Reaching the span of one year seemed like a very big goal to me. Not sure to every newly graduate but it surely was to me. I remember I failed to meet that goal once before at my first ever company. I want to make sure I’d do better in a new phase of my life.
I landed a very depressing job being the documentation guy. I was hasty to have any kind of job and that made me belong to an all woman department documenting all sorts of papers. I had a very low salary so earning money and eating was a struggle. Everyday travels meant I had to tread in the traffic hours and that too was depressing. Office hours seemed un-ideal these days for me. I felt like I wasted 7 months without progress and hope. I didn’t excel greatly to the kind of environment I was in and I dropped my resignation right after being a regular employee despite feeling guilty that I let 6 months wait first.
Failure comes but there’s always new opportunities lying ahead. I was invited for an interview at an ESL company owned by Koreans. This time, I spent a few weeks of vacation and not trying to rush things. This time I made sure I was good with the kind of work first. I know teaching is not my best skill but it is related to my field, plus the salary was a little bit better than the last one. But the best thing about the new job is working from 5 am to 2 pm. There was no traffic at that time and no rush hours. Traffic was another kind of stress for me and I try to avoid it as much as I could. I looked forward to the new opportunity!
I made it into the training last January 2016 and we were clearly told about our task: we’ll conduct a 10 or 20-minute english class to Koreans through a voice call with 10-minute breaks between 4 classes. Time is always the essence so call on time and talk within the time limit. It sounds easy but in fact, I was scared down to my stomach. In my case, as the first days usually roll by, I always feel anxiety. I felt nervous to every professional facing me. I felt scared I would fail the very simple task that was asked let alone having conversations with Koreans.
What is this new atmosphere that I would experience? And, I wonder how do I manage myself here? Fear drives me to think I wouldn’t last long. And, therefore, I ask myself the horrible question: Will I be able to last long in this place?
At least, I was enjoying myself in the training. It was like a throwback being able to enjoy the classroom setting. Being able to meet and talk to fun people eases my anxiety. Within 5 days of training, I made the most out of it with all the new friends I’ve been meeting every day and I was quite confident with everything I learned. I’ve had some successful demo classes with some staff members within the office which made me confident. Still, I know I was very nervous deep inside.
It was no joke
I had to re-demo for the last day. They didn’t like my lack of energy during the demo but I unknowingly did because of many disturbances besides me. So, on my 6th day (Monday) I was back to such an anxiety and, honestly, wasn’t doing my best and they expected more out of me. No matter how many times I tried I was too exhausted to think properly. Despite it, I was given another chance. If I screw it, I’m doomed!
This is a very problem I encounter at a new phase of work. When I feel I’m in hot water, especially when in a new environment with people I don’t know, I get the sort of scared feeling that stops me from giving my best.
I barely made it to the floor (what they call as the actual workplace) a couple days later. I met TL Ram who taught me more things I didn’t know about – comprehension tests, B2Bs, Incident reports, and Level-up tests. Already, that’s a lot to remember for me! Why wasn’t this included in the training? I ask myself.
Nonetheless, I managed to have a successful first talk to a Korean student! It was a big thing the first time but it’s more of ‘one of the novice days’ a few months passing. Yet I remember those older days when I used to have difficulties hearing the students because of their accents and pronunciation. Most of the time, there were still some difficulties. I’ve received some complaints occasionally about such concerns. I’ve never had a higher status when it comes to my performance. Despite in favor of the new schedule, I was still adjusting. Attendance was also one of my weak points. To get back at me, the company deducts more than your daily rate. It’s unfair obviously.
In the first months, I’m obviously not doing well and quitting was an easy way out. I am too afraid that the general manager will kick me out of the company but they give a second chance for me to change. I thought, no matter how weak a person or how new he is, it’s always good to give him a chance and let him shine. And so I did!
I took things seriously and changed my daily lifestyle. I let my eyes see what I couldn’t. I removed the toxic people around me and remained vigilant to keep my “1 year” goal no matter what.
It was a struggle that I slowly overcame! I was managing well with high energy and 30 classes daily in May. However, I took a fall when I got sick. The doctor told me to skip a week of work because I was closer to having pneumonia.
