Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Favoritism: My Struggle & Triumph

A few years ago, I had a boss who made me his favorite employee immediately after my job interview. He must have seen his passion and his idealism in me. No matter what it was that caused me to find favor in his eyes, however, I made it a point to work doubly hard to keep him pleased with me. I admit that I was thrilled to enter that company because the big boss liked me from Day One. It did not take long for my reputation to grow. I was given special assignments and special treatment. The boss always had a big smile whenever I walked into the room, as if seeing a little child he was looking forward to mentor. Whenever he was abroad, I would be the one he would text for his instructions for the office. His excuse was that he knew I never parted with my cell phone, even when I went to the ladies’ room, so his messages were sure to reach his intended recipients on time if he texted me. Everybody else at that office simply thought that he did that because I was his favorite.

He was my mentor at that time. He would ask for my opinions on big projects and even though I was fresh out of school, he made me speak out my thoughts in front of the other bosses. He would invite me to his office and share his plans for the company and for our clients. He would make me take down notes so I would not forget his pearls of wisdom. I did not mind working late hours, skipping meals, and ignoring my friends just so I could produce the outputs that he asked of me. He told me that the day that I submit written work which would merit no correction from him, he would promote me immediately. I lived for that day.

Something tragic happened to me that caused me to stop working for a while. I resigned from that company. The secretaries told me later that the big boss sulked in his room for one whole day and was in a foul mood because of what happened to me. He called me up to say that I was welcome to come back anytime and even asked if I wanted to join him and his family in their Holy Week vacation. I was touched by the gesture but was in no mood to socialize because I was going through my personal hell at that time.

After some time, I felt I owed it to him and wanted to bring back the glorious days when I was considered brilliant, valued and important. I returned to the office a year and a half after I left. Little did I know that my reputation had preceded me. Employees who came in after I left heard about Ella, the boss’s favorite. They heard stories about how I was treated to a bacalao dinner; how I was asked to sing and play the piano at gatherings; how I was able to ask the big boss to donate more prizes for the Christmas party; and other anecdotes. I did not know that there were expectations of me and was totally unprepared for what I had to face.

I was no longer the favorite employee, actually, when I joined the company the second time around. After all, I did disappoint the boss by leaving and he had to channel his mentoring spirit to another associate. I did not mind that at all. After what I had gone through, I was only too happy to rebuild my self-confidence in what I thought was my comfort zone. I was pitted against the new favorite, however. There was an ongoing bet among the other associates as to who would turn out to be the real favorite. The other bosses seemed to want me to prove myself once again, if I really deserved the boss’s favor.

I was not up to the challenge. I was no longer as willing to lose sleep over deadlines. My heart started to yearn to serve in the courts of the Lord. I knew there was nothing bad or immoral in that office, but I was no longer the same and they – the bosses and co-workers- did not find what they were looking for in me. Even the big boss himself seemed to be displeased with me all the time. I nearly had a nervous breakdown every time my work was returned to me, because almost always, the pages would be unrecognizable what with all the handwritten corrections. I dreaded to read emails from him and my body would literally shake when he would call me to his office. I no longer felt his favor. I thought that employees should be treated fairly anyway, and for the first time actually resented the practice of favoritism. I never felt that in my family for my parents made each of us five children feel special.

After almost a year of trying, and failing, to find fulfillment in my job, I decided to make a bid for happiness and to resign once again from that office. It was a tearful decision, and when asked for my reason, I said I felt that I was not qualified for the job. The HR manager told me that I was still the boss’s favorite, but that time I was being trained so I had to take in all the criticism from him. I wanted to talk to the boss but during my last 30 days, he did not talk about my leaving. He just acted as if he did not care, and so I thought he did not. C’est l’ avie, I said to myself, and tucked away that memory for future healing. Even after two years I still could not look at that office building without tears welling up in my eyes.

The fact that I’m writing/blogging about it now means that I’ve taken one step in my process of healing in this area. I will always love and respect him, but I’ve been called to a different path than the one I promised to take under his mentoring. Recently, I saw a former officemate and her husband. She introduced me to him and said, “This is Ella, the boss's favorite”. Several years after I left that company, I was still considered as the most favored one in the company's history. I felt a twinge in my heart that grew into a heavy feeling. A few weeks after, I dreamt of my boss. In my dream, I was talking to him and explaining that I had to leave because God had called me to a full-time mission. That scene might never play in real life, but it showed me that I still missed talking to him about those things.

With this experience, I have grown to develop anti-favoritism. It does not build up the body –whether the family, community, or workplace. It promotes jealousy, competitiveness, insecurity, and depression.

Sometimes with my God, I am afraid to acknowledge His affirmations because I’m afraid to be called His favorite. This may be ridiculous but I swear it’s true! I forget that He is Divine, not human. He could make us all His favorites because He could bless one with talents, riches, and skills without depriving everyone else as He is that powerful!

I have to think that God’s love for each of us is unique so that I would be able to count my blessings. I live a blessed life. I am the Favored One. God gave me friends, who support both my decisions and indecisions; who see to my moral, financial and practical needs. He gave me very talented and intelligent parents who passed on their genes to their five children and two grandsons. He gave me license to practice a profession that could help change even a small part of this world. He gave me a community where my imperfect faith has moved mountains and where I am continuously amazed by His little and gigantic miracles. I am loved. I am blessed. No one can take this away from me.

I do not want to hurt anyone or to be misunderstood anymore. I know now what caused my heart to break in that office from ages ago and what made me break that boss's heart: I cannot serve two masters at the same time. I have found the pearl of great price. I am willing to sell and leave everything, to seek first His kingdom, to study His law in His courts. I am the Lord’s servant, be it done unto me according to His will.


mel said...

Alam ko yung Christmas party na yun... tumulong pa nga ako sa iyo magplano ng mga games.

Ella said...

Oo nga salamat sa mga gimmick mo para sa games. Hindi kasi ako nanunuod ng Pera o Bayong noon eh!