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I Asked for Over a $1 Raise and Here’s What I’ve Learned from that Experience

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Siena chapter.

A few months ago, I was passed up on a raise at work, and it angered me because the management always (and still does!) tell me how great of a job I’m doing. So I sat down with my GM and asked for a raise, a big one. I asked for the $1.05 I lost when I transferred from Ohio to New York.

At my job, you can transfer from corporate store to corporate store, and you’re supposed to keep your wage. However, because Ohio and New York have vastly different living costs, my case was special. I went from getting a $1.05 over starting pay to getting starting pay, and no one ever talked to me about it, and I never knew until it was too late that I was making starting pay with two years of experience at the company under my belt. I never said anything, because every time I transferred back to New York, I got a raise. Granted, it was a minimum wage increase, but it was a raise nonetheless. I wasn’t hurting for cash, and I wasn’t spending more than my paycheck, so I let it go. That was until I got passed up on that raise, and people I knew around me who did a lot less than me got one over me.

In the end, I met with the District Manager, and I didn’t get the raise. Not even a cent. But I didn’t come away from that negative experience empty handed. In fact, I learned so much about myself and my strength as a woman.

Here’s what I learned from not getting that raise.

Patrick Spongebob Money

Men Really Don’t Understand the Difference Between Being Aggressive and Being Assertive

Oh, boy! Was I belittled and talked down to during the WHOLE conversation with the District Manager. At one point, he told me I was “aggressive,” and continued to practically spit in my face at least 10 more times! When I look back at this conversation, I can still see how high he got off of it, of telling me I was being aggressive because I emailed him a long email, because I asked for accountability from my GM, and I asked for proof that this conversation was initiated and NOT twisted from one man to another, AND for asking for what I KNEW I deserved.

When I opened my mouth to rightfully correct him from using the wrong term, his response was “It’s not like that’s a bad thing!” Oh really, then why are you acting like it is?

As women, we are looked down at for asking for what we want and what we DESERVE! The wage gap is real, and it won’t close until us women start fighting for ourselves! Don’t wait for a man to fix your problems, fix them yourself!

I sat in that chair, with tears running down my face, being assertive to a man of power for the first time in my life. I learned that day that I was POWERFUL, and CAPABLE, and STRONG enough to sit in front of a sexist man and say, “No, I was bold, but there’s nothing wrong with that. No, I deserve THAT raise. No, I am not being aggressive, I’m being ASSERTIVE. I’m advocating for myself.”

I learned that I was so much stronger than I thought I was. I could ask for what I wanted, I could advocate for myself, and I could demand the respect I deserved. We’ll work on enforcing it, but I wasn’t afraid to call that man out on his bullshit. He didn’t talk to the male manager sitting there like that, where did he think he could talk to a 21 year old woman like that? We’re adults, act like it, men.

Tears Do Not Make You Weak

I read somewhere that women’s frustration usually comes out in the form of tears. And for me, that’s very true.

We’re not crying to cry, we’re crying we’re were so frustrated that you aren’t listening to us. We’re crying because you’re interrupting us, but when we do it to you, you’re yelling at us about it. We’re crying, because even though we have a spot at the table, you won’t let us speak our truth, instead we have to listen to your lies.

I learned that the only time a sexist man in power will ever show you sympathy when you start crying. For a split second, that “Oh no! I made her cry!” looks passes over their face, and they’re forced to face the fact that they are the ones in the wrong. That their behavior has become unprofessional. It might last the two seconds it takes for them to grab napkins for you to wipe your nose, but if it makes them think for one moment that they might being doing something wrong in the situation too, let it happen.

There’s nothing wrong with crying. Emotions are only human, and you are ENTITLED to feel, express, and show your emotions. Don’t let men make you feel bad about your tears, let your tears empower you. In the long run, at least you’ll have better mental health than that the red faced man across from you.

You ARE a Boss Bitch

That man got high off belittling me, and treating me like a little girl when I was a grown woman. But you want to know what I got high off of? Empowerment. Did I cry? Yes. Did I get anger? Yes? Did I asked for what I knew I deserved? Yes. Did I anger a man and because I had the balls to stand up for myself and defend myself? Hell yes! Did I scream and cry in the back? Yes. Did I drive home balling to my mom on the phone? Yes.

But my mom reminded that women don’t ask for what they want, because of men like that District Manager, but I did. I’m sure she thought I did some things wrong as I accounted the whole experience to her, but she still supported me through it, she still congratulated me for asking for what I wanted. Most people didn’t believe I’d actually do it, well I did. And I’m GLAD I did.

Karma’s a Bitch

Guess who got fired shortly after that conversation? I’ll give you a hint? It wasn’t me.

Now, I’m not saying I was the cause of him being let go by the company, but a girl can dream, right?

Things always fall into place, I got a 65 cent raise when I returned in January, and he got what was coming for him.

Keep your head up, ladies!

Be Thankful for the Men that DO Appreciate You

To that male manager who sat at the table with me, you’re a real one! You’ll never know how much I appreciated you pulling me aside before I left to tell me how much you personally appreciated my work, and that if I wanted some time off that you’d give it to me. You made a point of telling me that you’d personally work with me and my schedule, and that you too were mad about him calling me aggressive. Even though I wish you would have said something to him, I’m still extremely grateful that you at least said something to me. You said everything I wanted that District Manager to say, and more! And I’ll always appreciate it!

As women, we get to do the dirty work ourselves. If you know you deserve that raise, don’t be afraid to ask for it! You should be compensated financially for your hard work, skill set, and assets! If you know people around you are getting more than you for the same work, speak up!

Empower yourself! Know your worth! And always kick ass!

Alyssa Guzman is a Siena College Class of 2021 alumna. During her time at Siena, she Double Majored in English and Communications Journalism with a minor in Writing and Communications.