QUIT: Resenting My Job (And All Other Circumstances I Can’t Change)

[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end.  I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]


It’s no secret that I don’t love my job.  (Let’s be honest, how many people really do?)

That doesn’t mean I don’t show up every day (except Free Fridays, ha-HA!) and work my little tail off.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t many aspects of my job that I enjoy, or at least appreciate (good coworkers, a level of flexibility, a boss that treats me well).  As far as jobs go, it’s not a bad one, and as far as my currently needing a job goes, I’m thankful for it.

But it means nothing to me personally.  It eats up days and months of my life that I long to be using for so many other things.  It takes up my time, my energy, and thoroughly effs up my writing productivity by keeping all my best writing hours from me.  And the whole 9-5 structure goes against every fiber of my anti-establishment, fiercely independent nature.

So.  For all the thankfulness—and as Freakin’ Awesome an effort I try to give every day that I’m there—I resent the living daylights out of every minute I spend at my job, knowing all the while that I could (and should) be spending it elsewhere.

It’s not easy to admit what I’m about to say next (a revolutionary does not part easily with her righteous indignation), but I’m slowly beginning to realize that maybe this attitude isn’t the best way for a Cordelia to approach her circumstances, even the not-so-perfect ones.


Begrudgingly Accepted Truth #1:  Resentment Isn’t Action

I’ve written before about how frustrating it is to be working towards a new life but still have to show up every day for the old one.  Sometimes, having my blog to attend to and an ebook to write and Quits to work on makes the daily 9-5 a little easier to deal with.  Sometimes I find I can laugh off inconveniences and keep up a generally positive attitude because I know that I’m working towards my eventual escape.

But most days, it just plain sucks.  Most days I can’t help but think petulantly about what a waste it is and how unfair it seems and how somehow the Fates ought to be able to grant me an out because they must be able to see how badly I want this change.

This gets me absolutely nowhere.  But I do it anyway, because it feels therapeutic.  It makes me feel like I’m doing something to take a little control back from a situation I can’t escape:

You can ask me to make those copies, but damnit, I’m going to dislike every second of it…

I’ll deal with this crisis, sure, but I’ll be thinking the entire time that I’m meant for something much more important than this…

It’s my own childish, passive-aggressive attempt of flipping off the unavoidable by throwing a shitty attitude at it.  But it does nothing except to make me childish and petty.  It does nothing except turn the unavoidable into the thoroughly shitty.


Begrudgingly Accepted Truth #2:  Resentment Isn’t Constructive

The un-fun reality is, whatever I happen to think of it, I’m stuck here for now.  Face facts, put on your big girl pants:  this is what I have to do for the time being to get myself to the point where I can do something different.

I’ve said again and again (and believe oh-so-vehemently) that if you’re stuck in a situation that makes you unhappy, you need to either change it, if you can, or find a way to deal with it if you can’t.  Complaining about it or resenting it does nothing but make you–and everyone else around you–miserable.

But when it comes to my job, I haven’t been following my own philosophy.  I’ve been doing the exact opposite, actually.  And that ends now (she says to herself sternly.  Are you listening, Self??)

Resenting what I’m doing doesn’t change the fact that I still have to do it.  It only makes me unhappy while I’m doing it.

On the flip side, doing my job cheerfully and with the best attitude I can muster isn’t a public endorsement of my love for said job.  The universe won’t look down on me and think, “Oh wow, look how cheerfully she’s working right now!  Maybe this job is right for her after all.  Let’s just leave her there a little longer…”

It seems so silly when I write it out like that, but I’ve actually worried that venturing a little enthusiasm would be…almost dangerous…for that  very reason.  Like having an enthusiastic attitude toward my un-significant job would somehow be a compromise of my morals.  I wonder how many people similarly hold themselves back from giving their all at something because they don’t think it’s “worthy” of their time.  But the truth is, my time is worthy of the best I can give it, even if I have to spend it on something I’m not particularly in love with.

Resentment won’t change my circumstances, and trying to appreciate what I can of them won’t lessen my integrity as a rebel.  I’m only lowering the quality of my time–and the quality of myself–every time I approach my (unavoidable) circumstances with resentment.


Begrudgingly Accepted Truth #3:  Resentment Makes Me a Lower Version of Myself

This whole Quits project isn’t just about escaping the 9-5 and getting rid of obligations I don’t care about.  It’s about turning myself into a better version of myself.  And nurturing a rotten attitude toward the things I can’t change–especially something like my job, which takes up so large a percentage of my days–goes totally against this goal.

