This past year has really been about transformation… with me unleashing my voice and leaving a job after 13 years. I was in a very toxic environment and I wasn’t going anywhere but down. I was burnt out and sick, both physically and mentally. I didn’t have any boundaries in place or know what they even looked like. I didn’t stand up for myself, take care of myself or do anything to get me out of that situation.
At the end of the day, it was just me. No one was there for me. No one had my best interests in mind…
More to the point, my boss and coworkers could see I was breaking down and yet that didn’t stop them from adding more things to my plate.
They only cared that I kept getting things done for them.
I was also still very much in need of healing for myself. I knew that staying at this job wasn’t the right thing for me.
When I finally had the courage to leave, it was a very defining moment of releasing my deeply rooted feelings of ‘people pleasing and silencing myself’.
Even though I knew I’d be leaving, I wanted to take this time to separate myself and to also see if I could slow down. I wondered if I’d even be the slightest bit better after two weeks. I called it Operation Separation. I also determined that it didn’t matter what anybody said when they found out I was going to quit my job, even though I didn’t have a plan for my future yet.
The first week was so hard. I was answering emails left and right, because I didn’t want to disappoint people. The next week I was able to relax a little bit. I stopped checking my email a million times a day. I limited myself to 2 or 3 times a day, I even set a timer. Just that slight adjustment was life changing, it was like a rush and I was like ‘oh my god, this is what freedom feels like?’ I was hooked.
I did go back to work after the 2 weeks were up. Even though I had already given my notice, I stuck around for about a month. I wanted to transition smoothly.
Tying up loose ends became an almost impossible task when my boss hired my replacement and wanted me to train him. I couldn’t understand why someone else couldn’t train him and show him around?
On the first day my replacement came to work, I was instructed to sit with him in my office and guide him through the day-to-day operations, show him the ropes, and how to do things. However, all he wanted to do was hit on me. GREAT! Should I just chalk that up too? It had happened many times before. As one of the only women within the company ranks, it actually happened often.
How many times had I been made to feel uncomfortable at work? The unwelcomed eyeballs looking everywhere except in my eyes. Unwanted advances and an arm reaching across me and just happening to graze my breasts.
I’ll never forget the time a coworker exposed himself to me and got little more than a pat on the back. Wink, wink, nod, nod. How many times had I reported it to my boss, only to be told to let it slide? How many times had I been told that I must be overthinking it and there was no way so and so meant anything by it?
My fault, it was always my fault.
I must have asked for it. Now that I was headed out the door, I certainly didn’t have to chalk it up and I knew that I no longer needed to feel like I had to.
The greatest feeling after leaving that job was when my mother said, “That was a really courageous move you made. I wish I could do something similar. I wish I could have the guts to do that.” My mother had never spoken like that to me before. It was really a supportive and affirming moment for me. It was also very eye opening that I actually needed that validation and it felt so good.
The Importance of Loving Yourself
It takes courage and confidence to build up love for yourself. If you don’t love yourself, even though other people love you, it’s impossible to feel that love.
I felt like Humpty Dumpty and I had to put myself back together after I fell off the wall.
I now want so many people to know how to do that for themselves. If only someone would have taken me by the shoulders early on and said “Girl! What are you doing? You need to get out of this NOW!” I didn’t have that and that’s why I support other young women who are looking for clarity, and a way to implement their boundaries.
I now know that I don’t have to ‘do for other people’ in order to find my happiness. I can do things for myself. It’s okay to do things for myself, and it’s okay to take a break. It’s also okay to say No to other people. It’s not a selfish thing.
In fact, it’s perfectly okay to be SELFISH for yourself.
Bio: LinkedIn Connection Facilitator & Career Development Coach, Chelle Shapiro empowers job seekers to get hired by the right employers for the right reasons. Chelle teaches content strategy and is available for resume reviews. As a speaker and author she inspires others to work smarter not harder… to have a voice and use it… to speak up immediately when threatened with any sexual misconduct at work.
Message to her younger self: Hey, this isn’t the kind of attention you want or deserve. You don’t need to try so hard to fit in. The right people will like you for you, not for your body.
Her famous mantra: Loving yourself isn’t selfish.
Her famous quote: “I believe our work environment needs to be more understanding of those little things that make a huge difference in our personal lives. Those little things that keep us afloat.” ~ Chelle Shapiro
Her POV: You can stop internalizing emotions and persevere against all odds.
Connect with Chelle here…