Today I decided something scary. I needed to quit my job.
Of course, I didn’t know how. I’ve never done this before. I don’t even have an employment contract so do I have to give notice? Really? Do I have to?!
I’ve not been happy there since maybe the second week which is a bad sign. Most mornings / evenings / lunch breaks there would be crying, full on panic attacks and that overwhelming feeling of dread.
Last night I knew it had reached a new low when it was 3am, I was on the phone to Dan and asking ‘But if I ate some out of date chicken, I could give myself food poisoning, right? Then I wouldn’t have to go in!’ and it hit me that that is not a healthy or normal thing that people think.When you’re literally considering making yourself ill to avoid something, that is a very, very bad sign.
So this morning I did what any other scared, crying idiot would do and sent a long email explaining everything I felt.
I don’t really want to talk about any of this. I don’t want to have to explain it over and over while my parents are disappointed in me and I feel like a big let down so here is my abridged version of why I quit my job after just 1 month.
This is for my family and friends so I don’t have to tell the same story over and over and cry every time. It’s for future employers who may wonder why my lovely CV suddenly has this murky patch. This is for everyone else in the same situation who is wondering what to do, so you know that you’re not alone in this and quitting does not make you a failure. And this is for me so I can be honest and look back in a few weeks, months, years and know that I made the right decision because I’m never going to be the person who sits back and lets themselves be unhappy.
I don’t want to use names or anything because I don’t think that would be fair but for ease of understanding: L is my immediate boss, head of marketing, and M is the founder of the company which had a total of 4 employees, including me.
A couple of weeks ago I decide to talk to L about my worries and how I was feeling. She got me to talk to M to address my concerns with how he was treating me. I feel like, despite talking to M about this, that the thing that he took away from that conversation was that it’s a problem with me so I need to fix that and he needs to work around that until I’m better. That’s not what I wanted at all.
The problem I have is with the way he sees me and treats me and talks to me; he is a typical micro-manager. Plus he talks down to me, talks over me and patronises me. My problem is the way I deal with this – it makes me cry, gives me panic attacks, I feel unhappy and helpless. This is something I’m working on and trying to fix. The problem with me is not that I am having these feelings but it is with how I respond to them. The problem with M is that his behaviour is causing those feelings. I don’t feel he understands that.
To be completely honest, I just don’t feel like it’s the right environment for me to work in. Not to sound like a spoilt, rich kid but I don’t need the job. It’s not something I’m reliant on in any way and that makes me really, really lucky because it means that I get to work purely because I enjoy it. That’s what I’ve always wanted and that’s why I got into digital marketing in the first place – because I love it. I love learning about it, I love how fast it changes and how you constantly have to adapt, I love seeing the effect it has on a business, I love coming up with new, exciting ideas and I’m not experiencing any of that in this role.
There’s this big disconnect between what a normal digital marketing role is and what this is. I don’t feel like I’ve been hired for my ideas or my expertise or my experience. I feel like I’ve been hired because I know how to use the tools and I can put M’s vision, and only M’s vision, out there for him. I’ve said it before, but it’s like being an intern or a glorified receptionist, not a digital marketing specialist.
All this kind of hit home on Friday when I realised M would rather pay out £30,000 or however much it is to get other people to design Display Ads and come up with an online ad campaign and teach us about PPC, rather than just ask me. That stuff is a big part of what I do and what I know and what I have experience in. The fact that he’d rather use an outside firm that clearly don’t even specialise in that area (they’re more focused on PR and traditional advertising/marketing methods by the sounds of it) says to me that he doesn’t trust me or my opinions or my experience, he’s not even willing to give it a chance. Regardless of what he does or doesn’t actually think, as long as I’m continually made to feel this way I’m not going to be of any value to his company.
My biggest problem at the moment is how I feel like I’m losing touch with who I am and I’m losing faith in myself. When I’m away from the office, I know I’m good at this stuff. I can think back to previous AdWords campaigns I’ve run, or a newsletter I’ve sent, or even a social media competition I’ve run and I can tell you how much money I made that week and how the engagement rate shot up or I can even tell you what didn’t go so well and how I learnt to improve it the next time. I can tell you that I’m proud to put my name to all of it because even when it didn’t work out it was my work (or my collaboration with others) that did it and before I even put anything live, I believed in all of it.
