Do you ever wish you did things differently? Ever looked back and imagined how much more informed your choices could have appeared if you had all the information, you have now?
That inherently is the thing about regret, it stings so bad.
When I first started out in my career it was the year 2019.
I had just come off from a traumatic incident, that I would later find out affected me more than I imagined.
There I was, a bright young sharp girl, thirsty, hungry and desperate to change the world. My first Job, was easy, lovely man I worked for, bless him. My second Job however, lasted two weeks, I’ll tell you why.
I got this job while I was in NYSC camp. I remember lying in bed and going through my phone, a friend had posted about a young female Politician who needed a personal assistant. I had all the skills they wanted, I also thought myself a good writer then, so naturally I applied and got accepted.
At first, I was enamored by the prospects of working with someone, a woman so successful, I am pretty sure I looked at her with wide mystified eyes. However, I soon discovered I was inadequate, and the situation became a bit toxic for both of us. The straw that finally broke the Camel’s back, I don’t quite recall what she said to me over the phone, I just know it was unpleasant. I recall it pissed me off, so bad I walked away and never looked bad, that’s how I lost my job, ooh yes it was also a rainy day, so what an effect.
I worked another Job, almost immediately, that was fairly ok as well, nothing spectacular happened. Just a reinforcement that hard work begets more work, I rose quickly in roles, because I was such a hard worker, but once I had a choice to make, I let them go because there was too much internal politics, and it just wasn’t worth it for me.
Now my third Job, this one, this one took a lot from me. Cost me my friendships, cost me my sanity, almost cost me my health. Looking back now, I see all the mistakes I made, I guess it was because of the way I left school, it was not how I wanted to leave, and so I constantly felt, inadequate, like I wasn’t good enough, like I had something to prove. This flawed view of myself, caused made me to let go of everything called boundary that I could have put up.
I gave, and gave, and gave, and the corporate world took and took and took, until I had nothing left to give, but they still ended up taking. Looking back, it was such an abusive situation, I often asked myself why I was so eager to be liked? It didn’t help that I enjoyed my role, I loved the work. I guess some could say it was passion, but I also know that Passion was greatly exploited. In hindsight, I wish I said No more often. I Wish I wasn’t so scared of losing my job then. I wish I listened to people who told me how much value I had, I wish I believed in myself more, betted on myself more, or just enough to apply for more jobs, and resign because I knew my worth and they weren’t doing me a favor.
My inability to make a decision landed me from the frying pan into the fire, obviously at the time it seemed like such a practical decision to make, a dangling low fruit, a glittering gold. Two years after, I find myself second guessing my decision. I also have to admit that all the plans I had to cancel in my third role, all the events I had to miss, all the sleepless nights I had to give, somehow made me prepared for the fire I got into, but even now, I wish I had something – Boundaries.
In Jamaica, I have met a number of people, particularly interesting humans: my gardener who reminds you that he doesn’t work weekends, and whatever task you have for him will have to wait until the weekday. My housekeeper who would never come to work on government holidays and never miss her off days, my chef who asked that I do not leave her any message before 6am in the morning, because it was disturbing her sleep. The driver who would not pick your calls on weekends, because he doesn’t work weekends except you give him prior information. Again, you see, extremely interesting people. However, the one resonating thing all these humans share, BOUNDARIES.
My Jamaican friend Charisa, so fearless and bold, she knows the value she brings to the table and isn’t ready to settle for less, no matter the role, no matter the situation, she will up and leave and get a higher one. If you have not noticed by now, she is my greatest inspiration, I hope I would one day be as bold as she is.
Here’s what I regret; I wish I was a little bit bolder; I wish I hadn’t imbibed the baby boomers work culture, I wish I was more affirmative, again I wish I said NO more often. It could have saved me a lot of things. I have learnt now that hard work, only gets you more work. Some may argue that everything I went through and let happen to me prepared me for where I am today, but I think the next question would be, am I happy? If this is the price, then I don’t want it. Yes nothing, no situation is inherently good or bad. Bad events sometime still have some good in them and vice versa. However, if this is what it takes, I don’t think I want it, hard pass.
My advice to every young woman starting out, do not let anyone walk over you, yes including the women you adore and look up to so much, women support women, but women can also be the greatest perpetrators of abuse towards younger women, it is a conversation we do not have enough of.
Have boundaries. Say no. Do your job extremely well, you can take on extra responsibilities if you know you can learn from it. It is always good to challenge yourself, but do not let anyone make you a doormat. Leave abusive situations. That crown for best in hard work looks better on a head that is intact, not one that is battered. Any prize that leaves you battered and a shadow of yourself was never worth it. In the end they will come to respect your choices, if they do not, then they don’t deserve you.