It’s taken me 2 years to write this blog post because mentally, I wasn’t in a good place to write this. Now, I have nothing to hide. It has been mentioned several times I worked for two local newspapers in my hometown, but back in November 2018, I broke the news I was no longer employed with them and I was employed somewhere else. I mentioned briefly about how I was feeling while working there but it wasn’t until I was away from the newsroom I had a chance to fully realize what happened to me and what I went through.
A toxic work environment is described as a workplace that is marked by significant drama and infighting, where personal battles often harm productivity.
It took some time for me to realize for 2 years I worked in a toxic environment. The place where I got to do what I absolutely loved ended up being the worst placed for me.
Even now, with 2 years being at a new job, with coworkers who actually care for me, bosses that want to hear what I can offer and who give me new opportunities to better myself, it still kind of makes me pause. But it shouldn’t, because even in the last couple of months working at the papers, I knew something was wrong. My gut, mind and soul told me something didn’t feel right and this was not the place I had been hired at originally.
Let’s backtrack to October 2016, the start of it all. The two newspapers, which operated from 1 office because it was two small towns, were looking for a production manager because they were looking at bringing production in-office instead of sending their pages out. At the time, I worked for my college newspaper as one of their production designers so the newspaper’s advisor suggested me for the position. I sent in my application and was called for an interview immediately. I went in for it, set a start date and I was now working three jobs while still in college.
When I first started, it was nothing like it was now. Somewhere between then and now, it changed drastically. I want to say it first started when the managing editor I was originally working under left in Jan. 2017 to follow her husband as he played MLB and we received a new one. From the start, they were two completely different people. And if I have to hear “well I've been doing this for such and such amount of years” one more time, it’ll be too soon.
But I was able to ignore her and just do my job for a while. It was a rocky relationship but it got the papers designed, edited and out on the stands every week. The weak treaty continued until right up to about the time we got hit by a major hurricane and our entire office was devastated. It was at that point, I learned I could no longer try to keep the peace. I became passive and attempted to ignore her completely, because the only other person (besides our publisher) was our bookkeeper and I wasn’t ready to give our friendship up because of that.
So how did I know I was working in a toxic work environment? A couple of things actually:
Some people do not realize they are in a toxic environment until it is too late, and that was the hardest part for me to accept. I had always thought I had good intuition but now as the years have passed, I understand I wasn’t ready for any of what I went through. Even to this day, I still have days where I fall into this state of mind where “Am I doing my job right? What if they are gossiping about me and are they going to use it against me and my job? Am i worth it?” I was able to get out of the environment because my friend heard me and vouched for me at her job. I am now working at a job where each day is a new adventure, and while there have been ups and down, I finally feel safe there.
Please, if you ever feel like something isn't right in any environment you might be in, trust your gut. Because at the end of the day, you should be able to be proud of your job, you should be able to brag about what you do, your work friends and back up your boss if it ever came down to it. I couldn't do any that at the paper despite putting out TWO newspapers every week, starting and maintaining the social media accounts, designing and editing a Christmas special two times, and producing a Hurricane Harvey book. I was petrified. Now I get to work at a clinic where, despite me not going to medical school, I can still broaden my knowledge, work on projects that make me happy and not have panic attacks every day. Are there hard days? Yes. Absolutely. but nothing like what my hard days were at the paper.
I decided a while ago, I am just going to do what makes me happy and healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically - whether it is working, sending time with friends, cuddling my dog or just spending all day watching Netflix shows. I'm doing me, and no one else.
"If it scares you, it might be a good thing..."