“It’s true: people can change. We can all learn from others and be surprised by their abilities. But if someone does the same thing, over and over again—if they keep hurting, disrespecting, or disappointing you—it’s time to accept the way things are and ask yourself if you can really live with this. You can’t make someone change their pattern if they’re not willing or ready, but you can stop participating in it.” ~Lori Deschene
I had quit before. This was one of those jobs where many people came and went: it was a job writing for the local paper, which paid per word. It wasn’t freelance, but you have to consider what freedom means.
Feeling free shouldn’t mean getting calls and texts in the middle of the night, consisting of single four letter words, like “f*ck,” or, if my editor was feeling chatty, “you need to fix this immediately.”
Feeling free shouldn’t mean sitting through a four-hour-long meeting at city hall without being compensated for that time, only to write an article about it, have said article rejected, and then get nothing—not a single dime—for your efforts.
If this woman paid in criticism, I’d be rich. SheHe was very wealthy. In fact, her food reviewer quit because she didn’t pay him beyond comping his meals. He now works for CNN.
Anyway, when I cried to a friend about her, he said she was probably a “borderline” personality. She was a snitch, but she also gave me a lot of praise. She called me the best writer in her group, and said that my stories were beautiful.
I hate you! Don’t leave me! It was the predominant vibe of most of our conversations.
She suggested liposuction for my chubby cheeks and called my freckles “sun damage.” Sometimes her emails came with emojis of praying hands.
Make-up is required for the interview.
Get Grammarly. There are so many errors.
However, I took it all in, returning to her as freelance money became scarce. This was mostly because I love to write. It was almost like taking a bite out of chocolate when it was raining.
When I enjoyed a story, it was so good that I whistled as I worked.
Reporter is everything I love about being a journalist: Meeting new people, writing feature articles on them, and feeling the adrenaline when an article has been shared thousands upon thousands of times.
I even got recognized at parties miles from home—by readers who said they only subscribed to the paper for My stories. In 2020, I was awarded a Florida Press Award. Through my research, I was able to learn more about the people and places which influenced my books. This gave me the confidence to open my own publishing house.
I’m getting a fifth novel published. I have letters from students who took my English classes, claiming I’ve made a difference in their lives.
Taking stock of my successes, I realized this toxic boss wasn’t really part of them. It was only a moldy old stepping stone, which cut my feet each time I saw her again.
My dream job teaching Shakespeare was the moment I realized I had to let her go. Although I was surprised, it wasn’t surprising. After all, I was only a sub and the school had already found an English teacher.
But the thing is, I’d had six blissful months of earning 1,000 times the rate Attila the Hun at the paper paid.
I was used to working insanely hard for insane people, and teaching could be that way too sometimes, but at least you got paid—and no one called you in the middle of the night.
My addiction to direct deposit and civil treatment seemed to have made me addicted.
We earned 10 cents per word at the newspaper and were required to take our own photos, tag each article and format it to her blog platform. Follow up with interview subjects and make any last-minute adjustments to almost every story.
I did not follow her guidelines and showed people the drafts to my readers before publishing. This was not allowed by her because she said it was illegal. HerContent, but not They. They would not shape it.
The day I quit, she had done one of her classic sociopathic hit jobs on me—the kind that made my head pound as though my temples were being crushed in a Medieval torture device.
My article was about a town’s new real-estate project. She began to text me pictures of complaints from readers just an hour later.
She wanted me to edit or delete the article. Either way, I probably wouldn’t get paid.
I ignored her message calling me an unprofessional hack, and I decided to think carefully about my response before I responded.
We went on a sunset stroll with our dog, my husband. He said he’d be disappointed in me if I didn’t finally—after nearly five years of abuse—just walk away from this deranged person. My complaining was getting old. It was now time to close that door and seal the deal with super glue.
And so I did. After we returned from the walk, I took a sip from my tall glass of water, and then calmly grabbed my phone. I typed a message with just one finger.
I didn’t bother to punctuate it.
In order to keep my promise, I blocked her and her media company for the following half hour on all apps that we shared a mutual follow.
Although I was able find a way to email her directly, it wasn’t until I looked at the mail that I realized how.
It said I lacked the courage to admit I’d made a mistake, and she was disappointed in me. Stop making excuses. I’d left my interview contacts in limbo.
The last person I’d interviewed was a pastor at a Presbyterian church. We’d not met face to face because of a scheduling conflict.
He gave me a great interview—my best story of 2022. His desire was for people to understand Jesus. But not only in the context of some useless facts. He wanted us to see him as someone that we could relate with and be inspired by.
On the same day that I had quit, he contacted me to say thanks for my writings about his family. The couple, their 2-year-old son and his wife had just relocated from Georgia. They’d never seen Florida before and found the subtropics both fascinating and beautiful.
But he’d also written me to ask if I could change the caption on his photo.
Journalism is exhausting.
I told him he’d have to email my editor about that as I no longer worked for the paper.
“Good for you,” he wrote. “You did an excellent, professional job. I’d love to meet you in person some time.”
I told him I’d check out the church, maybe even hear his Mother’s Day sermon with my kids. I’d have more family time without a toxic boss in my life.
The last bit I forgot.
As for my pervasive fear that leaving the paper would end my writing career, I’ve already gotten a call from the editor of her rival paper and am meeting him for coffee soon.
For me, meeting new people is essential. It’s possible to write about people while also becoming state-certified teacher.
Anyway, I wrote this essay on quitting because sometimes it’s the right thing to do. When you’ve given someone all that you have to give, and it is still, somehow, not good enough, maybe quitting is the only thing you can do. It’s a fresh start, and that Mad tea party you are leaving? It’s just going to keep going on, with or without you.
Jennifer Russon, an Indie Author of Four Novels with a Fifth on the Way is Jennifer Russon. She is also owner and editor-in-chief at Swallow Publishing. She spends her days walking and practicing daily gratitude. With her family, she lives in South Florida.
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Tiny Buddha published the post She Was a Terrible Boss and She Quit: Why She Finally Gave Up originally on Tiny Buddha.