Here's How Hating My Job Is Bettering The World
A strange story about how crying over Excel helped me find meaning.
This probably wasn't the type of feel-good article you were expecting to read.
I'm sorry. If you wanted to read about somebody working in an animal rescue centre and how rehoming those furry critters makes them feel eternal gratitude for the love and care which exists in the world, this article really isn't for you.
But since you're here... Let's dive in.
You see, I've spent approximately 229 days in a job that I don't like, and as data from the pandemic and even prior data has shown, I'm really not alone there. Want a quick statistic to corroborate my point?
In 2019, Gallup conducted a workplace survey and found that 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. Read that again and begin to picture it...
In your Zoom call of ten participants, half of them will be disengaged and unhappy. If that doesn't feel relevant enough to you, think about your friends and loved ones. Take all of them who are currently in employment and divide that number in half. That's the approximate number of people you know, love, and care about that are miserable. If that doesn't make your heart sink a bit, I don't know what will.
But then, you may ask, how I could be so spoiled? There are so many people out there struggling to find a job and here I am complaining about my 9-5.
I totally understand how what I am saying can rub you the wrong way, I really do. See, they actually often run me the wrong way and these uncomfortable, shame-inducing thoughts are ones that I've grappled with for all 229 days. I've wondered:
- "This is as good as I'm going to get."
Before I continue, I've got to ask... Do you recognise any of these thoughts within yourself? Do you quickly dispel them because they form a vicious cycle of maladaptive logic and justification for you to stay put in a place that drains you and makes you miserable?
If so, I really do want to dispel the notion that suffering is somehow valiant and a given, because the truth is, there will always be someone who has it worse than you. That's not to say you should be ignorant to the plights of others, but instead of feeling guilty about not liking your current situation, like I have, transform that into something that can be of service to others.
With that very long introduction out of the way... here is how hating my job is actually bettering the world.
1. Where we suffer is where we want to help
On the earlier point about suffering, I don't think that it's always without value. I do however think that suffering without meaning is misery.
There are so many things I've learned in this short space of time. Some of these things which I've learned during my self-proclaimed quarter-life crisis are things that I probably wouldn't have otherwise learned for a long time if I hadn't taken a job that I would soon come to realise wasn't right for me.
But back to the point about suffering. Without being dramatic, I have spent a lot of my working life in 2021 in anguish and pain. I never knew how working a job I disliked could have such a tremendous impact on my health, quality of life and relationships. I also never knew that crying in between Microsoft Teams meetings was abnormal. I would simply turn my camera off for the next meeting and blame it on a "faulty laptop."
For most of my time, I internalised these feelings. I swallowed them and thought, "that's just life". I would circle round and round feeling stuck and miserable and whilst I would lament to friends and family, nothing really changed.
But then it dawned on me... I might not be feeling alone in this. This thought came to me after I finished reading the book "This is Going to Hurt" by Adam Kay. For context, the book is a series of journal entries about the gruelling reality of being a junior doctor in this NHS. It spoke of the horrors, the joys and the intimate thoughts and worries that befell this junior doctor. It's equal parts hilarious, tragic and insightful and I would absolutely recommend reading it if you haven't already.
Anyway, once the thought dawned on me, it became an internal mission to try and help where I have been hurt. Since then, I have written and even attempted to speak aloud of my experience. As a recent graduate, I feel that we are sold a dream that if we just wait until we graduate and land that first job, all will be rewarded and we will be happy. I feel that we are also sent mixed messages of:
"Do what makes you happy, but make sure that it fits along a certain career path, it's okay not to know what you want to do, but find a job that looks good on your CV, follow your passion, but make the big bucks."
Basically a load of juxtapositions and a whole lot of disillusionment.
Then it dawned on me that it's not just graduates who are fed all of the above, but society more generally. This created huge alarm bells in my mind, not only for myself, but for any single soul out there who feels even an ounce of what I have felt since entering the workforce.
All of these thoughts finally culminated (and will continue to culminate) into the second point below.
2. Voicing my experience on Vocal Media
I haven't written tons on here, but what I have learned from disliking my corporate job, I have tried to share with you in a way that is hopefully comforting and inspiring.
I don't claim to know everything on the subject matter of job dissatisfaction, but I do know how I have subjectively experienced this, and let me tell you - it hurts.
I was stuck for so long, waiting for every day to be over. I was stuck (and sometimes still am) crying when I was working back to back to back on random tax projects and realising that none of my colleagues knew a single thing was wrong except for the fact I took slightly longer to reply to an email.
Somewhere along the line, I started to give up on myself. I started to think that my hopes and dreams outside my corporate job were too lofty, or that they couldn't happen right now, or that they couldn't happen to me.
But then, one day in the summer, I decided to take a chance on myself and voice my experience. I decided to do the absolute antithesis of what my day job required (technical, legislation driven emails and Excel) and do something that felt aligned with me. So, I wrote. I wrote from my heart in every single one of the articles I have since published on Vocal Media and I have felt damn proud of every single one.
Not just because two of them were featured on 'Top Stories', but because of your (the readers) engagement with it. I saw the view count tick up and it wasn't even that which filled my heart with tears of pride, but it was the hearts and it was that one person who commented on Vocal Media's Facebook page that my article was "powerful stuff".
You may call that validation seeking, but it was really quite a humbling experience instead. Every single read, like and interaction with my articles meant that someone out there in the big world took the time to read what I had written and the engagement with the content suggests that it resonated with them in some way. It suggests that, out there, there is someone or many someones who actually feel the same way I do.
It inspires a sense of togetherness and combined unity in our mutual struggle. So, while my day job filling out tax returns doesn't impact the world hugely, I would like to think that my experience of it, and attempts to help where I have been hurt, do positively impact the world.
Thank you for reading and thank you to every single one of you who has read my content so far. Truly, thank you. It's because of you that I feel inspired and motivated to keep going on my journey even where I have internally wanted to give up so many times.
I know I'm not curing cancer, or rehoming orphans, but it is genuinely and truly my hope that all of the unhappiness and confusion I have felt over this past year may of service to you readers. To try and bring hope where there is misery, to try and bring a solution to an endless Rubix cube, and mostly, just to provide some comfort that you are not alone.
Through it all, I'm very grateful for having the privilege to communicate to you all on this topic. Therefore, I'm actually very grateful for the situation I find myself in now. I would take the tears, anxiety, anguish all over again if it meant that I could say to you what I'm saying now.
If you also wanted a read of some of my prior articles, please visit the below links where you can read to your heart's content.
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