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“Work is not about fun; it’s about work! It’s about seeing how much crap you can take from the boss man! And then…takin’ some more! If it wasn’t work, they’d call it ‘Super wonderful crazy fun time,’ or ‘Skippedy-do!'”
The profound words of Red Forman couldn’t be more spot on. Even your dream job will eventually become work, and there’s a special sort of selfish misery that comes with waking up and dreading the work day. It’s normal to come home and rant about work to a few choice people, but there is a big difference between letting off some steam and sobbing while punching a wall. We all know that work is going to be work, and that in this economy we should thanking our God every day for being able to have a steady source of income. After awhile we start to wonder if we’re being too dramatic, or if we just need to grow up and get over it. We’ve all been there, and I feel like many people in our generation are wondering if it’s okay to feel this miserable about their 9-5s.
I’ve had few different jobs, and I’ve left some on good terms and I’ve left some with bitter feelings. I’m lucky enough to have a job I enjoy and work with people I get along with, but I still find myself consoling some of my friends and loved ones after a particularly nasty day at work. To be fair I’m just some 20 something blogger trying to navigate the professional working world one position at a time, but between my own experience and the experiences of friends and acquaintances, I’ve learned a little bit about what makes a job truly unbearable. If you’re agonizing over whether you should stay the course or leave, these reasons may make you want to read over your resume.
There is something illegal happening
Many of us have had those sketchy jobs where you feel like you’re in some sort of gray area, and working a job that you feel morally conflicted over is mentally draining. We’d all like to support ourselves off of good intentions and unicorn farts, but in today’s economy unicorn farts have a terrible economic value. Let’s face it, there is a huge difference between thinking that your products/services are crappy and laundering money to finance your boss’ gambling and 8 ball habit. If your conscience is heavy after a day of work you need to look for other jobs. If your shirt is stained with dried blood and coke residue after a day of work you need to quit.
Your have so many extra responsibilities that you can’t focus on your main job
We’ve all had those bosses and managers that love to make you do other people’s work (and sometimes their own work), and constantly cleaning up your boss’ messes while having the same pay is awful. For a little while after college I worked at a very small publication where it was basically just me, my boss, and a few others that worked remotely doing printing and sales. I basically did everything that involved a computer and words, and after awhile it was so much to handle I could barely focus on the writing and editing I was hired to do. I left each day feeling more and more overwhelmed, and it felt like it was impossible to get ahead at work even though I spent the day busting my ass. After awhile you’re going to burn out, so it’s best to get out before you start to smolder.
Your boss relies on your for non-work related issues
Remember how I said I was doing a lot at that one job? After awhile I found myself playing the role of a counselor. At first I didn’t mind. My boss was a very hard working person and had a lot of issues she had to handle, so who cares if I spent some time writing a few e-mails to her lawyers about her child support and health care? Things were tough, so I understand that sometime you need to vent about family fights and ungrateful grown children. Soon I was literally seeing my boss tear up over selfish ex lovers, family and money problems, and a crapload of other things I shouldn’t have even known about. I remember complaining to my boyfriend
one night (for about the millionth time) about the over-sharing at work, and after awhile he just exasperatedly said:
“I get it, she has a lot of problems and personal issues. But doesn’t she have any friends to talk to? You’re supposed to be her employee, not her fucking therapist.”
For a moment I wanted to scold him for being so cruel, then it dawned on me. He was absolutely right. What was happening was sad, but I wasn’t there to be her emotional support and confidant. If you feel like hearing another anecdote about your boss’ personal life will make you want to rip off your flesh, you may want to consider looking for employment elsewhere.
You’re the office joke
I think that the best way to explain this point is to share a story I know of. I had a friend of a friend that started a job at a prestigious marketing company where he loved all of his co-workers. He said that he loved the lighthearted atmosphere, and the fact that his co-workers loved to have a good joke. First he started talking about practical jokes the other members played on him when he started so that he could feel like he was one of the group. Then some of his co-workers would invite him out to happy hour and buy him drinks until he could barely see straight. Soon he was telling me tales about this guy from sales who would hilariously imitate everything my friend did with a mocking and vaguely feminine voice.
He eventually earned the affectionate office nicknames of “numb nuts” and “shit breath” (your parents lied to you when they said that people in offices will always act serious and professional), and when I protested he said that I just didn’t get their humor. When I bumped into him at a party after about a year of him being at the company he told me about his recent office incident. He tried to do a presentation, but he could barely get through it because nobody wanted to listen to him. Everyone just kept laughing and carrying on because good old shit breath thought he had a good idea about a new marketing strategy, and who wants to listen to shit breath? Eventually he admitted that maybe things had gone a bit too far, and he got out of there as soon as he could. Let this be a lesson to you all: once you’re called shit breath at work you need to find a new job (and probably re-evaluate your life).
The thought of going to work makes you want to cry (and does)
A few years ago I was working two jobs during an extremely stressful period of time. My mom had cancer, my family needed more money, and I was working a job where I hadn’t gotten a steady paycheck in months. I needed extra money and I didn’t want to give up my writing job, so I decided to take a part time job so that I could actually sustain myself and help my family out.
One was the publication job, and the other was a front desk job at a gym where I had to be at work at 4:45am. For a while I thought I could do it. I juggled both for about 6 months, and all the while I grew more and more depressed and overwhelmed. I would spend the mornings exhausted while I tried to appease a nasty manager and humor middle aged and vaguely depressed men who were extremely curious about my race and SO relieved to talk to a smart woman (side note: if anyone ever tells you that you’re the exception to your usually awful race/gender/religion/sexual orientation, please proceed with caution or run away from them as fast as you can). After that I would spend the day trying to make things work at a failing publication while my boss would spend time complaining about everyone and everything that was making her life miserable, and misplacing and forgetting about her own duties.
One day I remember getting into my car, getting halfway to work, and pulling over to sob for about five minutes. I couldn’t do it. I was so tired. I was stressed. I was depressed. I was so unhappy. I felt like I was at my breaking point, and I knew I couldn’t keep doing it anymore. I immediately started aggressively looking for jobs, and I started to make excuses to my friends about why I suddenly decided to start looking for work. I was embarrassed that I got so emotional about a job, and I could imagine people thinking I was crazy for getting that upset. To my surprise, when I told them the truth about what happened, they looked me straight in the eye and started telling their own sobbing work break down stories. Hysterical sobbing fits seem to be a pretty universal sign you may need to quit (and should maybe speak to a therapist), so if you’re brought to tears thinking about work you need to make a change.
Your job has turned you into an addict
There’s something about the professional world that no professor, parent, or teacher wants to tell you about. Adults love booze. Adults love drugs. Mind altering substance use will not magically go away after you leave high school or college, and a lot of jobs will use alcohol as a way to close deals with clients and unwind after work. I have friends and acquaintances in a lot of fields, and I’ve heard some interesting stories. Railing lines at happy hour, doing shots on slow days at the office, taking a bump before heading out on the sales floor-all of these things may sound strange or extremely inappropriate to you, but I know they didn’t to the people who told me the stories.
The possibility of getting blitzed on the job and having it be okay seems awesome now, but it’ll catch up to you a lot quicker than you think. You can argue that a job can’t turn you into an addict, and I would agree with you. For some people with addictive personalities their rock bottom would have happened regardless of if they took their current job. But once substance abuse because normalized and a part of your work routine, it’ll be much harder to stop.