Today, I would like to offer a toast to those who hate their jobs.
When I posted my lunch picnic post to my personal Facebook, I captioned it with “In case you didn’t know, since leaving the worst job I ever had a year and a half ago (and no, I’m not talking about Tate Publishing–I literally found something worse), I no longer fantasize about driving my car into a retaining wall on my way to work. Oh, and I have picnics.”
That’s just your standard, everyday flippant Marisa. Not that I wasn’t fantasizing about that, because I totally was. I just think there’s something flippant about saying how unhappy you are with what is normal to most people. Commute to work. Sit at a desk. Do boring and brain-melting tasks. Eat terrible fast food for lunch. Watch your ass slowly spread and flatten to match the shape of your chair. Commute home.
After I posted it, I was kind of surprised by the reactions. Several people commented that they were currently looking for new jobs. A couple told me they had the same retaining wall fantasy. I’ve even had conversations in person with a few friends where we discussed how depressed some of our jobs have made us. It seemed the greater Oklahoma City area may be full of people who hate their jobs. And, unfortunately, I think this is the norm.
How many people hate their jobs? I’m not sure, but I think it’s important we discuss how unhappy people are with their jobs. Because when I was working for the company from Hell, I felt like I was surrounded by people who were happy with their professional life. Retrospectively, I realize that a lot of it was their defense mechanisms — like my complaining about a thing my company did made them realize their job was just as bad and they weren’t ready to admit that. I also think I just have a lot of friends that I can’t vent to. Not because they don’t listen, but because they try to make everything better immediately with a quick joke or a “Hey, look on the bright side!”
(I know I do this too. I’m trying to be better about it. Also, if you’re friend has gained 30 pounds in a 2-month span of time and is trying to tell you about how unhappy she is, don’t try to cheer her up. A simple “That really sucks, let me buy you a drink” will suffice.There’s too much to work through at that point, and cheering up isn’t gonna help anything.)
I also think the only people who talk about their jobs on social media are the ones who are happy with their jobs. Or, the ones who are trying to convince themselves that they should be happy with the job they have. And it’s a well known fact that people only post their highlights to social media. You never see someone post something like “Well, I got written up at work today because I’m not meeting my sales goals. I’m definitely not cut out for this position, and I’m scared I’ll be fired before I can find a position that pays comparably. I need help.” And if you did see that, it’s almost a guarantee that someone else would comment back some asshole remark followed up with “lol” because social media can be a really genuine place, but it can also be like walking through the asshole gauntlet.
This post isn’t about social media though. This post is a toast to those who hate their jobs. And I’m toasting you to say that you are not alone.
Recently, someone shared this Huffington Post piece on Facebook. I’m not sure who, because several of my friends have shared it since it was published back in January. If you don’t want to read it, it just details the reasons why good employees leave companies for different opportunities. I would like to add, though, that in the majority of places I’ve worked, those types of things are the norm. The corporate world isn’t anything you should put a whole lot of faith in.
I mentioned the “pick 3” approach to life’s priorities in March, and I think it will definitely help you be a more productive person. There’s a similar approach to jobs. Only, it’s the “pick 1” approach. Basically, think about all the things that you look for in a job. Good hours. Work you don’t have to take home. Being paid what you’re worth. Good benefits. Enough vacation time. The opportunity to use your skills. Flexible scheduling. Now pick one of those things. Because chances are your employer can only give you one of them.
(I currently have a few of them, and I have to say that I’ve never felt so spoiled by a job.)
I’m not saying the Holy Grail of employment isn’t out there. It most definitely is. But that company only has so many spots to fill, and chances are that you won’t get to fill one of them. So, if you happen to be looking for a job, keep that in mind. There are no ideal jobs out there, only good enough jobs.
If all this sounds terribly jaded, maybe it’s because it is. But know that I worked for a company where the CEO literally fired 25 people during a staff meeting firing squad-style. Also, know that I have multiple degrees in creative fields. And while corporations generally say in the job description that they want someone who is creative, they pretty much never know how to treat a creative employee. (The answer is not chaining them to a desk in a crowded office full of distractions where they can’t make good work.)
Basically, if you’re a human being, I don’t think you’re cut out for the corporate world. And that’s why I want to offer up this toast to those who hate their jobs. You are not alone. In fact, I’d say you are the suffering majority.
I can’t help you find a new job. (Especially not in Oklahoma. I would argue this place is a dearth of opportunities wrapped in the false promise of a low cost of living, but that’s a post for another day.) I can, however, offer up some commiseration.
I worked for Hell Company for 23 whole months before I left. Before that, I was working for Crap Inc. And prior to that, I was working for that trigger-happy CEO I mentioned above. Obviously, I’ve worked for a lot of not so fantastic places. But I don’t think I’d take those experiences away, simply because they’ve given me the sort of insight you can’t have when you’re just starting out in the job world. Maybe it’s kind of good for people to hate their jobs every now and again.
Now, when I step into a job interview, I know exactly what I want from an employer. I know what job feature is most important to me, and I know what I’m willing to give up when it comes to pay, benefits, schedule, and workload.
So what I’m trying to say is that you have to have those experiences to get where you’re going. I recently read this post from Alexandra Franzen, and it definitely reinforced this notion for me. (To be fair, my career journey has been nowhere as fun and sexy as hers. But grumpy frumping is pretty much on brand for me, so there’s that.) All of these terrible jobs and my cynical outlook towards corporations make me the person I am today. And that person is a college instructor who is focused more on self-improvement than on any sort of stat or metric that would earn me a raise in some fast-paced corporate environment.
And finally, that toast for those who hate their jobs.
Raise a glass if you’re unhappy with your career or feel stuck in a dead end job or are bored out of your mind doing menial tasks for idiot employers. Know that you aren’t alone, and that you have far more company than you know. Drink to where you are right now (but don’t self-medicate), because I can promise you there is always a better job out there.