Does the Shoe Really Fit?

After returning to her finance job in a well-respected company, post-maternity leave, Jane, a good friend of mine, found herself suddenly unofficially demoted by the guy who was her immediate boss.

Suddenly, the woman who was totally running things in her department, found herself being assigned tasks along the lines of filing, photocopying and cleaning up.  Not that there is anything wrong with any of this, but she was over qualified, and she was returning to a job that was legally held for her because you can’t fire a woman because she is procreating.  There was no explanation as why a year away meant that she was looking ahead to months of work reserved for someone just starting out.  She wanted to be at work, she wanted to be a team player, she wanted to be challenged and she wanted for her work to be meaningful.

She approached her boss and had an honest conversation about her concerns that she was being unofficially demoted.  He barely seemed to listen, and then he began mocking her, and indicated that it was his way, or no way.  She could have legally challenged him, but the financial world is a small one, and besides, maybe in some way he was doing her a favor.

If you don’t fit the shoe, then maybe you don’t have to keep forcing it on.  If we learned something from Cinderella, it’s that the Ugly Stepsisters can’t fit into the shoe long enough to fool anyone.  The shoe needs to fit or else you can’t walk on them.  It’s the same in any setting, felt probably most acutely in a work setting because you have to work or you don’t get paid.

Not that it matters of course, but my friend is more Cinderella than Ugly Stepsister, but that doesn’t mean that the Ugly Stepsisters have nothing to offer in the way of life lessons.  After all, just because someone is a jerk doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them.  In fact, it’s the big jerks who are sometimes so awful that they send us messages so loud and so clear that we are forced to take notice and make changes.

Jane was able to quit and go back to school to get her MBA.  She is very lucky in that she has a supportive husband who is also partly supporting, but that is a different fairy tale for a different day.

If the shoe doesn’t fit, try on another.  You never know, it might end up being a perfect fit.

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