This morning, I got into a conversation with my baba, who always has amazing things to share about life. We talked about how resilience and determination take us far in life, and that we must face the harsh realities of the world we live in. Baba said, “You shouldn’t give up, my child. Even when you don’t mean it, you should not say this to anybody that you wanted to get fired rather than face all the bullying at work.” He often reminds me that the world, or more precisely, the people who inhabit it, can be unkind and unforgiving. Workplaces, he says, can be challenging, and it’s up to us to learn how to not only survive but thrive in this unforgiving world.
I’ve heard others say similar things, including my friends and cousins. They consider having a job as one of the greatest blessings in life. A job that pays the bills and feeds the family. Some people work in coal mines, risking their lives, not because they have a passion for it, but because they need to do something to survive. Life is exceptionally tough for some, and we should be grateful for the air-conditioned offices we sit in, the laptops we use, and the relative comfort of our lives. After all, nobody hands you money without making you go through a bit of hell.
But, does this perspective truly solve our problems or ease our pain? The answer is no. In reality, it often adds to our pain. We worry about demanding managers who seem never to be satisfied and the guilt of not appreciating the job we have, which many can only dream of.
How can we be grateful for days filled with anxiety, depression, and tears? It’s unrealistic to expect us to put on a smile when we’re slowly losing our sanity. This isn’t how gratitude works. We can’t be grateful for toxic bosses or toxic workplaces, thinking that things could be worse. Let’s not confuse gratefulness with submissiveness. We can be grateful for the opportunities we have while also acknowledging when it’s time to move on.
So, here’s how I see gratitude at work: I’m grateful for my supportive parents who sent me to university and allowed me to explore my passions. I’m grateful for my kind heart and the courage to express my fears and hopes without feeling guilty. I’m grateful for the strength to realize that I can’t work in a place where I’m bullied, and I’m even more grateful for the confidence I have in myself to seek out new opportunities. I refuse to be bound by anyone or any situation.
Let’s not put pressure on ourselves to be grateful for bad things in life, but rather see those unpleasant experiences as part of the process. Let’s say this loud and clear that we aren’t happy, we aren’t okay, we are miserable. Whenever someone asks me how I am, I think of it as an opportunity to tell the truth and don’t feel shy to speak my mind. So, one day, I met a sweet girl from the HR department and told her that I am not doing well, with eyes welling up as I told her I need help. I also asked her how one could resign on their probationary period. This really shook her! See, this is the power of ‘real’ tears.
This is part of a diary series on dealing with bullying at work.