I sat here looking at a blank screen wondering how to express my feelings about loyalty. Its one of my strongest traits being a very passionately loyal and honest person. Its also one of my biggest weaknesses because it opens me up a world of hurt and disappointment when that loyalty isn’t returned.
So this post isn’t going to be nice. It isn’t going to be reflective of my bubbly, outgoing personality. Its going to be raw and its going to be deep. Its going to be a post on an issue I’ve been struggling with for most of my life.
I decided to write about how loyalty has gone missing. How in this day and age of technology, people and companies have thrown loyalty out the window. Loyalty only seems to exist if it beneficial…not because its right.
The business world can be very rewarding, but it can also be vicious. If there is anything I’ve learned in my 20 plus years of working, its that most people have no problem throwing others under the bus to save their own skin. Instead of owning up to their mistakes, they will do anything to not accept responsibility. Loyalty to your coworkers only goes so far. I’ve been a victim of this. I’ve been betrayed by coworkers I thought I could trust because they couldn’t own up to their bad decisions. I was once fired because the owner of the company couldn’t admit he had hired too fast and they had to get rid of my position along with a few others. I had only been there for 6 weeks. He recruited me out of a job I’d had for 4 years with a bunch of promises. But when I got fired, they blamed me. They said I was too “social”. They hired me for account management and sales! Of course I’m going to be social. So their loyalty to me only went so far and they didn’t even have the honesty to tell me the truth. I left a company I’d been super loyal to and who had been loyal to me only because I couldn’t continue driving the amount of miles the position required due to medical issues (my neck). I can’t beging to tell you how many stories I’ve heard about the company that fired me. I’m sorry several of my coworkers went through what I did, but I’m glad to know I wasn’t the reason I lost my job. The reason was because of bad decisions and people not taking responsibility for them. I was also laid off from another company I’d worked at for 4 years because the economy turned sour. Suddenly, I became a number and all the loyalty I’d shown this company during the good times didn’t matter. I’d been recruited many other times for better pay and better benefits but stuck with my company because I assumed they’d show me loyalty in return. Suddenly being loyal to a company seemed more like a hindrance. Gone are the days where you get rewarded for loyalty. Oh sure, companies provide an extra week of vacation the longer you stay, but is that really enough to keep you loyal? They don’t even provide decent raises anymore. What good is a 2% raise when the cost of living is going up by 5-10%. Pensions are gone and its not even common for a company to match 401Ks anymore. Loyalty is truly a thing of the past.
It was a hard lesson to learn.
Now, through those lessons, I’ve learned I need to watch out for me. I need to have my resume polished and ready simply because I never know when my job will be cut. I can have all the praise in the world, but if I’m not part of the bottom line…I’ll be the first to go. I’ve learned that bad business decisions by high levels will cost you a job.
With friendship and relationships, its a bit harder. While business is business (an excuse I’ve come to hate), friendship and relationships are more complex. When loyalty is destroyed by a friend or significant other, its completely personal. I spent many years wondering why friends betrayed me and treated me so badly when I was so loyal. It wasn’t until my early 30s, I learned to keep friends more at an acquaintance level than a good friend. If I didn’t make everyone a good friend, then I didn’t have to worry about being disappointed. I learned to relax and not take things so personally.
I learned to be less loyal.
I could flake out without feeling guilty, I could disappear into my shell and not worry about hurting feelings, and I could continuously make new friends and not feel so hurt and betrayed when they didn’t follow through on their word. There are several types of friends you can have, you just have to know which category they fit. My close friends will always have my complete loyalty. I just don’t have many close friends now but I have A LOT of wonderful, fun, awesome acquaintances.
Relationships are even more complex. I’ve been really hurt, especially recently, yet my loyalty doesn’t just go away overnight. Its ingrained in my DNA and walking away from someone, even if he’s hurt me, seems almost impossible. But like with friendships and employment, I have learned to take only so much. Eventually, that loyalty will get severed and I will have to cut that person completely out of my life. But not because I want to, but because I’m being forced to and it still hurts and I’m still always puzzled as to why someone would intentionally want to hurt me. I guess if I’ve been loyal to someone, I can never hurt that person no matter how much they push me away. I’m like a sad, pathetic puppy that way, I suppose.
Even as I grow and gain life experience, having my loyalty taken for granted still throws me. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it. Whether its my company, my friends, or my boyfriend, giving that part of myself–to trust, open up and even LOVE, only to be treated badly will never be something I’ll expect or accept. I still hope someday my loyalty and honesty will be taken seriously.