I Took a Pay Cut to be Happy
A Bittersweet Win: One of Many Life Lessons
The first job I ever loved was the only job I applied to where I said to myself: "I really hope they don't call me." I was hired the summer after high school to make sub sandwiches, and clean dishes, starting out at about $7.50. With my performance being a smidgen below average, I was labeled as: quiet, slow, too nervous to speak to customers, and too shy to interact with coworkers; it wasn't until one of the girls that worked on morning shifts said: "Hey, I wanted to let you know I heard people saying if you don't step up a little bit, they're going to let you go." Then I really started applying myself in all the tasks I was given.
Eventually, after gaining loads of experience, the only night shift leader on our crew had quit; so, another girl and I were encouraged to take her place in exchange for a pay raise-which of course, we accepted. First, we were bumped to $8, then $9, and eventually (in a 2-year time span), we as shift leaders made $11-$12 an hour, with a guaranteed 40 hours. Between all the money I was making, and how comfortable I was with the job I was doing, the thought of working anywhere else never crossed my mind. I loved being a leader, I loved that I knew all the answers to ANY problem that occurred, and I loved that I could easily run our store in my sleep. Yet, it seemed like over the years, job growth also grew with tons of job drama.
We were mostly an all-girl crew, and naturally, everybody didn't ALWAYS get along; then things really changed for the worse when another girl and I dated for a while, and then broke up—leading to people choosing "sides," and the whole 9 yards that came with that. Our manager started enforcing rules such as: we weren't allowed to ask off, hangout with who we DID get along with, and it eventually felt like we weren't even allowed to laugh in the store anymore. I developed depression, anxiety, anger, and found myself being walked all over. Long story short, I decided I had to get away from it all; for weeks, I debated on the pros and cons of transferring stores from the one that was "down the road," to one "about 30 minutes away." My final decision (after already being told by the other manager that he'd hire me), made by my heart, was to try and stick it out; but after finding myself mentally incapable of working anymore, I quit before finishing one of my shifts—leaving all my drama behind.
Sadly, the new store I ended up transferring to didn't seem much better. With the only perk being that I didn't have to deal with any the negative people in my hometown; the mileage on my car (which is nowhere close to new) started taking a toll on its performance, and the far drive during our winter storms were nearly impossible. The people there had just as much drama among themselves as I used to; I was also suddenly surrounded by coworkers who did drugs, who weren't honest, and found myself shutting down to pilot mode—only working to work, avoiding the slightest chance to build a friendship, and forced to constantly watch drama shows. I knew I eventually was going to have to give up working for the company all together, and work back closer to home. $11.50 an hour didn't seem like a fair trade anymore for my comfort and happiness.
So, once again I put in applications everywhere possible like I once did fresh out of high school. I was offered a job at our local supermarket as a cashier/bagger—and gladly accepted. My happiness came with a whopping $3.50 pay cut, and the opportunity to start again from the bottom. As nervous as a freshman on the first day of high school, I walked into my first NEW day of work not knowing what I know now; which is:
- I should have left my comfort zone A LOT sooner, and just changed jobs if I was unhappy.
- That I would love the job I'm doing now, 100 times better.
- Money isn't worth anything in the end.
And lastly, that I would quickly work my way back up from the bottom, gaining more life experiences then I would have ever gained before. In conclusion, just do what makes you happy—it always works out better in the end.