There’s an inherent dignity and grace (and awesomeness) about someone who keeps up a great attitude in spite of shitty circumstances.  And there’s an all-too-common unattractive mediocrity about someone who bitches and moans about their circumstances, even if only in their own head.  (Outwardly, I’m a cheerful-enough little worker, but inwardly, oh, I’m all simmering, ugly bitterness.)

I don’t want to be that kind of person.  I want to be the kick-assest I can be, in all situations–even the un-ideal ones.  That’s what a Cordelia does.  That’s how a Cordelia ought to live her life.

So, this Monday morning, I am going into work with a smile on (goddammit!), no matter how much I secretly dread the time-suck and wish I were anywhere else.  I’m going to remind myself that where I am is where I am, and it’s up to me whether I make the situation into a decent one or a crappy one.

It’s time to start taking my own advice.

Image: Flickr

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  • What a great post and I love that you outlined the reasons resentment isn’t an effective tool for change, or a happy life.

    As I often write in my blog, happiness is a choice and the result of active participation in my life. I’m not in a job that fulfills me, and I’m working on making a 180 degree career turn. But I can still practice enjoying my current job for all the good things about it (and there are plenty when I choose to recognize them) while I work on making the career changes I desire.

    My ultimate goal is not to quit a job I don’t like, but to mindfully create a work experience I love. It’s not about the end result, happiness comes from honoring my goals and practicing happiness every day.

    • “It’s not about the end result, happiness comes from honoring my goals and practicing happiness every day. ”

      I love your philosophy!

      You’re right, happiness is definitely a choice, regardless of external circumstances.  I too am trying to create a “mindful” experience of everything–my job, my chores, my time with my husband–because if I can’t learn to be happy in the here and now, there will never be some magic “fix” that makes things better.  If, when I leave my job, I haven’t learned to enjoy what’s right in front of me, who’s to say I won’t still be unhappy?

      I definitely like the way you think.  You are on the right track.  🙂

  • I really really need to use your philosophy on this toward my internship. I hate it. But it’s not going to help. In fact, it might even burn some of my bridges. 

    • I hear you.  There are going to be plenty of days when I still just can’t stand spending 8 hrs. here, but that’s no reason for me not to give it my all and try to be as happy as I can.

      I truly believe we’re put in certain situations for a reason.  I (we) may not enjoy it at the time, but there’s a point to it, even to the sucky situations.  Hang in there, it will get better!

  • Lindsey Morningstar

    For some reason I had always assumed you quit your 9-5 a while ago, I guess because most of your posts revolve around leaving the typical work environment. I think your humility on the subject is quite refreshing. Sometimes we have to make decisions based circumstances out of our control (like paying rent and other adult-like responsibilies) which don’t exactely help our creative sides thrive. The struggle becomes keeping those passions alive despite life’s obstacles.

    One day you will be free from the 9-5 grind, but in the meantime let the struggle fuel your work and passion for writing. If you think about it, it helped write this great post!

    • I try to take that perspective often–if I hadn’t gone through so many years in the 9-5, if I weren’t still struggling to free myself of it, this blog would never have happened.  I’d never have become passionate about improving my life and making my own circumstances, and it’s a project that’s totally transformed my life and gotten me more energized than I’ve ever been.

      You have to be thankful for the rain in addition to the sun, if for no other reason than that the rain makes you appreciate the sun all that much more…  🙂

    • Marianne

      I love this: “in the meantime let the struggle fuel your work”
      I am in the same boat as you Cordelia and this post really struck a chord with me. In fact, last Friday I was so hating my job, I was seriously considering walking out. But luckily I didn’t as it really is a decent job and they pay me well, no one micromanages me, and oh yeah, I’m pregnant and need the insurance! 😉

      But I digress… I did try to come in with a better attitude this morning, even though it’s Monday and this post really helped to put things in perspective.

      Just found your blog thru a comment on Corbett’s site btw 😉

      • Hi, Marianne!  So glad you found me.  I thoroughly enjoy Corbett.

        I feel the same way you do about being tempted to just walk out at times.  But, like your coming child, I have a husband, mortgage, dog(s) to consider–although sometimes those are the only things keeping me from doing it!

