I killed your loyal employee.
I had to do it. I remember seeing the young girl at her desk smiling and dancing while she typed away at the computer, completing the task she had been given that day. It was her first day in a corporate job, and she was well on her way to achieving all her dreams. The only problem was that she believed that you would support her goals. All she had to do was work hard and impress you, and there would be promotions and raises. Eventually, she would make enough and move forward, having everything she needed to invest in her dreams.
It took her a year to realize that what you initially promised her was a lie. So she finished obtaining her second degree, and after another year and a half, you presented her with another “opportunity” that paid a little more. It was a similar but newer challenge. Being who she was, she went back to it with a smile.
With a little more formal education now, she was sure that she could make a difference in the position, offer suggestions and become a positive addition to her new workplace. But you ignored her when she offered advice, praised her for how fast she was learning, and criticized her appearance (in her knee-length dresses and skirts, blazer, blouses, and heels, she didn’t look professional enough. Did you maybe have an issue with her hair?) She showed up early, stayed late, and was always willing to go above and beyond her duties. You gave her more work and then promptly let her go without warning or explanation.
That’s when she started to realize that maybe you didn’t care about her at all, but she would quickly shake that thought, and her optimism and loyalty returned when you presented her with an even better opportunity in a new field. She was happy, at first. Now she could exercise more of her knowledge and creativity. You guys were pleased with each other, but I think you got a little too happy with her after a year. Did you think she could do the work of four people? Tsk. Tsk.
Thanks to you your little blunder, I was ready to go for the kill.
My girl pushed back this time. She had finally found a voice to respond to your constant demands. So you backed down a little, and she calmed down.
But my friend, you went haywire, and by the time you tried to make her come into the office for no other reason than to be micro-managed and held up in hours-long meetings where she couldn’t do the work she enjoyed doing, the work she was hired for, she was already dead.
See, while you were busy trying to make her your mindless slave, who felt compelled to do everything you asked, I was murdering her fear. I killed the parts of her that made her feel like she had to do everything you say to live the life that she dreamed of living. For the longest time, this large part of her allowed people to take advantage of her for fear of repercussions. Well, I got rid of it.
The woman you saw with her resignation letter that day wasn’t the naive girl who felt you had her best interest at heart. She wasn’t the girl who foolishly believed that if she gave it her all, you would reciprocate and appreciate the effort. No, she was long gone.
That day you saw what was left of that girl. All that remained was a confident young woman who realized that she was better off working hard for herself and her future. The remains of that girl consisted of a whole person who understood that when she did accept any of your opportunities, she would demand that she is adequately paid. She would set expectations, and there would be no hiring her for her expertise only to not listen to her and then wonder why nothing is working. Time-off would be a requirement, not a reward.
When she walked in the office that day, quiet and cheerful, she wasn’t just resigning from one of the “opportunities” you had given her. She was leaving from the one-way agreement you made with her.
The deal was that you were her savior instead of partners who could achieve individual interests by working together. Don’t worry; it’s too late now. The woman left behind knows that you would never intend to be partners with her in the first place.
I know it must be shocking to hear that the girl you knew is never coming back. But trust me, this death was the best thing that ever happened to her because the woman left behind will go after her dreams relentlessly whether or not you choose to be on board.