What I Learned From Standing Up For Myself At Work

What I Learned From Standing Up For Myself At Work


They say you need to own your story. And I haven’t been fully owning mine. My job isn’t good.. It’s mundane, depressing, mentally exhausting, gives me anxiety and more than a few times I have burst into tears when no one is looking. Which, by the way, I am not a crier, but they just come out of no where! It’s truly hard to be happy when you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, at a place that doesn’t grow you, challenge you, and most of all, value you. But with an addiction to travelling and having rent, phone, car, gas, and power bills to pay (not to mention being a healthy vegetarian is breaking my bank) what is a girl to do?


This past month and a bit have been somewhat of a nightmare/gong show/lameo time, and it has really put my peace of mind to the test. I am not a confrontational person and I like to be by myself. I like getting up at 5AM just so I can have me time. A few hours to collect my thoughts and mentally prepare myself for the day that’s about to come.


During this past month I had to make the decision to put my foot down and stand up for myself, which lead to a huge fiasco and I can’t even say anything about it to anyone. When it’s all over I would like to share the truth behind Fernweh and what it is exactly I do to make money. Hint – it’s not glamorous.. In fact, I never really say what I do for work. You know my barista years and Cirque du Soleil years are behind me so how does one fund all her travels? I feel like it may explain a few things about why my blog is all over the place and why I have so many ups and downs.. But that’s for a different story. Right now lets talk about what I learned from standing up for myself at work and why it’s important you do so as well!


Bulling Is Not Okay – So Don’t Feel Bad

It could be at work or a friend, or someone you know, but being bullied is not okay. It is not okay to treat others with disrespect and it’s not okay to make someone feel bad about themselves. When someone is bulling they can get away with it if you stay silent and will keep repeating their behaviours till someone tells them no. Sometimes it’s up to us to put the foot down and put an end to their behaviour so don’t feel bad about standing up for yourself! You don’t have to feel bad about standing up to a bully and shouldn’t worry about “causing drama.” I know I have such back and forths because it’s so hard being the person to say something but I’m glad I did.


It Might Get Messy

Standing up for myself has lead to a whole can of worms being opened and I have been dealing with pretty well I think.. considering there is now an investigation happening. Yes, an investigation. How the heck did a travel writer get herself into this mess? I ask myself everyday why I didn’t leave this job but here we are. What I learned is people talk, and come to their own conclusions, and there is two sides to every story, and yours is not always heard or believed. Me confronting someone about an issue has made things harder for myself and I have no control over them unfortunately. But I just think about what the repercussions would have been if I did stay quiet and how ultimately things would have been worse than they are now.


Document Everything

When my incident happened I wrote it down immediately. When I was told to say what happened I couldn’t remember because I was so in shock and focused on what was happening that I guess my brain decided to not make a memory. But I was smart enough to write it down on my notes on my iPhone immediately after because after 30 minutes I couldn’t recall anything. If it wasn’t for that note I made then I would have been going in blind and wouldn’t have sounded so sure of myself.


Stick To Your Guns

When I said something no one listened. They brushed me off and drowned my concerns. No one would acknowledge there was a problem because in doing so that would be admitting there was a problem which ‘they’ couldn’t have. Which lead to something not okay happening, to me, which lead to me having to hold my ground. People try to confuse you and make you dance around your statement to see if there is a flaw but you have to stick to your guns. Do not doubt yourself. I had to make it known that I was serious and would not be taking this incident lightly and I got everyone I could involved to make my stand. To tell them this is their fault because of their lack of action.


You Teach People How To Treat You

If you let one thing slide, then other things will be harder to catch and stop once they’ve already started. I learned that not being assertive from the beginning has lead four years of torment, self doubt, depression, and overall worthlessness, all because I didn’t take it serious enough. I wish I could go back and quit this job from the beginning and focus on my writing and I wish I would have never flown home from Europe 3 years ago but I did. As someone who is so easy going I find it hard to have people take me seriously. I’m not loud, giggly, stupid, or commanding so I often get overlooked in the crowd, and for some reason people think that gives them a right to have a power trip over me. Which they don’t.


Always Be Political

When standing up for yourself you can’t say “He was being mean to me!” You have to use calm behaviour and talk it through. No name calling, use the correct words and when being asked questions make sure you are listening to their words as well. If someone is implying something ask them straight out what they mean. Example if someone asked “Were you probing them?” Counter with, “If you’re implying I was provoking them then no, but I was asking a question and not in any kind of disrespectful tone or manner.” It pays off to be political and level headed no matter how heated you may be on the inside. But I made my point clear, or I hoped I did, and even after all this crap that’s happened afterwards I’m just glad it was me that this happened to an not someone else.


If You Have A Union, Use Them

I never new what a union was or what they were for. But thanks to a co-worker who was with me she made sure to tell me to ask for a Union Rep no matter what they say. And sure enough they said they didn’t know if they could get me one but I was admit that they were involved. It helps to have someone on your side and who will be there to make sure you are being looked after so don’t be afraid to ask for them!


Leave Somewhere You Are Not Valued

Being a little person for a giant company has to be the worst position in the world. You have no respect, your interests are looked after last, and I am always reminded, unless you have a truly amazing company, they want to protect themselves – not you. So this is the end. I am not valued, I certainly haven’t gained any skills besides the ones that has taught me how to deal with people who think they are better than you. Which is pretty sad. I work hard, I am a great worker, and I have wasted my time and years working for a place that can’t see that. If they tell you you are replaceable then show them how valued you are somewhere else because they don’t deserve you.


Hopefully this didn’t sound like a too ranty of post but I needed to get it off my chest! I wrote this a month ago and have been back and forth about posting it. I also wanted to say I will be running away to China this fall/winter for 2 months so stay tuned for some serious China lust!

Have you had a similar experience? What’s your story when you stood up for yourself? Share in the comments so I can read your stories :]

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ps. the investigation is over and if you want to know the full story just comment and I’ll write a post!


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  • Reply
    Head Elsewhere
    November 13, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Kudos to you, it takes guts to share stories like these and stand up for yourself. I struggled with the BS of “office politics” at my first job and am much happier now that I’m working remotely. Money isn’t worthing exchanging your self-respect for.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    I had a really similar situation a few years ago. It’s why I ended up going freelance because I just hated my time here so much. I thought about reporting him, but there were so many steps I had to go through that I wasn’t comfortable with (like telling him I felt like he was bullying me – fuck that). So I totally understand how that feels, and it fucking sucks. I’m glad you got through it. And good on you for being honest about it. You’d be surprised how many people go through these situations too.
    On a lighter note, China!! Amazing! I absolutely loved my time in China. And I’m sure you will too Shelby!! xx

  • Reply
    Bria | Tendril Wild
    October 4, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Bravo for being brave enough to write this post and put it out there – that takes courage.
    I don’t know what happened to you, but I’m so sorry it did. However, it sounds like you handled the situation with maturity, grace, and class. Good for you. I sincerely hope everything worked out alright in the end.

    Also, “You teach people how to treat you.” Yes, so much truth in that statement.

    Glad you’re able to get away to China – that sounds so fun! 🙂


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