One day, I finally realized I was just holding on.
I was clinging to work that I didn't enjoy.
I was grasping onto a position that didn't fit me.
I was lingering in an environment that wasn't healthy.
I was sticking with something that was draining all of my energy.
If I had been completely honest with myself, I think I would have known when I accepted the position that I was heading to a job that was not a good fit for me. I knew that even as I was I was going through the interview process.
Some of the work was very, very detail-oriented, which was not my forte. I knew that. I talked myself into it because I thought it would be good experience to get my hands dirty and have it on my resume.
I interviewed with two people who would be a part of my future team. They both seemed very immature. My gut raised a red flag because I value teamwork. I enjoy people who are truly collaborative and who work for the greater good, not just their own recognition.
I was stunned when one of my teammates said, "You know, you can never trust our boss." Another big red flag waved, but I ignored that one, too.
I was told the job would be 50 percent traveling. I like traveling. Yes, 50 percent sounded a lot, but I convinced myself it was not a big deal. I didn't realize how exhausting it would be.
Why did I take the job when there were red flags?
On paper, the job looked like a pretty good fit with my background. I had the skill set and experience to do it. Also, someone said I'd be working with an elite group of people, one that others would die to be part of. My ego responded to that one. Being in a place where outsiders looked in with envy sounded too good to pass up.
Intellectually, it sounded good enough.
I tried to mold myself to fit into that position. Sounds painful, doesn't it?
In hindsight, I can clearly see that I knew from the beginning how it would end. Fear convinced me that I might not ever find a job that could compare to that one. I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity.
Ultimately, my decision to take the job kept coming back to this: It looked good on my resume.
Isn't that how people judge you, by what's on your resume?
So how did I do?
I didn't excel.
The work wasn't a good fit with my strengths. And I didn't enjoy the culture of the team. It was a dysfunctional team with no trust among the members. It was evident that our boss didn't care about us, and no one trusted our boss.
Instead of thriving like I'd hoped, I lived in constant fear. I was scared that I was always doing something wrong. I was scared that my opinion was not good enough. I was scared I would say something stupid. Even writing a simple email was a chore because I was afraid of the smallest error or typo. I couldn't speak up at meetings because I wasn't sure that I was adding value to the discussion.
During my tenure at that job, I became a smaller and smaller version of my former self. I decided my only recourse was to keep my head down and try to be as invisible as I could.
What went wrong?
Instead of dealing with my challenges, I kept them to myself and tried to push through.
I feared I'd be labeled a failure. The only way I knew to get through it was to work harder, push harder. Everything felt like a chore. I would say YES to almost everything that came my way, even when I really wanted to say NO.
My body tried to tell me that the job wasn't a good fit. Every time I said YES to something I didn't want to do, my stomach actually cringed. But rather than listen, I put my head down and got back to work. I was too afraid and too exhausted to stand up and make changes.
I basically became a walking, stressed out doormat.
Mornings became exercises in getting out of bed and crying in the shower to wash my misery down the drain. I believed I couldn't tell my friends or colleagues the truth. I was too proud to share how low I'd become. You can read more about how my stubborn pride got in my way.
I believed that telling the truth about how bad I felt would be the same as admitting I had failed.
I sound like a complete loser, but the truth is I'm an intelligent, driven, result oriented, creative, fun-loving problem solver. In a nutshell, I'm pretty badass. But at that time, I couldn't find any of those qualities inside myself.
Best decision I've ever made.
I finally did one thing right. I asked myself: Why am I clinging on to this position when I'm so unhappy?
The answer was simple: Because of my visa situation at that time. (I was an international working in the United States). I realized if that was the only reason I stayed, it wasn't worth wasting my time, talent and my life.
So, I got outta there!
Where did I go?
Looking back, the answer is simple. I got out of my own way. I started living my life the way that made me happy. Some people might call it following your passion.
For the longest time, I couldn't figure out what my passion was. I thought it had to sound intellectual and impressive with big words.
But eventually I figured out that my passion is to help people shine.
I had a real heart-to-heart conversation with myself and got really honest. I decided to trust myself and follow what my heart and gut told me to do.
Listen and trust yourself.
That's the lesson I learned from this experience. No more molding to fit other people's ideals, and no more agreeing to things I don't believe in.
I still have my struggles, but I no longer live in fear. Now I embrace my flaws and I just let them be. When I wake up, I can't wait to start the new day.
I'm happy with my work and my life. Are you?
My question to you: Is your job/environment a good fit, or are you molding yourself to fit in?
Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.