My Generation Needs to Heal from Toxic Workplaces

And I don’t think most of us realize it. 

I didn’t myself until a couple years ago. 

Just to be clear, I don’t mean that I think toxic workplaces are exclusive to my generation, I’m saying that my generation (Gen X, if you’re keeping score) is more blind to it than most. 

I randomly had this realization tonight when I thought about just how much of my worth I had tied up in my career. (Yes, I was a little high, okay?) Like, 97% of my internal worth came from my career for 97% of my life. 

I didn’t do the official math, but like I said before I was high. It’s crampy time and the magic smoke is the best thing that helps. 

After thinking about how much I tied my worth to my jobs, I remembered how personally crushing I felt every time I lost a job for one reason or another. Losing a job made me feel like a failure as a human and there was literally nothing more embarrassing than failing at anything. 

Losing a job meant I wasn’t a “high contributor” and, based on my previous marriage, being a “high contributor” was the most important thing I did with my life. 

Not raising a child. 

Not keeping up a house. 

Not cooking dinner. 

Not being a loving, good human being that cared about other people. 

But earning money to support the household. 

And I accepted it. I didn’t know any better. According to the way I was brought up, keeping the man in your life happy was the most important thing you did with you life. 

You know, it was my “job”.

And if I didn’t have another actual job to keep that “job” happy, I was the absolute greatest failure. I failed at providing for my family. I failed at being a “high contributor”. I was just a failure all around. 

Really, the biggest thing I hurt by losing a job (aside from the massive hit my self worth took each and every time I lost a job) was that it made it difficult to pay for D & I’s dance classes, because my partner at the time did not see the value in them, so he refused to be a “contributor” at all to something that brought D & I both so much joy. 

I mean, I get it. It took time away from servicing his needs. I get the shiver skeeves thinking about what a fucking subservient twat I was at that time. 

Didn’t do one lick of good for one single person. 

Nor did the way I approached my jobs. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. The beginning always went great, cause I am a people pleaser by nature and nurture and that lends itself well to the corporate environment. 

I think they call that a “can do” attitude.

You know what I “couldn’t do”, though?

Speak up when I was taking on too much. 

I didn’t realize it at the time it was happening, but after looking back all these years, I guarantee 99% of my jobs were lost as a result of undiagnosed autistic burnout. 

Or as my brain simplifies it – I pleased other people before pleasing myself.. because I didn’t consider myself to be an actual people. 

 

It’s me, I’m a people. 

My generation was shown no other path to success other than college and a job. If you did anything less you were a failure and should be ashamed of yourself. 

So, guess how I felt when I popped out a baby 5 days after prom?! (That’s a story for another time, if you don’t already know it).

I felt like a giant failure. HUGE. 

Before that happened, my plans for the future were tenuous at best – heading to UGA for a musical theater degree, that would have gotten me what kind of job, I dunno.

But I couldn’t convince my folks to let me go to Umpire School. Ah well, another life maybe. 

I have really been thinking a lot about why I placed so much importance on work and, even more than that, the thoughts of other people. 

It’s what I was taught! I mean it’s no simpler than that. I mean, my dad literally worked himself to death, having a heart attack on his final job out of town. He’d had a few before that, but still kept on working his ass off. 

And instead of learning a lesson from that, I doubled down on work and keeping literally anyone other than my own damn self happy. 

I hear a lot of similar things from a lot of people in my generation. 

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like that. 

The workplaces that call themselves a “family” with absolutely no actions behind it do not care about us. If they truly treated each employee like family, they’d get a share of the profits that they, the employees, bust their asses to make for the corporations. 

That’s how you treat family. 

Not with a pizza party or a $25 Walmart gift card. 

With the money they helped you earn. 

I always discounted the services I provided to my employers, because I needed the money they gave me too much. I was a single mom, after all! I was the one that needed them, right?

At least more than they needed me, right?

Right?

Nop.

No way. 

They need you too. If you’re not there to help them manufacture, market, display, repair, plan, improve, and SELL, then they won’t make money. 

And don’t even get me started on corporate profits during the pandemic. 

I only have so much space. 

p.s. I know this was babbly and I have so much more I could say about this particular topic, but right now I’d rather art, so bye. 

 

 

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