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Unfortunately, upon completion of the National Geographic Educator certification I felt like I was howling into the wintery wind.

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I was apologizing to my boss for getting certified as a National Geographic Educator.

Though the words were coming from my normal voice, I felt drained. I had spent most of the prior evening being bombarded with wave after wave of emotions from the crests of accomplishment to the lows of disappointment.

I didn’t eat much or sleep well.

In my boss’s office, I sat in a puddle of exhaustion and disappointment.

I had just completed rigorous training to achieve a National Geographic Educator certification. But yet, here I sit, apologizing for it.


I had worked in a wide variety of jobs but this was one of the few places that had longstanding issues with management, well before I arrived.

It didn’t take me long to realize that my boss was threatened by my presence. I had a four-year degree, years of experience at high-end establishments like Yellowstone, and a professional certification to prove my nature nerdiness.

She did not.

Instead of embracing my skills, she quickly used her authority to control what she could. This turned into rejecting program ideas and forcing me to keep my computer unlocked and accessible to prying.

It was less than pleasant.


One area I felt safe pursuing was professional development in the form of a National Geographic Educator certification. My title was in fact – Educator. Yet, with all my experience in interpretation, I felt self-conscious about my lack of educator experience.

Instead of burying my discomfort, I dove into these feelings of uncertainty. I decided that being certified by National Geographic would give me the confidence I was searching for.

Perhaps, it would appease my boss since it would be a boon to our facility. Not every site can say their personnel are supported by National Geographic.


Nat Geo has rigorous standards.

A program had to be developed under their standards and a video had to be choreographed. Plus, there were essay responses that were expected upon completion.

It took me a while to learn the new standards, adapt it to a new program, and collect all the images. Plus, I had to learn how to make a video with a narrative.

Because it took longer than I expected, I was pleasantly surprised when I passed on the first try.

I did it! Look at me! All fancy with a certificate from Nat Geo!

Unfortunately, my bubbly excitement took a nosedive when I told my boss. Instead of being excited about the certification, she was very disappointed that I had pursued it at work.

Even though the entire process from program development to presentation was apart of my job. I even asked during my interview if professional development was encouraged.

Initially, it was.


That is how I ended up in my boss’s office apologizing for professional development.

After the swirl of emotions, I decided to apologize because I would still keep what mattered, which was my certificate, but I wanted to move away from the animosity. I desperately wanted to be happy about my accomplishment and get back to work.

I felt that I needed to dig deep and apologize for this. Truthfully, I avoided talking about this certification because there was a fear being rejected like many of my other suggestions. Plus, I felt the stirrings of resentment at being micromanaged. My hope was that I would feel better after I apologized.

I was wrong.

Instead, the fallout felt like I had confirmed her toxic feelings over my professional career. I had a chance to stand up for myself and instead I allowed myself to be bullied.

I choose the easy way; to pacify with an apology in hopes of a better future.

But the future wasn’t better.

Instead, it sped towards a nauseating realm of worse with daily meetings about each aspect of my shift. A few months later, I quit.

It has been a few years since that personal low. I still feel the stirrings of salty bitterness but more than anything, I feel grateful. Grateful to be so far from that toxic place and in my current job where I am actively encouraged to pursue professional growth and I am only limited by my motivation and time.

Besides, it’s hard to stay salty when I heard that my former boss got fired not too long after I left.

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  1. I’m a little confused, if your boss met with you daily, or even more often, then how could she possibly not known you were pursuing that cert? If she controlled your every movement then how could she not have known exactly what you were doing? Did you get prior approval to pursue this on company time? She sounds like an awful boss but it also seems like there was miscommunication.

    1. Fair point, I am going to adjust this post to clarify your questions. Thank you for sharing your managerial insight.

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