Years ago I was working as a group creative director at a healthcare marketing agency. I knew the instant I started there it wasn’t the right place for me. But they seemed like good people just trying to do good work, so I held tight.
I’m sure everyone has had a job like this. The kind where you know you just don’t fit. It makes you homesick for your last job—and rightfully so. No one asks you to go to lunch—ever. Your comments are never well received. And as time goes on, it just doesn’t seem to get better. This was that job for me. Had I been a less confident person, it probably would have stripped me down to believe that I was a total and complete loser.
Anyway, I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. All I knew for sure was that in that office, I definitely had cooties. It was perplexing. I wore deodorant. I showered daily. I even changed my clothes. But no one wanted to associate with me. I asked my boss what the problem was. He said I was doing a great job and just to give it time. So I learned to have fun with it. After all, watching people squirm in their chairs can be really entertaining.
A few short months after I started there, I got knocked up. (And yes, it was my husband’s child.) When I told my boss, he seemed genuinely happy for me—at least at first. But by the end of our chat I could feel the air being sucked out of the room. (Shoop!) And lucky for me, five weeks before I had the baby, the owners of the company laid me off. I thought it was strange that my boss didn’t do the layoff. Or that he didn’t say good-bye. But it took another year for me to learn that my boss had been lying about me behind my back to the owners. Fortunately for me, the owners gave me this big stack of papers that said I couldn’t sue them. And then said if I signed it, I’d get a bigger stack of money. I REALLY like big stacks of money. And they looked like they were willing to pay me just about anything to get me to go without telling the world how they just did something morally reprehensible. I was, after all, WAY pregnant.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed my time off—immensely.
My 2.5 year-old son was overly concerned that this new baby was going to steal his blankies. And this paid time off gave me the enjoyable (NOT) opportunity to calm his anxieties (which I never did). I truly believed he was using the “blankies” as a metaphor for my affections, thinking he was scared that I would dote on the baby more than him. But, nope. Not the case at all. He was truly just afraid of losing his blankies. And of course, from the time she was born, that’s all my daughter wanted. So he was kinda right.
In the meantime, my sister started her own advertising agency. She asked me be her partner and I said, “absolutely not.” She pouted, but was later appeased when I said I would freelance for her until I got a job elsewhere. Now it’s three years later and my sister and I are partners. Best thing I’ve ever done. Our agency is up-and-coming. It’s just landing on people’s radars. And a few months ago I got an urgent message telling me that my backstabbing boss was fired. But the best most delicious part is, without even wishing for it, he gave a digital knock on my agency’s door. And for the first time in my life, I understand why those people who are laid off get so much satisfaction from deleting servers on the way out or sending mass emails describing people’s genitalia. The desire for revenge is overwhelming. But lucky for me and this wonderful world of social media, it’s even more satisfying to simply click, “ignore”.