‘Bets were made whether I’d last in the ‘boys club,’ or how long until I quit. Things got bad really quickly.’: Woman forced to quit her job after horrendous workplace bullying, ‘I finally put myself first. I am only human’

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“When something bad happens in your life it has the ability to change you. I never thought that I would change so drastically in twelve months, but it turned out to be possible. I also didn’t think a job could make you hit rock bottom but again it turned out to be possible. Twelve. That is all it took. In just twelve months my life went through a downward spiral where my confidence dwindled, and I doubted my own worth every single day.

From a young age I aspired to be a ‘businesswoman’ and make my family proud. I graduated Cum Laude with a finance degree ready to take on the world. I was so optimistic about the future and all I wanted to do was work and learn. I was a first-generation college graduate ready to start my career and more importantly make my parents proud after all they had done for me. When I received my diploma, I truly thought the world was my oyster, but reality was going to hit me in the face soon enough. The reality that was about to come my way was not something I had read about in a textbook or learned in class, it was raw and unfiltered.

When I accepted the job offer I was so excited and ready to prove myself to my new team. My main goals were to learn all I could and grow in my position to be the best I could be. Little did I know that already on my first day bets were being made whether or not I would last in the ‘boys club’ or how long until I quit. I had no idea I was about to join a small team composed of all men who were both equally hated and respected by everyone in the department. When I finally met my team, I was a bit hesitant but hoped they could become mentors to me since they were far along in their career. I don’t know why I was put into my team considering there was another team composed of only new hires, but I was sure everything would turn out fine. Soon enough people in the company would start to wish me ‘good luck’ and apologize for ‘what was to come’. I had no idea my manager and team were so disliked, but I kept trying to take things day by day. I had no idea what was to come and what the warnings really meant.

Things got bad really quick and each day just got worse. I was getting yelled at and belittled by both my team and manager constantly. I was considered dumb by my manager and couldn’t go to my team for help as they were ‘not allowed’ to help me. I never was given proper training and was getting work piled on me that I had to self-teach myself how to do. I was never good enough for my manager and my team never saw me as their equal or recognized that all I wanted to do was my job. I reached a point where it just turned into surviving until the next day and reaching a year so I could finally leave. I was more concerned about my resume looking bad than the toxic and hurtful situation I was in. My team would go to trainings without telling me and exclude me from work conversations. I was an outsider in my own team and not wanted by any means. I felt such anxiety at work waiting in my cube for my boss to come and criticize me for not knowing how to do something, or pile something on my desk he himself didn’t even know how to do but expected me to complete without asking anyone for help. I am a problem solver and in no means lazy but some of these tasks involved things that I truly needed someone with senior expertise to help me with and I wasn’t able to ask for that. I still remember the anxiety and embarrassment I felt when going up to my teammates to ask a question and they would belittle my knowledge or straight up not help me. I would suck up my pride and make jokes about how dumb I was to convince them to help me by getting a laugh out of my ‘dumbness’. If I could convince them to help me with my work by making fun of myself, I didn’t mind it at that point. How stupid was I now that I think about it. I don’t want to admit it, but they truly broke me inside and everything they thought of me I started to believe soon enough. A once optimistic, happy, woman quickly turned depressed and pessimistic.

I would cry on both my way home and to work. I would console myself counting down the days until it would be my one-year mark and I could part ways. All I wanted was to show my manager that I was good enough and prove to him and my team that I could be an asset to them but just needed time. Soon enough the health problems appeared magically and according to my doctors they were from the amount of stress I was under. I was diagnosed with IBS, Chronic Migraines, daily tension headaches, and something else I will not share. My eye started twitching constantly and there would be times I swear that I forgot how to breathe. My body was starting to fail me while I kept feeling as if I was failing those around me and myself. I kept ignoring my health problems because I was so fixated on keeping my job and proving I was worthy enough to be on their team. I would look at myself in the mirror and not recognize who I was anymore. The light in my eyes had faded and you could see the depression I was clearly in. I would go to bed praying for a miracle, a change in my manager, help from my team. I would pray every night for a change. I pushed away my loved ones because I couldn’t handle what I had become and inside I felt like so stupid.

The third stall in the women’s bathroom became my second home. It’s where I went to cry after being yelled or insulted and where I went to throw up when my migraines got so bad all I wanted was to cut my head off. I didn’t want pity from my team about my health issues but when they eventually found out they were not kind about it as I had predicted. I kept asking God ‘Why me’? I had no idea why my life was falling apart in front of my eyes and both my job and career were on the line. I kept wondering why life dealt me these cards but instead I should have been thinking about how I was killing myself for a job and manager who could care less about my development in this role and would never consider me his equal. I was constantly trying to prove myself to men who saw me as a joke. I didn’t want to compete with them as I respected the hierarchy but all I wanted was to do my job. I was always self-teaching myself things so I wouldn’t need to rely on them for help. I didn’t mind staying late if it meant getting to secretly ask the other managers questions so I wouldn’t anger my boss. I still can’t comprehend why he didn’t want me asking questions as a new hire or why he installed such fear in me. I often wondered how things would have been if I had been properly trained or given a manager that cared about my career goals and development. All I wanted was to prove that they were wrong about me. I wasn’t just some dumb girl. I had potential. I was smart. I was the complete opposite of what they thought about me.