        I’m so glad my post helped you to attack your day with a better attitude.  It’s something I’ll be working on every single day I’m here.  We can both do it.  Glad to have you on board!  🙂

  • In terms of the whole universe thing – my perception is that by being happy, you attract more happiness. Not so much the situation in which your happiness is taking place. 

    Otherwise – I think a switch up in mentality is important. While your post is very secular, a lot of spiritual texts talk a lot about gratitude, being mindful and appreciative. Mostly because it increases your vibration so you’re more likely to attract what you want without realizing it. I mean, there’s a reason why some of the most successful people (at least that I’ve met online) are always throwing around words like awesome! and kickass! and just generally being enthusiastic about what they do. 

    Sometimes it’s not about having a job you love – but finding things to love about your job. Or re-defining your relationship to work. Like for a lot of people, their work just supplies them with an income so they can have food and whatnot while they do what they want on the weekends or whatever. 

    But – I love your posts. This is great. 

    • You’re definitely right about the benefits of a positive attitude.  Positive people tend to be more open to opportunities when they arise, more likely to shrug off setbacks, and more likely to keep working for their dreams even if things get tough.  If all you can do is complain about your circumstances, nothing will change, but when you radiate optimism and hope, it really does tend to attract better things to you.  Things the woe-is-me’er wouldn’t even notice if they did come by.

      I read a quote once, I wish I could remember from who:  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  The power of positive thinking is definitely not to be underestimated.

  • Great post.  You can choose to be happy even if you know you’re meant for other things.  I know that when I come to work and consciously tell myself to do the work with a smile on my face then it really helps.  It also helps when I tell myself that things could be a lot worse. 🙂

    • I’ve used to be irked by people who say “fake it till you make it,” but I’ve found that it really does work. If I’m in a bad funk, and I force myself to smile and react to the world as if I’m in a decent mood, eventually it starts to turn things. The world reacts nicely back to me, making me feel better, I start to feel better because I’m acting like a nice rational person, and I slowly begin to realize that it’s just more pleasant for me to approach the world positively.

      It really is true that you can change your mood just by pretending yourself into it.

  • You can shine a light wherever you go.  You can also place your order with the Universe for exactly what you want.  Just Be Very Specific.

    • I like the way you think!

      Universe, I would like to request the patience and sense of humor to get through my days at work with a good attitude–and also a raise. As long as we’re being specific. 😉

  • Chelsea Latimer

    Amen, this was fantastic.

    • Glad you liked it!  🙂  Thanks for the kind words.

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    I just find it awesome that you can take pretty much any subject that bugs a lot of people and put into words what pretty much everyone else is thinking but unable to voice, and you do it with honesty, humility and humor.  That’s my girl!  Keep it going!

    • Aww, thanks! That’s the brilliant, shining talent I hope to one day make us all rich with! 😛

  • This is a really great post. I went through a similar transformation with my job a few months back. For me, I think it was based on a fear that if I stopped struggling against the job, I’d settle in, get comfortable, and never grow or do anything more meaningful.  I’ve watched so many people do that, and I was terrified that I would do the same. Twenty years later, I’d wake up and find myself still sitting in the same beige box, older, more scared, and more stuck than ever due to all that inertia.

    Heaven forbid, if I relaxed, I might even start to like it!

    As it turned out, when I stopped resisting, I actually did like my job for awhile. But that didn’t make me lazy, and it didn’t make me forget my dreams. It just made the meantime more pleasant.

    • “For me, I think it was based on a fear that if I stopped struggling
      against the job, I’d settle in, get comfortable, and never grow or do
      anything more meaningful.”

      “As it turned out, when I stopped resisting, I actually did like my job
      for awhile. But that didn’t make me lazy, and it didn’t make me forget
      my dreams. It just made the meantime more pleasant”

      Yes, yes, and YES!

  • Andrew Olson

    Hey Cordelia,
    This is such a cool blog, I love how you actually go through your thought processes and how you’ve come to realize these things, rather than just preach to your readers, that’s really valuable. 

    It’s funny, when you ‘begrudgingly accept’ some truths, you crack the door in a way that you probably can’t ever go back. It plants the seeds that, even if you’re not ready to accept today, will eventually grow into beliefs and actions. 

    • Thanks, Andrew! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      I am definitely not a guru or an “I’ve been there, let me tell you how” type of blogger. I see myself as more in the trenches, reporting back to other fighters on how I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and that they can maybe do it too. I’m just figuring this out as I go along myself, and I think that can be helpful (and hopefully comforting) to others trying similar ventures.

