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Every "L" ain't a Loss

A few weeks ago, I was hit with some news that threw a surprise kink into my life plan. While sitting at my desk on a Monday morning, getting started with my work for the day, I was informed that I was being fired. The HR representative probably thought that I was crazy because I was cracking jokes in between taking verbal inventory of my stuff while placing it into my bag. When asked if I wanted to keep my name plate outside the door, I quipped, "Sure, for shits and giggles, why not?" I then had the pleasure of being escorted out of the building; I didn't expect to scratch that one off my career bingo card, but here we are. In less than 30 minutes from the time I received the news, I handed in my parking pass, was wished well, and went on my way.

You may be thinking, OMG! What?! FIRED?! Escorted out of the building?!

Yes, beloved Reader. It all happened in a swift motion; turns out that it only takes a few minutes to change someone's station in life. But guess what? To the surprise of many, I wasn't hurt, troubled, or dismayed. I walked out of there with my dignity intact, my head held high, and no regrets. Here is why.

First, I had never planned to work in the sector that this role fell in. Some people need titles or political affiliation to make them feel important, but I am satisfied by simply doing important work. The past few years have taught me that I am truly a creator, and my purpose in life is to create things that are meaningful, impactful, and uplifting to others. I can give service anywhere, but I am at my best when my job aligns with this calling. The role that I was fired from did not.

Second, this job had the classic markings of a bad purchase. I was sold one thing in the interview, but the day-to-day reality gave "what I expected vs. what I got" vibes almost immediately. I was recruited away from a job where I was writing and creating every day, to a job where I was clipping newspapers, pushing paperwork, and having my character questioned over inanimate objects. I was told that I was being sought for my marketing skills, but once I started the job, I was barely using them. I also found myself navigating unpredictable personalities that mask themselves well for the right audiences but can't be hidden behind closed doors. I'm a democratic leader who believes in collaboration, but I found myself trying to operate under the regime of a dictatorship. Lastly, I found myself being micromanaged in ways that I had read about on social media, but never thought I'd experience firsthand.

I stopped sleeping well. My skin started breaking out. I had complex, large-scale tasks thrown in my lap with tight deadlines, continuously changing instructions, and the bar for satisfaction was always in motion. My stress was at an all-time high. Still, I persevered. Through craziness, power trips, contradictions, and lots of ego, I persevered. Despite having my work simultaneously complimented and picked apart, being told why this or that wasn't good enough despite its alignment with what was requested, I continued to press on. It's stressful to reflect upon but was even more stressful to go through in real time.

Five months and two days into the job I wasn't looking for but was relentlessly pursued for nonetheless, I was terminated. It's rumored that I lasted longer than anyone else who held my position over the past five years, although I'm not sure how true that is. I was never given a concrete reason for being let go, other than mention of a conversation that took place a week before I was invited to leave. In the days between that last conversation and my exit, I received flowers from my leader with a card and balloon thanking me for my work and exclaiming that I was appreciated "thiiiiiiiiiis much!" I find it so interesting that the same person who once quoted the hit O'Jays song Backstabbers as a cautionary tale to beware of those who "smile in your face, all the while they want to take your place," sent me flowers on a Wednesday then had me fired the following Monday with no conversation or heads up in between. They had just stressed how they "chose" me—as though they found me destitute and my life was somehow enhanced by their selection (spoiler: it was quite the opposite)— but they didn't have the decency to fire me face-to-face. Instead, they sent someone else to deliver the news for them. I can respect someone who decides that I'm no longer their cup of tea, but I will never respect a coward who sends others to carry out their dirty deeds. As the kids say, that's nasty work.

If I just had to guess, I'd wager that the real reason I was excused is because I had the audacity to speak up for myself. After letting things roll off my back for quite some time, I'd begun to professionally match energy and eventually asked my so-called leader if they could aim for mutually respectful tones when communicating. I also didn't back down when they feigned confusion; like a well-stocked cash register for a morning shift, I had receipts for everything we discussed. I was honest when asked if I liked the job, noting that I enjoyed what I was learning from the position, but that it hadn't turned out to be what was advertised in the persistent emails and meeting that led to my acceptance. And then, when given a loosely veiled threat suggesting that I could hit the highway if their way wasn't good enough, I failed to bend into submission. I guess that I was supposed to be scared, grovel, or beg, but like a Damon Wayans character in the '90s, The Kultured Queen don't play that.

Many label young professionals as lazy or unwilling to work, but most of us are just unwilling to be treated badly when employers so often show us that we're disposable anyway.

Through the career fluctuation I've experienced over the past year, I've come to understand that the purpose of my placement in some positions is to create change. It's no coincidence that I've always been complimented for leaving places better than I found them. At every job I've ever held, including this one, I've been told that I brighten spaces with my energy and engagement. My past managers have said that I bring people together, successfully improve workflows, and implement innovative approaches to working more efficiently. The few times that I've encountered issues, it's always been in environments that are either comfortable with complacency, or as in this case, those that pair a desire for robotic compliance with a lack of interpersonal skills and personal accountability. Many label young professionals as lazy or unwilling to work, but most of us are just unwilling to be treated badly when employers so often show us that we're disposable anyway. If we're going to spend 40+ hours per week giving our all to something, the least we should be able to receive is basic respect. I assure you that it costs less than the benefits package.

So, What's the point?

While some people would view being fired as an "L" or loss, I truly believe that the only "L" I'm taking from this experience is the lessons that I learned from it. I was reminded that:

  1. While I move genuinely, still look out for those who are driven by ulterior motives.

  2. Beware of wolves who imitate the innocence of sheep but whose casualties outnumber their charms.

  3. Watch for those who throw rocks and hide their hands. Believe them the FIRST time.

  4. Micromanagement is insecurity set ablaze by power.

  5. A title does not equal a leader, nor is it a mark of capability.

  6. All skinfolk ain't kinfolk; Black people can have savior complexes, too.

  7. Repeat #6...twice for the culture.

  8. Standing on principle will sometimes cost you, but God and good character will always provide.

Even though this situation has left me in a tough spot, I'm still grateful; I have the gift of self-worth that is unattached to any job title; an outpouring of moral support from my village; and an undoubtedly amazing season lying ahead once it is revealed. Sometimes, we are placed in spaces to highlight the issues within. I know what kind of worker I am and that there aren't many Millennials like me in today's workforce. Despite being the latest victim of this person's antics, I rest well knowing that my absence is undoubtedly more pronounced than my presence was; especially to the staff who've now seen another quality employee bite the dust under this management. I hope that they take the hint; when you keep running into the same problems with different people, at some point you must stop blaming everyone else and take a hard look at yourself.

My early career was paved with the repercussions of disobeying God's lead, so I won't be sorry for saying "yes" to a move that I felt His hand in. Even now, I still feel His hand on me. Divine orchestration is in progress and He's not done conducting yet. Today's challenges are mere stepping stones on the path toward where I need to be. Better is coming, and I love that for me.

Dedication: This post is dedicated to every good worker who has ever been wronged in the workplace, especially the many who held my position before me and the unpredictable number that will come after. Always protect your dignity. Be uncompromising about your respect. Know that if it tears you down, then it isn't for you. Seek better for yourself, unapologetically. I wish you the best of luck in aligning yourself with the people and places that make you feel valued. Be encouraged. Stay Strong. #StayKultured

P.s... Vote Wisely.

“When you were made a leader you weren't given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”

- Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric



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I'm The Kultured Queen, and it is a pleasure to welcome you to this space.  Enjoying yourself? Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the blog, COMMENT, and SHARE your favorite posts!

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