A Brand New Era
Action plans was a big term in our company. Do a mistake and do an action plan to avoid those failures. It took me a few months until I was able to get a hold of everything well. Having a week to take time off made me realize I was in a crucial situation. That the slightest cold air could make me sick. My body was in a state of weakness because I was working so hard without eating and sleeping properly. TL Ram placed me somewhere warmer in our office near the exit of our office in 1603 so that I wouldn’t absorb all the cold air. It all started to change there apparently. I got to kn0w people better in my team (replacing my old friends). Bridget, Perry, Ingrid, Julie, Tatiana, Andrew, Marky, Riley, Peter, Elle, Mira, Julia, and Keanna were some of those people I would always remember. My performance started to go up and my attitude towards work was steady! I gained better trust from my TL one time when he defended me from a complaint from a student taking a class at Starbucks. I made an incident report that there were plenty of background noises which disrupted the flow of the class right after the student dropped the call in the middle of the class. It was a satisfying feeling that the company trusted me once again after my failures. They gave me a chance and I didn’t waste it. It’s the first time I felt that way and I realized that trust builds a greater foundation beyond expectations.
I made it as a regular employee which means there’s only half a year left. I never knew I could make it! I’ve felt I’ve reached so far already. The nervous feelings seem to have dissipated and I was shrouded with happiness and confidence. What happened next was magical! It was none other than the annual team building in August!
The purpose was to get ourselves closer to EVERYONE in the company as we were told to be grouped with other people from all shifts and teams. Luckily, we were still all together on the bus ride. I stayed all along with my beloved teams and comedically still did at the team games. Despite being in a group of people I’ve never bothered to remember their names, I often go along with my team and my team does that as well. We seemed to be the only team who stayed together no matter what. At the night of the team building, I was part of the team performance. A mash-up of musicals were to be part of the performance such as On My Own, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, and etc. Included in the last part was the song “We’ll Always be Together” from Grease. It was at that part that I had to perform and I was awkward! At least Bridget, Julie, anEnter a captiond Ingrid were the stars of the show anyway so I guess being a backup was less harsh. “We’ll always be together” became a staple song for our group and a reminder of how we stay together.
It was one of the strongest days of our team and I couldn’t imagine being separate from them. One day a new TL was hired, and the news was: there were random teachers from different teams to be transferred to the new team. I was highly confident that I would stay. Come to think of it, why would I be chosen? There were so many candidates available and I am happily enjoying my time here. Why would the bond be broken after so much time spent with each other? I was confident everything would be fine!!
BUT THE LUCKY CANDIDATE IS…
Me!? I was gravely shocked by the news. Among all the people, why was I chosen? Here I am comfortable with where I am. We had built a foundation of trust and they just take away randomly. How dare could they do that? Sadly, what power did I have that could change the Korean manager’s decision. It was unfair.
I made the most out of my last days with my team. Already, they found Travis to replace me in my post. I spent the last weeks in October on a different floor and frequently visiting them if I had the luxury of 10 minutes. Still, I was officially Team Ram and therefore joined the old team during meetings until the new team was made official. The separate office was placed in the 17th floor. Just one floor away from my previous team. The new atmosphere had depressing tones. Everyone was quiet and no one talked to anyone. It was gray and it was silent but, most of all lonely. My new place was at the very end of the stations. Near the very corner of the room. Was this all I worked for? Worked hard just to see a dead end?
I always go back. Be with the team like I used to and have like what was normal. Before the new team was official in October, I had spent my last days with my old team at jump yard. A day when we were complete and we owned the night jumping our highest on the trampolines but I fell down deeper than I thought.
Rules became stricter and stricter. Now I can’t easily move around like I used to please but I could look out near the window nearby. I used to watch the clouds pass by and see the city from above, dreaming of soaring above in the calm morning sky. I had accepted the changes already but the motivation begins to fade slowly here. The usual energy was there but outside the class, there was nothing else but the silence. I made a good use of the wall by punching out my anger when I have an annoying student (like one child by the name of Sally). I always find my own little ways to persevere even in the deepest days.
A couple of months later, it’s official that all teams from the 16th and 17th floors shall be placed in the newly opened office at the 31st floor. Despite being on one floor with my old team, I still couldn’t move around without some being rebuked by some people. Team Ram was quite far from me so everyone would easily notice if I go around. The last thing I wanted was to limit communication with other people but that was implied already because of how strictly they demanded the rules.
The old team was the reason why working here made it fun in the first place. Despite having rules before, they used to be just beside me. I spend good conversations with my new team but there were no excitements.
