In my corporate job, I handle a small staff of teachers, a mini-army of well-intentioned nurturers out to make the world a better place to live. Teachers by nature are nurturers; they provide, they protect, they console, they aid, they do everything in their power to make sure their wards are growing under their care. That’s why I hire them, to care as deeply as they do.
“I have no answer for you. It’s best not to answer that question for them, and to simply refer them back to the person they spoke with,” I blandly answered into the phone. That was the corporate answer I’ve been taught. I’m taught to say that because it protects the teacher; the less they know about the business behind student recruitment, the better.
“How do you not know?” her voice is incredulous on the other end. “You work there!”
“I know nothing. That is all I know. It’s always best to refer them back to the person they spoke with,” I repeat. But I’m thinking, “I know. I know a lot. But I’ve signed paperwork that says I can never tell you, that it’s all a secret, and that I can be sued if I even begin to answer it.”
She sighs. “This whole thing just gives me a… feeling.” She concludes suspiciously and hangs up.
In that moment when I could clearly hear the dial tone of the now dead phone line buzzing in my ear, when the weight of her well-deserved doubt laid on my shoulders, when the tears were starting to roll down my frustrated cheeks… I knew I was selling my soul for money. For MONEY! For a PAYCHECK!!!
I have never believed in the company or its growth or its supposed mission statement. I have turned a blind eye to the shady-ness of the sales department despite my deep moral misgivings. I keep my mouth shut, put my head down, and despite distrusting the entire line of directors above me, I follow their directions and do their dirty work. And now, I had just silenced my true opinions -and hurt a colleague in the process!- in order to toe the corporate line.
The crying was painful but it was the crack of realization: This is not me. And if this is me, I don’t want to be it anymore.
It was all so clear at that moment.
They say you can agonize about a decision for eternity but to actually make a decision takes less than a second.
Two days later, I simply sent an email to my boss. It was my resignation letter.