It’s not ‘just work’
There’s something about seeing another dead boring LinkedIn update from your old company that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. Every day since I left my last job I am fucking ecstatic not to be there any more. I am not a naturally carefree person. I always have lots of care. I am care-full and careful. The only time I really unwind is in my structured relaxing time. So to say I'm floating on a cloud is pretty significant.
I haven’t had the best track record with jobs. My first ‘proper’ job turned out to be with a company that ran on morals that were very different to my own. I knew this from the start, but I ignored the red flags because I just wanted a job after lots of rejection emails. It turned out to be much worse than I thought, and let’s just say I keep my eye on the news because someone in that business would be eligible for a jail sentence.
When you’re in a job like that, you will basically take anything to get out. I took the first thing that came up, and I won’t lie and say it was horrible. It just wasn’t exactly what I wanted. But it was better than what I was leaving. I left behind a chaotic work environment for something more calm, and frankly a little boring. But the job was basically everything it said it would be, and I got a lot of perks I was looking for. Things changed when COVID hit, and let’s just say there was nothing boring about it after March 2020.
It became a toxic workplace full of misdirected blame throwing, massive restructures, and redundancies. I longed for the boring days. The changes turned what was a fine job into something that infiltrated my every day. By Friday evening I was always exhausted but also elated to be finally free. I started experiencing the Sunday scaries, and any day I went to the office I couldn’t do anything more than lay on the couch upon arrival home.
I was speaking to someone a few weeks back. A real adult. As in she has been working for decades. Her company was transitioning back to the office after a few months of working from home. “That’s a shame,” I said, always a fan of doing anything from the sanctity of my home. “It’s fine, it’s just work,” she replied. Those three little words are burned into my brain. It’s just work. She works a full-time office job and commutes at least one hour each way.
She’s always well-dressed and made up for work. That’s at least eight hours of work, two hours commute, and probably 90 minutes of getting ready. 11.5 hours each day. Almost half the day. 57.5 hours per week. 2 760 hours per year, assuming she takes a full four weeks off. 115 full days each year. Almost a third of her year is spent on just work. And plenty of people work more and travel further than she does.
Some people love their job, I get that. But that’s not everyone. It’s probably not even most people. And when your work environment is toxic, stressful, or even just a bit shit, that's a huge amount of time to spend in it, and that’s not even adding in the hours you spend laying in bed at night feeling worried about what’s going to happen the next day, or analysing how you reacted (or didn’t react) to something that happened earlier in the week.
I feel a little bad saying this again, particularly because there are people out there who are unemployed, who are applying for jobs every day, and who are stuck in a shitty workplace with no light at the end of the tunnel. But since leaving my last job I am bordering on carefree. I’m not fully there because I’m a pretty tightly wound individual with a Type A personality. But I’m pretty bloody close.
I say this with trepidation, but I think I like my current job!? 2020 truly has been full of surprises. The environment is collaborative and I’m given plenty of autonomy. Things aren’t always URGENT because management is prepared and they plan ahead. I don’t really spend much time thinking about my job now. Not outside work hours. I don’t give them mental energy unless I’m getting paid. And honestly, that’s probably the best I could hope for as a Millennial snowflake who just needs something to pay the bills.