You Are Not Your Job: What I Learned From Being An Outcast At Work
Whether you are at a retail establishment or an office job, keeping a team of motivated and supportive coworkers together is like putting a dog in a Christmas outfit for a single picture — ridiculously hard and super frustrating.
Unfortunately, the law of an all-girls school applies: There will always be drama with more than one person in the room.
Throughout my five years in retail, I have picked up on the cliques and the drama that accompany working with a team of 25 or more workers. People will judge you for working too much, not enough, being too perky or not perky enough.
While working, you’re in a fishbowl; not only are you being watched by customers, but also by employees enjoy staring down struggling outcasts, trying to make it through eight-hour shifts.
Have you ever been the victim of workplace bullying? It’s a sick mind game.
The first few shifts at a new job are like a probation period with the cool girls to see if you can sit with them. Employees ask you about your favorite stores, whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend and what your living situation is like.
It’s like a post-hiring interview. Don’t fall for it.
Every time I have started a new job, I always seem to forget that less is more. Don’t waste your time telling your potential new BFFs all about your life. They don’t care. Apparently, they are looking for something specific, and if you don’t have what it takes, you’re immediately written off.
Do yourself a favor and listen: Do not disclose your personal life to employees.
Disclosing information about your life can lead to premature judging and, in my experience, an immediate write-off. Not for nothing, but these people don’t know you, and I’m not sure they even care.
I’ve spent eight- or nine-hour shifts completely alone, watching groups of people go out for cigarettes together, or go on lunch breaks to Chipotle. I couldn’t stand it.
One day, I came home completely hysterical over a comment made about me. It wasn’t spoken to me directly, but more as I was passing by. “Sloppy butch,” followed by an uproar of laughs. I won’t forget it.
I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it did. Not only did this twerp have the nerve to call me a name, but to laugh, too? I had to stop it, right then and there. I didn’t start an argument and I didn’t cry in front of them; I just internally sucked it up.
That’s the Irish in me, I guess. I went home and cried for hours. I cried about the way the registers processed returns; I cried about the stock room, and mostly, I cried because I didn’t know what I did wrong.
I didn’t know why I was so terrible, why I felt so hurt.
After my eyes dried, I realized: I’m not terrible. I’m not any of those things. I have friends and I have a life. I’m smart and I’m educated. Why am I letting a bunch of unfriendly, no-good people put me in a corner?
Something in me snapped. I told myself to get it together, put my blinders on and become the best I could be. Sure, it isn’t my career, but it’s my life at this moment, so I must make the best of it.
This part is still hard for me. After years of handling the same kind of crap, I’m no longer regarded as someone to bully. I don’t take it anymore.
My advice? Don’t quit. People suck. The way you deal with cliques at work is to get better at your job. Not only does your manager notice, but also, your coworkers stop mocking and hating you. I promise.
There is no better revenge than being better than another person by beating that person at his or her own game; by mind-f*cking that person. Having no one to talk to about the girl in HR who always gives you the stink eye is terrible, but probably for the best.
Don’t fall into the drama. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that your job, whether it is a career or a filler job, is a JOB. A job does not define you as a person, for better or for worse.
Being bullied in school is one thing, but being bullied in a job is another. Being an outcast at work can affect you, but it shouldn’t. No one should focus on the problems in a workplace. Most of the time, focusing on the wrong thing will just lead you to go crazy and ultimately get you fired.
No income? No turning up on the weekend. Just saying…