Regaining self-esteem after a break up (with a job)

How my experience working with my team at DotModus has helped me grow.

a month ago   •   3 min read

By Angelique Tzanakakis

This isn’t the usual kind of blog I post here. In fact, it may be the most vulnerable I’ll ever be. Before I start, I’d like to stress that my only intention for this is to share how DotModus helped me recover from possibly the lowest point of my life.

I’m hoping that this reaches someone who needs to hear this. And to you, I say - no matter how many articles you read about how to deal with a toxic workplace/boss, you can’t control how other people behave and you are not responsible for their actions. It’s not you.

With that being said, let’s get started, folks...

There came a time in my life when I (finally) realised “holy shit, I cannot do this anymore. I’m done”. It started when I was suspicious of everyone I worked with, every single email, phone call, video call… even WhatsApp messages I received from colleagues. Every notification sound, work or not, triggered an emotional response. Sometimes anger but mostly fear.

However, the exact moment I realised I needed to get out was when, not only did I not trust anyone I worked with (except one amazing woman), I had stopped trusting myself.

While it was an open secret that we didn’t trust each other, after being called names and being berated for doing the things we were told to do, we would comfort each other in a weird way. It was a constant cycle of getting really upset, threatening to leave and then convincing each other that this was a normal and totally fine thing to accept (and subsequently staying).

Long story short, I left.

But I didn’t feel instantly better like I thought I would. I tried to not think about it but that didn’t work. I started to realise that it wasn’t just the constant bullying and gaslighting, it was the small things that happened daily.

I started remembering things that happened and going “huh, that’s not normal in any way”. Some of these memories were brought up when I saw how DotModus management reacted so… reasonably to small things that could probably be solved easily. Sounds ridiculous but I had genuinely forgotten how rational people behave.

Specifically, the first time I heard Tom (the CEO) take control of a situation, I was genuinely shocked at how quickly and respectfully he resolved it. There was no “with all due respect, I don’t want to hear it” after asking a question.

I started observing how everyone spoke to and about each other. They were nice? The culture was the literal opposite of the one I had previously experienced.

A few days after joining, Paddy, my new team leader, started giving me tasks to see where my strengths were. Almost immediately, he realised that I could write and that became my role. For some context: I was told by numerous professors and lecturers at university that I write really well and I believed it. Until I  didn’t. I questioned myself for no other reason than because of my previous toxic boss.

Initially, I was very sceptical of Paddy’s praise but I was just happy to be here. To be honest, I’m still suspicious of people who compliment my writing. But knowing that I’m in an environment where we’re all made to feel appreciated and that our efforts are valued is what is ultimately helping me regain my self-esteem and confidence.

As a side note, another thing that when I saw it happen for the first time, I didn’t really think anything of it, but then I started seeing it again and again and every time I see it, it makes me so glad that I joined:

A developer asked for assistance in the #random channel on Slack and Tom responded with an answer. Cool, the CEO of a software company has technical skills and is willing to help wherever he can, whatever, right? That’s probably not that unique. What was a unique experience for me was one day, he asked for help. A fairly new, young employee responded offering his help. Tom immediately accepted his request, got on a video call, introduced himself, the problem was solved and Tom expressed genuine appreciation for the help.

It was then that I fully understood that there are leaders like the ones at DotModus who care and are willing to ask for and accept help from anyone. The turning point.

That being said, simply leaving wasn’t enough for me. I can’t guarantee that’ll be the same for everyone. But one thing I know for certain is that if it wasn’t for the awesome people at DotModus showing me (and each other) so much respect and kindness, I would probably question my abilities way more than I still do. What didn’t kill me in fact didn’t make me stronger. It just led me to a great company with awesome people who create the most amazing things. And I do what I enjoy - I write about them!

To your success,

Angelique

Spread the word

Keep reading