Three years ago today I was on my way home a business trip in California. I was living the dream, working in a career that I loved, being a real adult, paying all of my bills and living completely independently. I felt like I had my life together and that I was FINALLY doing everything right.
It was also one of the worst times of my life. I worked with a boss that was verbally abusive every single day. This trip was horrifying for me because I had to spend 4 days with him. I did my best to be polite and professional, but inside I was dying. Nothing that I did or said was right or enough for him.
I was struggling hard with depression and anxiety at the time, so much so that I didn’t want to leave the house. But I had to travel, it was part of my job.
The first day of the trip we arrived at the airport in Charlotte at 5:30am. I wasn’t even awake enough to think about food and figured I would get something during our layover in Dallas. But when we got to Dallas the 45 min layover was barely enough to make it to the next plane. By the time we made it to San Bernardino I was STARVING. I told my boss this and he said something like yeah, yeah. We are going to the Oakley factory store first and then we will get something later. So we spent an hour in traffic going to this store and I waited more than an hour for him to shop. I was getting dizzy and feeling sick at this point. I finally said “I really need to eat. I’m not feeling well.” He threw a fit, but finally picked some hole in the wall place. The whole time we ate he made me feel guilty for not wanting to eat at a nicer place later. I did want to eat at the nicer place, I just needed to eat more than once that day.
Later I declined to go to dinner with him. Again he was not happy.
The next day I rode with him to the race track. The whole reason that we were in CA was to go to the race track. But he didn’t want to be there. We was planning on going on some hike that afternoon and was so mad at me that I didn’t want to go with him. It was no inconvenience to him as I was riding back to the motel with a friend of mine, but still, he was mad.
I said no to dinner again that night. He got even madder.
By Sunday we were barely speaking to each other. It was fine with me. I was just trying to keep my head above water with all of my depression and anxiety. Plus, even though going to the racetrack was my favorite thing in the world, on race day my anxiety went through the roof. I had to be around a massive amount of people and talk to them and it was all overwhelming.
Halfway through the race our clients left, we were done working. I wanted to stay and watch the race, but my boss insisted we leave right then. He wanted to go to the beach. So we left. We checked into another motel and he was again pissed that I didn’t want to go to the beach. I just wanted to crawl into bed and watch the rest of the race.
The next day we made the trip home. I barely said two words to him. He was clearly pissed at me all day.
When I returned to work the after the trip my boss sat down in my office and told me, again, what a terrible person I was and what a crappy personality I had. He said I was rude and unprofessional and that I needed to change everything about me and my attitude if I was ever going to make it in this life. He said no one liked me and I was so horrible to be around that he just didn’t know what he was going to do.
I went home and cried. My depression was overwhelming at that time. I was going to the doctor and the counselor and doing all of the things that I could to try and fix it. It wasn’t helping though. I still had this overwhelming feeling of dread and numbness. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything and that I was completely worthless. And here was my boss telling me that all of those things were true. I was broken and he thought I could just fix it. If he only knew all the things I tried to do to fix it.
It wasn’t too long after that that I seriously contemplated suicide for the first time.
Thankfully I had a great counselor who helped me to see that this boss was wrong about me. About the same time I remembered this test I had taken years ago in college and started to study about it some more. That was when those four letters started to mean a whole lot more to me: INTJ.
My stupid boss was right about one thing: I’m not like all of the other girls. But he was wrong about one thing too: I DON’T need to change a thing about me to “make it in this world.” Just because I’m different doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. Just because I look at things differently and respond differently than he thinks I should doesn’t mean that I need to change. I just needed a different boss. That’s all.
It’s only taken me 32 years to figure this out. And I thought I was smart…