The church is near but the road is all ice;
the tavern is far but I’ll walk very carefully.
Years ago, I was working for a minimal salary. My net pay barely covered the expenses of professional clothing, commuting, food and rent. I worked very hard the first year, trying to be the perfect employee, working quickly, seeking extra work, hoping I would earn a big raise. I slid sideways into debt when my car was totaled in an accident and my cat needed expensive medicine.
When I got my review, it was lukewarm, with no acknowledgement of my efforts and a minimal raise, not even keeping pace with inflation. I had a meeting with my boss, and I asked him if he was unhappy with my work. He said no.
“Did I forget any tasks you gave me or do them wrong? Was I too slow?”
Again, “No and no.”
“Then why are you giving me such a small raise?”
“Do you think you deserve the same raise as Monica who has been here nearly twenty years?”
“Are you saying I won’t get a good raise unless I work here twenty years?”
“You have to understand that we all have wives and children to support, and they come first. Why would I give you money that I could give to my wife and kids?”
I didn’t have any answer for that, and I got depressed. I had always believed that hard work was rewarded. I worked quickly, efficiently, but when I finished my work, I no longer sought extra. I started doing my own writing in the office, which angered him and eventually he fired me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I realize now that I chose to stay despite my unhappiness. Instead of leaving, I acted less than professionally and ended up deeply unhappy with him, but more importantly, with myself.
When I was fired, at first my self-esteem sank even lower, but financial desperation pushed me into following up every lead for new job. I found a great job where I relearned to value myself. I felt freer than I had in years. I changed careers and cities, which were great decisions. Being fired was a pivot point for me, and I learned something invaluable.
If I make bad choices, I only hurt myself, and I must make better choices. It sounds so simple, and maybe it is to some people. For me, it’s a daily effort. Some days I fail. Other days, it feels like climbing Mount Everest. But I am worth that effort.
dark clouds blow in fast
ice wolves wail and circle
curl up warm inside
These days, I don’t have every answer, and I’m not perfect. That is no longer even my goal. Each day I try to make good decisions. I try to respect myself, to find ways of seeking joy, and, as a result, I occasionally even find it.
green shoots reach skyward
gray ice mountains collapse
heart and soul quicken
Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham