A Brief History of Being Unhappy at Work
I was talking to someone who is in that “wanting to quit” phase of work and wanted to remember what it felt like so I did a search in my journal (YEP) from a few years back for the words “work” and “job.” What follows is a nice, horrifying portrait of someone on the edge of sanity who really needs to quit her job. May I never be this angry again! Or may I um, emotionally detach from work and just put my head down and do my work? That always sounds like the right idea.
Work was hell again today. Some of it was fun. Some of it was creative. I had some decent ideas. I had hopeful, uplifting, reasonable conversations with people I like and respect. Had bitching, hilarious conversations with people I love. Made jokes with people who drive me crazy. Complained about people who are bothering me. The drama of the workplace absolutely consumes me. It’s all I care about. Who is frustrated and why. Who wants to quit. Who is threatened by whom. Who feels territorial. Who is powerless. Who is wielding their power with too much brute force.
Had a few rages. A prolonged back and forth or two. Dustin told me to go get a snack and I did. And I did feel better. One Fudge Stripe, 1/4 of a cupcake and a handful of almonds later. :(
When did rage become such a dominant emotion in my life? I am always frustrated, enraged, cynical, afraid, worried. Everything is negative. Now I am panicked thinking about it.
On the way home I think about how horrible I feel about my life. About everything. That dreaded train ride. I am starting to feel (STARTING?) like staying at my job is the most advantageous thing for me but I can’t stand it another minute. Like I really “get” this company and feel loyal to the project of it but it’s eating away at me and turning me into a shell of a human being / a monster / a bad person / etc. I am “unbalanced.” I scream and scream in my head (solemnly) about how unhappy I am and then do nothing about it.
Well it’s Saturday morning and I am working on some last-minute shit. It’s been ridiculous but I know I did well with it, and to have T satisfied with it is a bit of a thrill.
I’ve felt pretty at sea with work but it is undeniably more fun to feel like I am a part of making new stuff. Working with designers feels right.
Things were weirdly good yesterday. Work was you know, annoying but not horribly annoying. I was in a strange mood. Not combative, just goofy. Work is/was weird.
I like my new desk — is it strange that that could do it? That could put me in a better mood? Maybe it’s being so close to the window, and not having X face my monitor all day. Either way it’s nice.
Well, work blew. I had to write a really dumb thing and it was so dumb it made me cry. I just sat there feeling so gross about having to do it, and staring at the page and hating myself. Rubbing my face, procrastinating. Hating everything and everyone.
Maybe soon I will admit to X that I am losing my mind not working on anything else creatively, and really resenting my job, and that I need a break.
I also need a vacation, obviously. Though god, time away might just make me want to never come back.
I got a drink with a girl tonight who interviewed with us for a job she didn’t get. She wanted to know how to “break in” to working in tech from the journalism/media world. She seems smart and nice and just nerdy enough. I liked her, though she was sort of clueless when it comes to the internet.
I told her to, in so many words, manufacture a narrative for herself and how she fits into whatever company she is applying to. Keep in mind the people who are hiring have no fucking clue what they are doing, and want to feel like it’s “fate” and be told about themselves, and be offered help. They want people who “get it.” So be the person who gets it, who has some history of caring about the company they can point to, and who isn’t afraid to tell the company what they need and how they will be the person to provide it.
Maybe I can get out, wiggle out, of my role and into something else for them. Something less fucking nightmarish and exhausting. Maybe I can learn something new. Maybe I can just do decision-making stuff. Maybe I can just manage people? Who the fuck knows.
Or maybe I can get the fuck out of here and take a fucking sabbatical and not kill myself.
Work. It was kind of nice today. Most of the company didn’t come into work, and we just got a lot done. Oh wait, no we didn’t. I sort of sat at my desk hanging out and joking around with M.
Work was pretty terrible today. Some days it’s just so bad, and I just can’t do it anymore. I want to give up. Or I do give up, temporarily. I stare at a screen and just think, “No. Fuck this.” And I try but I can just do nothing.
Today in my meeting with X we talked about how hard it was to push anything through, and how hard it was to establish consensus. And I said, “Uh, YEAH.” And felt like crying. And I looked at him and said, “Sometimes I just have to wonder, is it really supposed to be this hard?” He said, “No,” really quickly and with assurance. And I said, Yeah. I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know how it’s SUPPOSED to be, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be like this. And he said “Yeah I don’t know either, but…” And we just nodded. And I felt fucking hopeless.
Maybe I should go on some interviews. Maybe I should get drunk with X and tell him how I really feel. Maybe I should keep my head down and apply for new jobs. It’s so easy, culturally, to stay here. Though there are times I feel at sea. I like so many of my coworkers, and laugh so much with them, and so sincerely.
I just got home from work.
I JUST GOT HOME FROM WORK. AT 11PM.
There were moments where it was fun. It is nice to “sit at the table”. It makes me feel less threatened, less defensive. You see and remember that we are all just trying to figure it out.
I feel really zen about this right now, and/but I’m not sure how long I can hold onto that. I feel very, “it is what it is.”
We just watched a whole hell of a lot of West Wing and all I can think about is this line, the President says to Josh Lyman, “You know the difference between you and me is I want to be the guy and you want to be the guy the guy depends on.” And all I can think is, maybe that’s my problem at work. I don’t want to be the guy the guy depends on. I want to be the guy. I am such a brat.
Work: I got none done. But I was happy! I was happily avoiding work all day.
Me and R got coffee at 5 today and it was not a constructive coffee. We were back in the same place we were in four months ago, which is a really bleak thing to realize. All of our complaints were well-rehearsed. We can articulate all of it very clearly now. It’s simple. Un-mysterious. And sad.
After our dinner tonight i felt really convicted about leaving, or about taking a leave. Of course saying “I quit” would be amazing. The _____ meeting was hellish today. I am in burnout mode big time. Ugh it was untenable. And I have to get out of here.
Work is getting hilarious this morning. In that bleak way where all you can do is laugh. A and I are commiserating and replying to shitty emails with purple text and centered email replies and such. I feel like our only power here is to either leave or agitate everyone. I guess that is kind of bitter and shitty. But whatever.
I quit my job a month later!