March 2, 2009

Real Jobs Are Overrated

I've been taking an online French class this quarter, and naturally I have spent next to no time on campus since December. I drove up today to take a quiz for the class and to take care of some other random things. From my walk through the parking lot up to my building to my walk down the hallway of the English department before making the drive home, I kept running into familiar faces. Happy faces. Faces of people who were thrilled to see me.

I had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of people, and in talking with them, I realized the really strong connections I have to my school. I never was the type to hang out on campus a lot; I just went to class and left when I was done. But I made some friends, for sure.

On the drive home, I thought about choices. Choices and mistakes. When I enrolled in my program back in 2005, I was a bright-eyed 26-year-old ready to take the academic world by storm. In addition to attending and acing all my classes, I would present at conferences and send my papers out for publication. I would work in the writing center and be an advisor to undergraduates. I would take Latin and write a brilliant thesis and graduate with a perfect 4.0.

As it happens, none of these things have come to pass. Life has derailed me in a big way. Sometime between the start of my program and now, Roy and I moved in together and got engaged. My car got stolen and I got burned out after working at Chili's for six years. I got a new job and we got married. Roy wrecked his car and we got a new one and Roy graduated and got a new job and then we got pregnant.

So I've been a bit busy with all this life stuff. Busy with trying to make enough money to make ends meet. Busy trying to build up my resume so that there's more than food-serving experience and poetry publications on it. Busy being married and pregnant. Just plain busy.

Life is truly exhausting.

But nothing exhausts me more than my job. I have become acutely aware of just how tired I am in the last few weeks. It has never been an ideal situation. I have never been a good fit in my department. I have never really enjoyed the work that I do. All of these things I have been willing to overlook, because I have always known that this job is not the end of the line for me. I've always had hope for better things. I've always told myself that this job is something I've needed because it has given me something to put on my resume and it has given us some awesome benefits and I have a 401K and so on and so forth.

The truth is I hate my job all the way to the very core of my being. Hate it.

I hate sitting at a desk day after day.
I hate that the nosy admin across the hall watches me like a hawk.
I hate that as a result, I always am watching my back and anticipating the next attack.
I hate that I hate Mondays.
I hate that I look forward to the weekends so much.
I hate that my back hurts every day and I am in danger of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
I hate that I am educated, bright, and talented, and yet it means absolutely nothing to these people.
I hate that I work for an embarrassingly low rate of pay.
I hate that I feel this quiet anger building inside me. On bad days, it feels startlingly similar to rage.

Most of all, I hate that I was able to convince myself that taking this job was the best thing for us, for me. I don't believe in regrets, but right now I absolutely regret leaving my stupid blue-collar job waiting tables at probably one of the most ghetto-fabulous Chili's in Southern California for my current white-collar, respectable job with a respected company. I regret thinking that having an office job was the answer to all our problems. I regret sacrificing my education and everything else that I wanted to do for this job, for money, for something to put on my resume.

I regret selling out.

I regret that I haven't done more to make my dreams a reality and that it really is no one's fault but my own.

Tonight I am really feeling the pain that comes from being unfulfilled. I have a rich life outside of work, and of course I have a very active internal life, but nothing can change the fact that I am sitting in a cage day after day wasting my time. I do what I can to make things more bearable, of course, and for the most part, it works. I have had many attitude adjustments that have lasted for months, and that is largely what has pulled me through: knowing that it can be so much worse. (Today is obviously not an attitude adjustment day.)

In this economy, I am well aware of how lucky I am to even have a job. But there comes a point when you have to ask yourself, "When does it stop being worth it?" And this is a question that has come up more and more for me lately. I don't have an answer for it. I don't want to know the answer for it.

All I know is that I'm waiting. I'm passing the time. And the time is hard. Very hard.

But in the end, it just might be worth it. That's a big maybe, though.

(Thanks for listening; sorry for the negativity. I do feel better now.)


Anonymous said...

wow. i can totally relate. that list of things that you hate? i hate the very same things. i was just going to write a post exactly like this one. you're not alone!

i hope it is worth it in the end, too.

Leslie said...

bookmill - It's always nice to learn when you're not alone. But still, I'm sorry you have these same kinds of issues with your job. We should all love what we do. It should be a requirement.

inflammatory writ said...

I hear you. I hate my job. I hate it everyday. I resent the fuck out of it. But you know what? We have to work. We have to make a living. We have to support our dreams with money. And until we hit the Lotto or become a girlfriend at the Playboy Mansion, that's our lot in life.

If it's any consolation - I think most people hate their jobs.

phairhead said...

I thought I was fulfilling my life long dream of working in the HIV community. It's rewarding working w/ clients, making connections w/ other providers and making a difference. HOWEVER, all the petty bullshit has caught up w/ me. I am so in synch w/ yr "I hate" list.

Yr gonna come out of this a better woman : )

Leslie said...

Kari - Yeah, we do have to work. But does it have to be so Does it have to suck so much?

I know most people hate their jobs, and that actually makes me more sad knowing that there are so many unfulfilled people out there. Or maybe they have learned to deal with it in a way I haven't yet.

Leslie said...

phairhead - Ahhh, that petty bullshit. It seems to pervade everything that's meaningful. Still, I think it's great that you're working to make a difference; I hope that you're able to keep it up instead of burning out (assuming you haven't already burned out, that is).

Erika said...

WOW....sounds like SOMEONE has the case of the mondays....:D

No, but seriously....

I totally feel you man.....It sucks being an adult sometimes, working at a job you hate, not getting paid enough.

I only put up with my BS part time because right now, it's hard getting a full time job now with SOOOO much competition out there. you have WAYYY more going for you then I do, I mean I have worked as a preschool teacher, a nurse assistant, and now an office manager.....jack of all trades master of none you know.....

What happened to the days when all you had to do was homework and not hold down a job??

Sometimes I just want to relive hose days just for maybe a day or so.....just so i can recharge my batteries and stuff.

wouldn't it be cool if he had a hollow deck like in Start Trek??

That would be bitchin!!

Just hang in there.....everything will be ok....:D

JennB said...

I love your list of "I hates" I have one very similar. I'm with Erika, I've had so many different jobs, Jill of all trades, but mastering none. A friend of mine (yours too I think) put it in a bit of perspective for me by saying it's a means to an end but by means an end. There are days that I repeat that to myself as a mantra. You can borrow it if you want. I hear it gets better. When it does for you, let me know

Leslie said...

Erika - I do long for simpler times. When I worked at Chili's, I really did have the luxury of time. I wasn't so stressed out. It didn't feel like it then, but looking back, I can clearly see how easier things were.

Jenn - Thanks for the mantra; I will definitely be borrowing it.

Angie Eats Peace said...

You are totally not a sell out. In the end, I am sure you will find something that you have gained from it all.

Leslie said...

Thanks, Angeloony! I think you're right. Sometimes one just has to dwell in negativity for a bit, you know?

amber said...



tiger said...