What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
According to a study cited in a recent HuffPost piece, that job you hate that kills your spirit a little every day is also killing your body, causing your immune system to crumble and your interpersonal relationships to implode. The study found that an unhappy work life could cause anxiety, depression, and general burnout. If you hate your job, like really, really hate it, your overall health could slowly disintegrate until you’re nothing but an empty shell.
But that dream-crushing, soul-death inducing job is sometimes the only way you can keep your lights on in your apartment and have food and underwear. It’s not always possible to just leave a bad job because you don’t like it, no matter how awful it might be. Anxiety shmanxiety, BITCHES NEED MONEY!
I finished college with an arts degree (my mom still cries for the International Relations/Pre-Med/Spanish triple major-ing daughter she never had) and was trying to get my life at least semi-medium-together-ish. I got a job at a non-profit fundraising call center and sat in a windowless room in front of a computer screen, attached to a headset that made my ears sweat.
It wasn’t a bad job. It just happened to be a perfect breeding ground for all my neuroses and social anxieties to grow and multiply. Talking to strangers on the phone is TERRIFYING, especially when you need them to make a non-profit, tax-deductible donation within 10 minutes so your boss will quit looking over your shoulder all the time.
We had to follow a script, which was helpful because I’m not great at talking in general, but the script was no help when I’d get yelled at by strangers on the other end for calling them too early, too late, or for interrupting their dinner (It’s not my fault you picked up the phone two bites into your chicken parm!). I routinely heard “Never fu#%ing call me again,” “Get a job” (this was my job), “Get a life,” and “Don’t you have anything better to do?” (I don’t, sir, I really don’t).
I’d put off leaving my apartment until the lastlastlastlast minute because I didn’t want to be there a second longer than I had to, but showing up late mean that everyone else was already seated so I’d have to walk down this gauntlet of already-seated people that divided the room aka SOCIAL ANXIETY NIGHTMARE TIME. I felt sick every time I walked in.
I started getting throbbing headaches that would last for days and was constantly nauseated. I worked a ridiculous amount of hours, picked up night shifts and worked through the weekends. I barely slept, because if I went to sleep then I’d have to wake up, and then the whole thing would just start all over again. I felt like ass crack everyday, but I couldn’t just quit.
One day I woke up for work with my head hurting so badly I could barely see. I went to the kitchen to try to eat something and puked in the sink. I was shivering and my skin was gray and I thought my head was going to crack open. I drove myself to the urgent care.
The doctor made me pee in a cup and did a brain scan and a bunch of tests that I am STILL paying for, but after a few hours, she said she couldn’t find anything that was physically wrong with me, other than the fact that I was clearly under a lot of stress. She wrote me some prescriptions and sent me on my way. So I basically I ended up in the ER for no apparent medical reason, other than I hated my job so much it was making me feel terrible.
Even though it was a generally awful experience, there were moments that weren’t entirely terrible. Here are some things I did that made my crappy job suck slightly less:
Make at least one friend.
The only thing that kept me from going home and curling up in a fetal position every single night were two roommates I worked with who would invite me over to their house after work to drink beers and watch "Portlandia." Knowing I wasn’t totally alone in my misery made me feel a lot better and made the time seem to go by faster.
Do stuff on the weekends and after work.
Most nights after work I’d collapse on my bed, shame-spiral into a review all the worst moments from the day, and wake up in the same clothes I fell asleep in, thus perpetuating the cycle of misery. I was always tired and sometimes it was just easier to pass out alone in front of Netflix with a bowl of wasabi peas nestled under my boobs than trying to make evening plans with friends after work. Don’t do that. You should get out and do stuff. Whatever makes you feel good.
Try to think of ONE positive thing about your job.
My first job ever as a teenager was at an outdoor theater, and I was able to take away two valuable pieces of knowledge from my time there:
1. I will never eat movie popcorn again. The liquefied “butter” in the package it all comes in is NOT A FOOD and looks like cloudy pee.
2. DRY HUMPING. I was introduced to the magic that is dry humping by my teenage coworker that summer, and where would I honestly be right now without dry humping? WHERE WOULD I EVEN BE???
I eventually got another gig that allowed me to quit that job, and I'm not doctor, but I can tell you that my head doesn’t feel like it’s exploding anymore.