Quitting My First Job

Quitting My First Job

A teacher of mine once told my friend that it's normal for us to hate our first job. In fact, he thinks we should hate it. Although I wouldn't use the word hate, I do understand where that saying came from. If we get too comfortable, we'd be too lazy or too scared to venture forth. Settling down was never a bad idea, however, when you're a recent fresh graduate who's still on the hunt for good portfolios, settling down at one company may not be ideal — at least this is how I see it. In my case, quitting was made easy when I realized that I've wasted two years of energy in a toxic company who doesn't seem to care about its employees.

As mentioned in my previous post, I finally submitted my resignation last month. On my last day, which was Jan 29, I remember feeling like I could finally breathe. After contemplating for several months, I finally called it quit. I couldn't stand it, being stuck in a company filled with underlying toxicity. It was a messy and frustrating workplace where I felt like as employees, we were treated like tools instead of actual human beings. Not to mention, I was the only designer there so even though I enjoyed my 'the chosen one' position and that it somehow boosted my ego, I didn't see it as an environment where I could grow or be heard.

I remember sitting down at Coffee Bean for my job interview. I remember feeling excited joining a startup team and wanting to help the seed grow. I remember how nervous yet excited I was, only to crack halfway because I was pressured to do something that wasn't in my job description. It was animation and logo design, two fields that aren't part of me. I remember my supervisor-slash-project manager-slash-general team leader rushing me to complete a logo in just a day. Even the most amateur designer would know that it's impossible to finish a logo within 24 hours, especially if you are not a logo designer to begin with. It was then I realized how much the company ignores what we designers call as design process. I had wanted to quit even before we moved to a coworking space but decided not to because I thought I was weak. I should be stronger, I told to myself at that time. I sucked it up and defended the company like a fool I was.

Fast forward to when the team grew a little bigger, I found not only two co-workers I grew close with, I also discovered disgusting internal secrets between higher ups. I know it's not cool to spoil everything since that could come off as trash talking a company I used to be a part of but... let's just say these secrets are more of a dirty laundry scandal. Things began to escalate for the worst — employees being told to work for 20+ hours, employees accused of lying when taking sick leave and their illness being dismissed as nothing serious (my coworker got ulcer and was hospitalized), employees pitted against each other, pretentious management trying to put on a series of angelic gestures by trash talking one employee in front of the other just to boost their confidence, the list goes on. I remember taking a sick leave due to period cramps and got a passive aggressive protest from my supervisor who thought I was lying. It was such an insufferable, traumatizing place filled with dirty lies and passive aggressiveness led by an egoistical team leader who refuse to acknowledge his employees' concerns.

A few coworkers and I had a discussion about this. We came to the same agreement that it's time for us to leave, to find a new workplace elsewhere. It just happened that I quit first before the others because I've always been vocal about what I like and dislike. I just knew I had to quit. There's no more reason to stay in a dishonest, backstabbing company. When I first signed up for that job, I wanted to work with the people, not just for the cash. Sure, money is important but integrity is everything for me and that was something I no longer found within the team and from my leader.

I remember my boyfriend asking me if I regret quitting. Honestly, there are very few things I'm going to miss. One is the atmosphere of a co-working space; I've always loved co-working spaces more than a home office situation like my current new workplace. Two, the coffee shop located inside the co-working space and the barista who remembers my regular order of unsweetened ice cappuccino. Three, two ex co-workers of mine who I suppose have now became my friends. Nevertheless, if I take these three points out of equation, I don't feel an inch of regret. Am I scared of my new workplace? Obviously. I'm socially awkward almost to the point where I'd sweat or feel cold hands and cold feet. In fact, it has been two weeks and I'm still extremely nervous. It's actually really, really stressful but I couldn't stay in my old workplace, you know? It's just too filthy.

Some people might think I'm exaggerating when I said that my first job sort of left a traumatizing mark on my mental well-being. But I'm not lying about it, I won't. On my first day at my new workplace, I was terrified I'd get another passive aggressive, manipulative supervisor. I was scared to even ask for a sick leave, afraid they might blame it on me like how it was at my old job. Fortunately, neither my supervisor nor the HR department blamed me for it. The sad thing is, not only did the old workplace affects me this much, it's also affecting my ex co-worker, pushing him to the edge of depression and seizures caused by extreme stress and anxiety. I heard they made his life a living hell prior to his last day. I hope he's able to pull through.

My mom asked me if this means I no longer harbour any interest in startup companies. The answer is no. I'm still interested in startups as long as they maintain a healthy work environment and consider every single one employee as human being with limitations. Blaming employees for when they are sick or accusing them of faking an illness is not healthy. I don't care how small a startup team is or how limited the labour is — employees are never a leader's money making tools or emotional punching bag. Aside from that, I will forever be interested in startups because I personally am not the kind of person who'd work in a huge corporate with hundreds of employees.