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In Defense of Quiet Quitting

and why it shouldn't be called quitting

By Olivia BarkerPublished 2 years ago 3 min read

When I got my first big girl job in 2019 I was bright eyed and aiming to please. In my naivete, I believed I had to go above and beyond to keep my job. I was terrified of making a stupid mistake and getting fired. If I knew then what I know now.

I was the youngest Behavioral Health Assistant at a child and adolescent psychiatric institute and they took advantage of me from the start. I willingly agreed to work doubles. I sacrificed sleep and time with my family. I had no work life balance. All for a job that didn’t give me so much as a 10% raise in the two and a half years I gave them. Other employees did less than the bare minimum. They refused to take assignments while I felt I had no choice but to work on units where I didn’t feel safe. They spent most of the shift in the bathroom or the nurses station or 2 hours on their lunch break. They disrespected their supervisors, left the patients unattended, clocked out before they were scheduled to get off. Never did they ever get fired.

It took me almost two years to realize that in that particular job it took a lot more to get fired. Like breaking the law. But instead of dailing back and only focusing on what I was responsible for, I’d feel guilty about calling out of work for any reason. Even if I was legitimately sick. I was probably the best employee they had, but I was burnt out.

After two and a half years at the psychiatric institute, I moved on to my second big girl job as an Early Intervention Specialist. I immediately reverted back into the same naive people please I was in 2019. I wanted to be so good at my job. I wanted them to appreciate me. I wanted them to be proud to have me as part of their company. To make matters worse I had a passive aggressive supervisor who encouraged overworking yourself and bragged about working past 5:00. Any time I had a cancellation and tried to take a lunch break she’d call to make a comment about it and then give me a list of things to do.

I played that game. Getting started on work before 8:30 and working until 8 at night. I had panic attack after panic attack trying to keep up. I kept my frequency as high as I could manage. I did everything I could to meet deadlines. Again, I had no work life balance. I neglected my needs. I went hours without eating. I packed my schedule. I couldn’t even enjoy hobbies anymore. And again, I got nothing out of it.

I didn’t realize that none of it was worth it until I got a new supervisor. One who didn’t micromanage me or blow up my phone. One who didn’t expect me to start working before 8:30 or to keep working after 5:00. It wasn’t until then that I realized that none of what I was doing was worth it. But by then it was too late. I burnt out again. This time quicker than before.

I don’t understand how some people could call not letting your job consume you being lazy. There's nothing wrong with working if there's something to work towards, but what's the point of giving your all at a job that care more about profit than your well being. If there is no benefit to working hard. If there’s no room for growth. If all you get is more work for the same pay. If all you get is worsening mental health. I’d rather actually quit.

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