It felt very limited but I played my hand and played them well. I did what would please the company and worked at my utmost peak. No matter how much things around me can get annoying I did my duties at a mile high. I was able to blog and sell cosmetics at the office as a sideline. My home responsibilities and work were kept at a decent balance. There was no stopping to what I do even if I could sleep for less than 6 hours on average. I started to peak in 2017 and I received the highest survey score in our team in January. An unexpected goal that I suddenly took hold of. Then just as I noticed, I was already near my goal of staying at a company for a year. It’s not long until I think about my next option after my goal. What else will there be ahead?
Will there be an end to what I started?
I’ve strived hard enough in the next days. Working harder than usual. Placing focus on the important work. That’s all I’ve known and done. I’ve forgotten how to rest and stop. This kind of managing was turning me into a robot with all the pressures and the demands.
In the next days, I became more and more aggressive. My energy was there not because I care about what I did but because it’s an SOP. In truth, I wasn’t smiling in the classes anymore and even my old team could do anything about it. I was pressured and I couldn’t help but become a hypocrite. I used sarcastic expressions to express my stress in the most subtle ways. With new rules given every time, I started losing it.
On March I’ve dealt with an irate student for the very first time. She was angry as she couldn’t understand what was supposed to be done in the comprehension test. I’m not used to talking to irritated students and that particular student really burst my bubbles. She just kept on saying that she will complain me and she wants to talk to a manager. We did that for a total of 5 minutes. This is the kind of stress I’ve been dealing with here ever since. It will always be my fault if the student gets irritated or dissatisfied. We, teachers, take all the blame and we feel we’re always not doing the right thing. I’ve had enough and fed up with it. After that class, I popped out all the stress.
Sadly, it didn’t stop there. One of the reasons why I stayed here is that I did my best to fight. No matter what I must achieve my goal. So I endured all of it. Every day, I took roughly 30 classes. For the first time ever, I really felt that our job is inhumane. We must talk all day while keeping it clear and perky for each class. Water breaks or snack breaks are becoming impossible because we had to finish the corrections or make reports. We had no other options.
They kept my schedule filled. While taking a class, I see that they’re slowly adding these “coupon classes” in the open slots. The motivation is already gone. I was never excited to take any sort of class and every time I wake up I wanted to not show up for work. After work, I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I didn’t even bother when I thought I lost my wallet. The magic of spending time with my old team and even looking at the window was gone. Nothing made me happy anymore. I felt like a whole different person. I’ve lost my passion of dreaming high and being free. I felt the Korean culture has affected me. Everything needs to be done in a hurry. There are no rests available but just try to make all minutes matter. All I had were lost sights.
I’ve talked to my friend Joms who said that he’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis. He’s gotten tired of doing things every day. As if nothing exciting is to be expected in the future. In fact, I felt the same. Am I dealing with quarter-life crisis too?
Nothing positive was coming out. 1 year and counting, do I deserve such a small increase from all the stress I’m going through? No holidays with my family and no way to take a rest. It was just not worth it anymore.
Closing the curtain
I’ve had it. It’s time to end this with a resignation letter.
While the company does not allow leaves on crucial dates (before and after holidays) and I’ve had enough or these crazy rules and deductions. I needed to finally let go and have a break.
With the companies ever changing rules and new management. It seemed there will be more difficulties ahead. I had a very decent talk for the first time in the company with the shift manager. Venting out to a higher employee felt good! It was nice to have someone listening to what was happening within the workplace. But, because, I had so many classes, the talk only lasted for 10 minutes but it was valuable!
Expressing work stress to a boss can greatly boost confidence at work. Sadly, despite feeling good in a few more classes, I’ve already decided. If I changed my mind, who knows? Maybe the intensity will continue on for as long as I know.
As much as there’s a slight chance to go back to being passionate, I am already fatigued. But, I never failed to appreciate the company’s aid over me. They still wanted to fix the root cause of my resignation. They listened and lessened the weight of my workload. Though it goes back and I fear if I stay, the same treatment is still going to be a standard. They still gave me an option to say no but I still want to give myself the freedom I deserve. May God guide me in a new era at hand.
All I’m looking forward now is a vacation. I will greatly miss the people and will always remember the struggles here. I’ve met great goals and great people. But now it’s the right time to say farewell.