[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.
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