Those around me in other departments could see the distress I was in. I know they spoke about me and some were kind enough to actually check if I was okay. What was upsetting to hear was that my manager had been known for this treatment and it had always gone unnoticed. I was hurting so bad but all I could think about were the other people he had hurt just as bad as me. I don’t know why I got him as a manager and had so much jealousy of the other new hires that went to another manager who actually cared about them. Here I was drowning, and they were simply floating along without a care. I couldn’t believe they actually enjoyed coming into work while the thought of seeing my boss had me in tears. The other new hires weren’t expected to do even half of what my workload was but here I was beating myself up over something beyond my control. I could see the unfairness and I couldn’t accept it. ‘A few more months’ I would keep saying to myself but by then I had almost reached my breaking point.

Do you know what it is like to be somewhere you are not wanted? That is how it felt going to work every day for a year until I had reached my breaking point and finally put in my two weeks. By this point I had reached my limit but was waiting it out hoping for a positive change. I wasn’t planning on putting my two weeks that day since I still had to figure out what my next steps would be and was busy working on numerous projects, but the unexpected happens. The past two weeks had been full of derogatory comments, insults, and rude behavior but I had kept looking past it. I was so focused on these projects to prove to my manager that I was worth something, but my work was never good enough. I swear I must have prayed 100 times before mustering the courage to go up to him to ask a question and show him the project but was met with yelling and belittling insults. I hadn’t gone to lunch those two weeks and had been staying late working on this, but he could not be bothered to help me. Where else could I go since my own team and manager didn’t want to help? I thought we were a team, but I guess I had been lying to myself for about a year. It’s as if everything hit me at once and all I wanted to do was gather what little was left of myself worth and leave immediately. It was in that moment I realized to him I am just some stupid girl. I will never be part of his ‘boys’ team’ or even be considered good enough for it. I was bending backwards for someone who would never see me as an equal. I took the weekend to decompress but realized the belittling and toxic treatment had to come to an end. This is in no way how I envisioned the end to my career at this company, but I had no choice. My health was deteriorating both physically and mentally. I had my loved ones begging me to quit because I had become so toxic and negative to be around. They had won and I would be leaving their team.

Monday morning I was set to finally give my notice to my manager. I didn’t expect much from him anymore at this point but seeing him laugh and dismissing me like he had won once I gave him my letter truly hurt. Was I a failure? Was I not good enough? I thought I would have felt happy putting in that notice but inside I felt like a failure or if I had given up. I still do at times. Many people might not know why I quit. They probably thought I couldn’t handle it or that it was too much. Well it was but not in the way they imagined. By the time I left that job I was so broken inside and very little was left of my confidence and self-love since it had been stomped on consistently for a year. There are times I become resentful and wonder why I had to get that manager or why I had to accept that job, but I hope this experience will somehow benefit me as strange as that sounds. I often wonder if I knew then what I know now would I have taken the job? I still don’t know the answer to that, but I hope this experience makes me stronger and teaches me to value myself even more.

My last week at the company I took a leap of faith and decided to tell the director the truth behind my departure. I took the advice of some coworkers that it might benefit her to know the truth but now I wish I wouldn’t have listened. I was so nervous to tell her, but I hoped she would be able to understand and maybe something could come out of this. The conversation was awkward to say the least and I got the feeling she did not believe me and wanted me out of the department as quick and silently as possible. I was offered by her a chance to leave before my last day to ‘avoid conflict’ which I accepted but it was never my intention. When I left that building a huge rock was lifted from my back but deep inside, I felt like such a failure. My manager did not have the courtesy to even wish me good luck or offer a sincere goodbye like the other managers did but I have forgiven his actions. I have learned not to expect anything from anyone. I wonder if he ever looks back and regrets what he did to me, but I truly doubt it. In his eyes he probably did nothing wrong. I felt that I had hit rock bottom in both my career and in my health but the only thing that kept me going was that when you are at the bottom the only place you can go from there is UP.

I am not sure what response this story will get and am nervous to share but I hope it might reach someone who could be going through the same thing. I thought the darkness was going to last forever but it only lasted up until I let it. When I quit, I finally put myself first after a year of hurting my physical and mental health as well as myself worth. I am only human. I started to believe all those things my manager thought I was because I was surrounded by negativity and it brought be down to rock bottom. I am not fully 100% yet but I am working every day to gain back my confidence and become the best version of myself. I am not sure if I will take another job in finance after what I went through, but I pray and have hope that what is meant to be will happen. For all I know I could have a different experience. I sometimes wish things could have been different and that I wouldn’t have had to experience this, but I know God only gives us what we can handle. I know I am not what my manager believed I was. I am not stupid, dumb, or unworthy of being on a team. Every day I work on rebuilding what they broke so easily in a year. I now know that I am good enough. I wish him the best and thank him for teaching me to never lose myself over the perception of someone who doesn’t care. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am excited for what the future holds. The world IS my oyster.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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