I Hate Who I Am When I’m With You

I have an aversion to quitting.  Quitting just seems to be an easy way of getting out of a difficult situation.  This notion was probably instilled in me by my mother who would advise me when things got tough, “Oh Lisa, stop being such a baby. Think of this as a challenge.”  Mom was tough for sure!  Because of my upbringing, it has always been my belief that you will never fail unless you quit. As a result, I’ve probably stayed in certain situations for much longer than required. I assign adjectives such as ‘tenacity’, ‘persistence’, and ‘patience’ to any given matter that requires an extra boost of courage. I’d now like to revise this philosophy.

For the past five years or so, I worked very hard on a particular client relationship.  Dragonfly prides itself with cultivating relationships with its clientele and this client was generally pleasant enough.  I had respect for his experience and his work.  The client also could be very difficult.  Micro managing and projects coming in to my studio at the 11th hour were becoming a lifestyle.  The account was challenging on a monthly basis but clearly no reason to quit.

After four years or so, things became much more difficult.  I found myself all too frequently on the receiving end of verbal outbursts and fists slammed upon the table top.  I witnessed my design work crumbled up and thrown into the trash.  I worked through holidays, weekends, and late into the night because of some “graphic design emergency”.  I postponed vacations and often got phone calls at 7am.  Rarely did I hear a simple ‘thank you’ but my invoices were always paid on time.  Still not a reason to quit?

Over the past week, when desperately hoping to enjoy a Thanksgiving Holiday with my family… in came but yet another series of requests for work to prepare for Art Miami Basel in December.  Despite having spent several weeks already assisting this client in preparing his website and marketing materials… micromanaging was the name of the game and many revisions and additional requests for work were made.  The client was stressed and now so was I.  Unpleasant emails were exchanged several times a day.  As I sat at my desk that holiday weekend, miserable and sad, I began to draw what I titled “I Hate Who I Am When I Am With You.”  Now there was a reason to quit the account.  The whole situation was awful and despite the lies, the threats, the demands and the civil disobedience, it was sad.  Ending a relationship of any kind is emotional… it’s a divorce.

Monday morning I completed all work required, penned my resignation and my reasons for doing so. Relief flooded over me like a warm bath.  I’m sure my ex-client felt the same way as I don’t think people who are nasty are happy about their behavior.  During that same week, I received an invitation to join the AIGA CT Board.  I accepted. My long standing, non yelling clients came through my door with reasonable requests for work.  I made phone calls and reached out to old clients and possible new ones.  Positive things were replacing the negative.

I learned a valuable lesson.  Sometimes quitting is exactly what needs to be done.  Sometimes quitting allows us to move on in creative and exciting directions.  It makes room for new opportunities and allows us to look at life with fresh and rested eyes.  At this point, I am happy and thrilled about my future, my work and my clientele.  Never ever will I allow someone else make me hate who I am when I’m with them…and if you should find yourself in this type of situation, neither should you.  Go forth and plant positive seeds in the universe.

Have you had a similar experience?  How did you handle it?  Share your thoughts with a comment below.

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