Julie Roberts said, “Life is like a movie to me. Everybody has their own movie that’s playing out every day, and you’re writing it.”
I love this quote because it reminds me that my life is the most interesting movie I will ever watch—partly because I know the finer details of my own life. The story of my life, when I reminisce, can either seem dull or exciting, depending on how I frame it. I imagine the same goes for every person.
Framing one’s own life is so important because life rarely goes the way you think it will. I thought to myself, just the other day, my life has not gone the way I expected it go once, and it’s true. I never would have imagined myself living this life, doing the things I’m doing now.
For example, I am divorced. I thought I would never get a divorce, let alone a year into the marriage, but that is what happened. The divorce is where this story begins—the story of why I quit my corporate job.
Once I had decided to leave my then husband—or rather my husband told me he preferred to maintain his current lifestyle instead of our marriage—I moved back home. The employer I worked for prior to moving to my husband’s home state requested I come back to work for him. I needed a job, and since I had worked for this employer before, it felt like an easy choice.
It was arranged, before I even fully moved back home, that this company would hire me, immediately upon my return. The job title discussed was Professional Technical Writer because my degree is in English with an emphasis in Professional and Technical Writing.
On my first day back at work, just four days after moving back in with my parents, an offer letter was set down on the table in front of me. There was just one problem: The job being offered to me was not the one we had discussed. The job title on this offer letter said, “Test Engineer.” This raised a small red flag in my mind, but I was so preoccupied with my divorce and the fact that I needed to soldier on—I needed to make money to support myself—I said nothing and signed the offer letter anyway.
This is arguably where the issues with this job began. Note to readers: Never take a job with a title that makes you uncomfortable. The second problem occurred during the first project I was tasked with. The first project I had as a test engineer was acquired not long before my hire date. This project was in support of an external company, and it was continually sabotaged. For example, I scheduled a meeting with this client and my boss to discuss the status of the project. My boss knew about the meeting, but missed it entirely because he was taking a flying lesson instead.
To put it lightly, the project was poorly managed. To make my situation worse, it was requested of me that I refrain from sharing my true credentials with anyone, meaning, my employers did not want the external company to know that they hired an induvial with an English degree to manage an engineering project better suited to a senior engineer. This probably came down to not wanting to spend additional money to hire the appropriate person to fulfill this role, but that is only my assumption.
At the close of this project, I began another project. This time, thankfully, the project involved work related to my professional background—writing. Prior to the kickoff of this project, however, my employers sat me down and explained that they would be hiring a proposal manager. Guess who this person was? My employer’s current flight instructor and girlfriend.
The pair always denied the rumors that they were dating, but they were caught multiple times going out to dinner together. They took a romantic trip to South Dakota, going so far as showing me and my other coworkers the photos from this trip. It was additionally confirmed that this woman spent the night at my employer’s house. Maybe none of these things would be problematic if this individual had any prior experience with proposal management—or any type of management—of which she had none.
Very quickly, this individual became the office bully, recognizing her power as the girlfriend of the CEO. No one could complain to management because she was dating the management. Crazy.
This image literally describes what I endured…
Relationships throughout the office deteriorated quickly due to the presence of this individual for numerous reasons. She bullied me severely to the point at which I developed a slight case of PTSD, later documented by the company’s HR director. She made enemies with everyone.
Eventually, the company struggled to function with her presence. The CEO had unofficially—or maybe officially—broken up with this individual. She was slowly pushed and controlled further to prevent her from causing any more damage until she finally decided to leave the company and return to flying.
She wasn’t the first person to leave the company. Several other people had begun to leave, perhaps due in part to the company’s deteriorating culture. One individual left because she had overheard a conversation about herself. This conversation was held in the room attached to her office, allowing her to hear most of the conversation. The conversation was between an executive and her direct supervisor, and they were discussing how to let her go. Professional—I know.
The company’s culture declined steadily, beginning with the hiring of the CEO’s girlfriend, but certain other incidents further solidified the shift in culture.
Shortly after the girlfriend quit—maybe about two weeks after she left—my boss began tightening his control on the workplace. Was he bored? A camera was installed pointed directly at my desk, and it quickly became clear that my boss had recruited one of my coworkers to begin collecting information about me and passing it along to my boss. The day I caught my coworker passing information to my boss, I drafted my resignation letter. The next day, I handed in my resignation.
You may be wondering why I am telling this story. It sounds like gossip. I’m sharing this story because we often think bad things only happen to other people—in movies.
While I was still in college, one of my professors showed a film from the ‘80s. In this film, women reported the way they were treated in the workplace. One of these women explained how she found out her boss was spying on her: He had installed hidden cameras in her office. I remember thinking to myself that no one would ever do that to me. I always worked for good people. Even if those people sometimes disliked me, I always worked for good people.
Well, it did happen to me. It can happen to anyone. I never thought I would get divorced, I never thought I would live on the East Coast, I never thought my boss would spy on me, and yet, all these things came to pass.
We live in an uncertain world. It’s important to keep your resume current; it’s important to have a sizeable emergency savings fund; it’s important to have more than one stream of income.
Never assume, after reading my story, or watching a film, that these bizarre and unlikely events will not happen to you. In fact, if you think about it, I’m sure you can list several events of equal or greater impact that happened to you.
This truly is the principle behind an emergency savings fund. When I quit my job, I had three months of living expenses saved. While many experts will tell you to have six months—and now that I have relied on my emergency savings account, I strongly agree—building in safety measures for your life will help you weather the inevitable storms life will throw your way.
Be prepared. You are the director of your own movie, so be intentional about what you write.