I’m not proud of anything I’ve done at this company over the last month. There’s nothing innovative or interesting or that adds value that I would want to put my name to, except maybe a couple of average-at-best blog posts.
While I believe in the product (it’s great and has a lot of potential),I don’t believe there’s a clear idea of what the brand is or what it wants to say. I know everyone keeps saying it’s a work in progress which is completely fair but I don’t believe that M has the ability or even wants to let go of the things that aren’t working and go for something new. I don’t believe he’s willing to see past his personal preferences in order to listen to what someone like me, or L, or an outside agency, or anyone else, has to say about what would work.
The trade ads were a big example of this – it didn’t matter that me and L spent ages looking at fonts, deciding which ones gave off the right message, which ones had the right tone for the ad, which ones would appeal to the target consumer. In the end, all that mattered was that M didn’t like that font, he preferred another and he wanted it to look exactly as they’d done it before.
I can’t work in an environment like that and if I don’t understand the viewpoint that people want me to post from, (because I don’t think there’s any consensus between M and L,) then how am I supposed to create any kind of quality content?
In a similar vein, I don’t feel like I believe in anything I say while I’m in the office anymore. I’m not a pushover, I’m not someone who just goes with other people’s ideas for the sake of it but that’s what I feel like I’m be turning into. If I don’t have the confidence in what I’m saying or the (few) ideas I’m having then I’m not going to be any use to the business at all.
When I’ve wanted to send a newsletter, or add e-commerce tracking to mail chimp or sort out the horrible and difficult to use parts of the website, then I’m told “later” and that it’s “not a priority right now”. I feel like that’s because my opinion isn’t respected or viewed as important, how can I be expected to add any value or keep suggesting ideas when they’ll all be shot down and shelved for later?
M continually talks about how he wants us to be able to have our own opinions and express ourselves in the office – this sounds great until I do talk about something I’m interested in – even something as silly as National Teddy Bear day. I was browsing Twitter at 6pm on a Friday and my exact words were ‘Ooh cute! It’s National Teddy Bear Day!’ and all M’s reaction was was this ridiculous disbelief that I’d said anything about it and a genuine concern that I’d be posting about it to the company Twitter or something. Again it just comes back to this idea that he has no faith in me. I’m not an idiot and, after working in marketing for 8 years now, I understand basic things like making content relevant for your consumers. Even I know that stuffed animals aren’t something the average 30 year old, health conscious woman would be interested in, the fact that he thinks I’m not aware of that is both concerning and insulting.
I really do feel like I’ve tried and I feel like while M has made some changes, I don’t think it’s a big enough step towards resolving all the issues. He still feels that this is an issue with me and not with him.
At this point, I really don’t feel like I can continue working at the company. It’s not making me happy, it’s not good for my mental health, it’s not giving me the opportunity to learn more or develop my skills, and because of all these things I know that I cannot continue to add anything of value for them.
So what do I want other people in the same situation to take away from this?
- Well the most important thing is that no job is worth compromising your happiness or (mental or physical) health for.
- No job is worth crying over. If you dread going into the office, it’s a problem with the office, not you.
- Don’t just give up straight away but voice your concerns, try to make a change and if things still don’t improve, don’t feel bad about leaving.
- If you’re braver than me, don’t just write them an email saying this stuff.
It’s weird. I’ve had a lot of jobs. Had some difficult bosses, had some fantastic bosses but I’ve never had anything quite like this before. Knowing I’ve done something about it and, best case scenario, I might never have to go back there again feels like this huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I can breathe again. But I also know this isn’t the end. I know next time I get the courage to look at my email inbox there’ll be a reply. Next time I man up and look at my phone, there’ll probably be some missed calls. I’m an adult now and I need to deal with this but right now I’m scared and I’m not sure I can.
So I’m going to spend a little longer curled up in a ball, having a good cry, maybe get lost in a good book, then I’m going to deal with it a little bit at a time and get through things because things can only get better from here, right?
But enough of me talking / writing, I want to know what everyone else thinks. Have you been in this situation? What did you do? Are you still in a situation like this? What do you think about how I handled it – compliment or critique, please let me know!