We live in an uncertain time. And I know a lot of you might be worried about losing your job in the midst of all this chaos. So in some ways, this blog may not have the most appropriate timing.
But on the other hand, I know that there are hundreds—nope—THOUSANDS of you out there right now working from home and thinking about how much EASIER it is than being stuck in a gopher hole in the middle of a windowless expanse called an office. How much LIGHTER you feel without your boss popping in every five minutes to critique your work. How much HAPPIER you are typing away at a computer in your home office or at the kitchen table with your kids nearby watching Frozen II for the thirtythousandth time.
And I know that if I were still in this job I'm about to describe to you, I'd be in that same place right with you. Wondering why I stay. But feeling obligated because money.
I don't want that for you.
I want better for you.
So I'll share my story in the hopes that it inspires you this week.
You DESERVE better than to feel anxious, overworked, under appreciated, and unnoticed (unless you make a mistake, of course).
Which is why I've decided to share this story now. In the hopes that when the times does come for you to go back...maybe you'll also have a plan in place for how to get back to working from home permanently.
I got fired from a job I loathed.
Writing that makes me angry with myself all over again. Not only was I fired from a job I loathed. But also because I worked my ass off trying to keep the job I loathed because I knew I was going to get fired if I didn’t. And—here’s the real kicker—I knew I wasn’t a fit for this place within the first week of my being there. Yet the harder I worked, the more positive I tried to be, the more hours I put in...the more things fell apart.
Ever feel that way yourself?
Here are a few of the lies I told myself on a daily basis.
The crappy pay was fine. There were growth opportunities here! I could live on ramen post college! Yeah, I could totally do that again.
And it was no problem that the one talent I prided myself on was put under enormous pressure to be absolutely perfect. My art could be perfect. I could take four hours writing something that under any other circumstances would have taken me thirty minutes. I was growing. My writing was improving!
And how about that awesome time I heard my boss tear me down to a coworker when said boss thought I’d left the office for the day? I was actually sitting about fifteen feet away from the conversation. Hey, that was okay! My boss was accomplished in the field! I had a lot to learn, still! Damn it, I was going to make my boss like me. I’m a likeable person! And anyway, my boss didn’t NEED to like me. It’s not like s/he controlled my entire life at the moment, right?
And my friends didn’t mind when I had to miss our once-a-month date for the sixth time because...you know...deadlines. We’re all grown-ups with busy lives! We’d schedule another time. And I’d make it to the next one. I would.
And it was fine that my husband only ever got the worst of me for months. That every single time I walked through the front door—sometimes at five, sometimes at eight, sometimes at eleven—that I cried. Or complained. Or was exhausted. Or was desperate for emotional support and ego stroking. He knew it wasn’t going to last forever and he’s a strong guy.
Do you want to slap me as you’re reading that? Because. I want to slap myself while reading that. So hard. If I were my friend, we’d be sitting down to have a serious conversation that begins like this: MAKE YOUR EXIT PLAN IMMEDIATELY!
But I didn’t. I stayed. I made excuses. And I dreamed of something better, all the while thinking that I wasn’t good enough to get it. That I’d never make it happen.
If you’re still reading this, then you’re probably in that exact same place right now. Or you’ve been there in the past. Either way, I hope we’re sharing the same grim smile right now.
Now, listen up because this takeaway is incredibly important. Drop the job you hate.
But Allison. My job pays my bills/puts a roof over my head/puts gas in my car/allows me to travel two weeks a year while the other 351 days my soul dies a slow and painful death.
I hear you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing honest work well—even though you hate it—when it serves a greater purpose. However. There is something wrong with falling into a rut with your work. With staying because it’s comfortable. With showing up every day because it’s what you’ve always done. Because you're too afraid that there is nothing better.
What do you want to do?
We’ve talked about me a bit. So now let’s talk about you.
You started at the call center twenty-five years to get your kid through school. But they’re graduated and gone. And you’re still working there. Except now you tell yourself it’s for the benefits and the steady paycheck. You’re too old to start over.
You’re at the big corporate office working in finance/hr/development. Every time you step inside the main doors there’s a tiny voice screaming “Noooooooooo!” inside your head. But you shut her down, scan your ID with security, and shuffle over to your windowless cubicle. You tell yourself there are good growth opportunities here. That you were lucky to be chosen for this role. That it isn’t that bad.
Maybe you’re at the small start-up. And they lured you in with their “cool benefits” like a foosball table and casual Fridays and unlimited PTO—that you can never, ever take. But the hours are long, the pay is low, your coworkers are a bit pretentious, and damn it—you don’t even LIKE foosball. But you force yourself to stay. Because it’s not that stuffy office job you were offered. At least this place has windows.
Look. We all have our reasons for taking jobs we hate. And you likely have a list of “it’s not so bad” lies you tell yourself when said job threatens to crush your soul. I’m not saying you should email your boss this afternoon and tell her/him you quit. In fact, I discourage that. Especially in tough economic times. Unless you have a Plan B in place.
But what I am encouraging you to do? Is to stop lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself that it’s okay. That it’s not forever. That you’re just being a whiner. That you need this. That you can’t do better than this. That this is what life is like.
If I could reach through this blog right now and shake you by the shoulders, I would. The things you’re currently experiencing, the life you’re so desperate to change...it doesn’t need to be that way. It’s not supposed to be that way. But you’re the only one who can make that change, sister. Sometimes it’s after a big push from the universe. Like when you get fired. Ahem. But nonetheless.
If you hate your job, start making an exit plan. Don’t know what you want to do? Excellent! What a hell of a place to start! Blank canvas. Fork in the path. The open road! Are you feeling it? The flutter of excitement in your stomach? Because you can do anything. You can be anything. You can work anywhere. You are not a number in an office building. You are beautiful.
And before you go selling yourself short here is a short list of things that absolutely do not matter and cannot stop you from finding a career you love:
Your level of education.
Your current situation.
Your bank account.
The only thing stopping you from finding that career you love, from embracing that life you imagine?
You. Plain and simple.
Again, I understand this may not be the best environment for say—quitting. But that can't keep you from making plans. From acting on them. From starting to build something that is totally and completely your own.
You hear me?