      You’re definitely right with the plant-the-seeds viewpoint. A lot of these Quits don’t happen overnight, but just acknowledging that I need to do them, and committing to trying every day, starts to make a slow change in the way I perceive and react to my world.

      Glad you’re reading! 🙂

  • I really enjoyed this post.  

    It’s funny how we can fool ourselves into believing that resenting our job takes away a piece of it’s power over us, when in fact the opposite is true.  

    It takes WAY more energy to be grumpy and resentful than it does to be positive about the current situation.  Wasted grumpy/resentful energy is energy that could have been used to create, plan, or execute escape plans or, frankly, just used to do something fun.

    Unfortunately I find that resentment is like a slow, low fog that creeps into my workday.  Everything could be going just fine, and then I look around me and discover that I have been brooding for quite a while without even noticing it.  And once that fog is in, shooing it out is a bitch.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if a big bell rang that said “You’re Doing It Again” rang to alert you to change your mindset?  Maybe I’ll invent that 🙂

    • You make an excellent point–you’re right, it takes TONS more energy to harbor a resentful attitude than to just go with the flow, take what cheerfulness you can, and move on. And that energy loss keeps you from doing the things that really matter or being open to new opportunities.

      You’re also right that it’s much easier to *know* all this than it is to actively stop yourself from falling into a resentful pattern. The best we can do is just try to recognize when we’re in the middle of one and try our hardest to shake ourselves out of it.

      And that “You’re Doing It Again” bell? Sign me up to be your first customer! 🙂

  • I’m totally of your mindset on this. My job may not give anything to me “personally,” but I do get value and satisfaction out of using certain skills to the best of my ability, doing a good job, and knowing that I’m a valuable part of our office. I’m trying every day to find contentment and reward in that, knowing that this is just a stopping point for me, but it’s not a bad one in itself, and we can find value in anything if we look at it with the right attitude.

  • “This whole Quits project isn’t just about escaping the 9-5 and getting rid of obligations I don’t care about. ”

    I like that bit. I’m in the same boat. My gf actually sent me this link. I am however planning to quit my job. I decided today in the shower. I feel amazing about it. I will find a better job that I find rewarding. And you will too.

    I will be writing about my experience too if you wanna pop by for co-inspiration! 🙂

    • Hey, David!  So glad you’re reading!

      Mad props to you for coming to your recent decision.  It takes a lot of guts and work, but it will be so, SO worth it (for both of us).

      Checking out your blog now.  I look forward to hearing how your journey goes–we can make it!

  • Meg | One Love Meg

    I don’t love my job but I like to look at it as a stepping stone for the next bigger and better opportunity. I love how you said:

    There’s an inherent dignity and grace (and awesomeness) about
    someone who keeps up a great attitude in spite of shitty circumstances.

    I am a huge advocate in having a positive attitude , the second I am around negative people they try so hard for me to fall to their level.  I come to work with an open mind…. and I always have new goals and opportunities in mind for the future.

    • Thatta girl!  Check out Abby’s recent guest post on pity parties if you haven’t yet–sounds exactly like your experience with negative people.

      Getting negative is the easy way out, but by no means the effective, helpful, or rewarding one.  Good for you for maintaining your positive vibe in spite of less-than-perfect circumstances.  I’m right there with you!

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  • Melody

    Please understand we are all doing things that prepare us for the next step this is life.  If the job you are currently in is not your passion.  Write down what is only you know what GOD has placed inside of your mind, body and soul as we all of unique gifts and talents to share.

    Next step is to keep your current job and create goals to move towards working in the job of your dreams.  Did you know when you work at a job that is your passion time flys?  Did you know the bonus is you get paid to do the job? 

    You can become anything you want to become, pray, trust GOD and move forward staying in neutrual is always depressing.  The only person who can change the situation is you.  Please keep your current job until you have a better one and start examing yourself what things do you like to do?  Write down your dreams and goals and put them on the bathrooom sink where you brush your teeth, put them anywhere you can see them over and over and before you know it you will have reached your passion and you wont be working but I promise you will be making money and smiling every day.

    GOD bless you and your family two and four legged!

    • Thank you for the kind and inspiring words.  It seems that you are indeed doing work that really gives you meaning and purpose, and that is truly awesome.  I can’t wait to one day be able to say the same thing.  All the best to you.  🙂

  • Happy

    I love this, spoke right to my heart. God bless you.

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