[Note: This entry touches on things that I often avoid discussing openly. Because I am more at peace with the situation, I’ve decided that I ought to adjust my tendencies. All I ask in return is that you Please be Gracious as you read. This is not a cry for help, this is a description.]
I quit a job on Tuesday. The plan was that it would be temporary, but I didn’t make it to the three-week mark before I was in the bathroom on break, crying over how much I hated the experience.
Some of you are shaking your heads and saying, “You’ll never make it in the real world.”
Some of you are tsking because you think I’m too sensitive.
Some of you have been there.
But most of you, need to take a pause. Whether it’s a chemical imbalance, whether I experienced some unknown childhood trauma that rears it’s ugly head at inopportune times, or whether I simply have thin skin…this happened. It was real, and painful, and I am frightened by how much self-loathing I retained after each shift.
I left because I hated the idea of the company. I left because I was not a very good employee, and never excelled. I left because the state that my mind was in after a shift was so twisted around and unhealthy, I was scared what would happen if I continued to subject my psyche to that kind of stress.
I do wish I had a brain that let my emotions easily recover. The reality, though, is that I don’t. I often subject myself to high-stress situations, willingly. I seek out challenges, strange friendships, new experiences, travel, run, speak publicly, and do not shy away from confrontation. These are my choices. Sometimes I regret them. Sometimes my friends and family regret my choices, because when the challenges get to be too much – my brain kicks into overload, and stops logically processing.
Medically, this is known as Depression. Colloquially, I’m known as Difficult, Reactive, Unpredictable, Emotional.
I believe that challenging myself is always worth the growth that I experience, but I have to do it responsibly – know when enough is enough and step back before my mind will need more than an hour or day to recover. For my mind, staying would not have been the responsible choice.
This job caused me to sit at a desk for the entire shift, making cold-calls to strangers, pretending to have a cheesy sense of humor. The training consisted of a sheet of paper to rehearse reading, a few pieces of paper to refer to when stuck, and my “coach” correcting me each I missed the mark. Missing the mark might include, Pausing too long after a question, Saying “Do you mind?” and letting the client decide the direction of the call, Being flustered, Not encouraging the client to visit shows, Not negotiating, Being cut-off, Not making a sale, Sounding Anxious, Not sounding Excited, Sounded too polite, Not up-selling, Letting my voice raise too much.
Which means, all feedback was negative. The environment was close, crowded and loud. The goal was to talk a stranger into spending money he/she may not want to spend, in order to get me off the phone.
In my mind, this translated into being bad at my job, not positively impacting the lives of those around me, failing as soon as I sat down. Some people can take that, even excel in that situation. For some reason, one I don’t completely understand right now, this line of work was not something my brain could handle. I wasn’t annoyed, I was enraged; I wasn’t frustrated, I was disgusted. I wish I could explain why this particular environment impacted my less-than-healthy brain, sending me into a spiral. I wish I could explain how triggers work differently on a brain that doesn’t self-regulate the re-uptake of serotonin.
The reality is that I can’t explain. I can only describe, and tell you that the last 6 years of conversations, research, prayers, and openness have taught me that what I am describing is a textbook depressive experience. One I know I must prevent from escalating.
So I quit. I packed up my papers, walked to my boss’s desk and said, “This isn’t the job for me. I believe you can find someone who doesn’t actually want to hurt herself when she gets home after each shift, and that is better than I am at this job. Good-bye.”