but that’s what you’re told by yes-men who are afraid of change, and/or tyrant bosses who want to keep you in line. If you’re not happy about your job, it’s OK to not like it and be vocal about it. If you know you’re talented and value your work, then you will get picked up and treated right elsewhere but you can’t progress if you’re afraid, impatient and lack faith. (I need to take my own advice when it comes to patience and faith). You deserve to be happy and prosper so why work somewhere that brings down your spirit and makes you miserable? You’ll pay for it with your health and subsequently your life.
I put things into perspective after my lay off because I realized that not only was working for the magazine not what I thought it would be but I wasn’t being treated right, and I was definitely overworked and underpaid. (I was looking for other opportunities anyway).
I ended up at another company, shortly afterward, that wasn’t run well. They also didn’t treat me right but it was more blatant (that was the culture of that place). Thoughts of sticking around because of the “recession” lingered but one day I had a moment where I broke on a co-worker in a meeting (followed by an incident where I was left stranded out of state, but I digress) and I realized that I should leave. I conquered my fear and quit after three months because that place stressed me out (I was miserable all the time and took it out on loved ones) and made me act out of character. If I ever work somewhere where I’m not happy again, then that’s what I’ll do, even if it means I quit after a week and have to tap dance in the subway for money. I wasn’t meant to be mistreated and disrespected. And that’s the biggest lesson I learned in 2009.
In other news…I’m still looking so if you know anyone who respects a talented, versatile, smart and accomplished writer, then you know what to do. But in the meantime, I guess I need to practice patience. At least I’ve defeated fear…