Yesterday marked the first day at my new job.
If you know me, you know that work and Jess do not mix. As a general rule, I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to avoid having a job.
It’s not that I dislike working. I actually spend the first several months of my new jobs enjoying the work, trying my hardest, and making an effort to impress my bosses. When it becomes apparent, however, that my best efforts receive very little in the way of praise or acknowledgement of my value, my morale begins to drop. When, the first time I try to call in sick, I hear terseness and disapproval on the other end of the phone, I begin to realize just how much my employers actually value me and my health. Read: Very little. When the icy weather comes, the stuff that I am on occasion unwilling to drive through, and I call to ask whether I can stay home, the voice on the other line tells me they’d really prefer I try to make it in, which shows me that they do not care about my fears or concerns, or that they even acknowledge the increased risk involved in coming in to work on that day.
In short, the longer I work for a company, the less important I feel as a human being, and thus, the less effort I am willing to put into my work. It gets so bad that waking up every morning becomes a momentous task, and the drive to work and subsequent eight hours behind a desk feel like handing over my soul for the right to have a roof over my head.
There have been times when I’ve happily traded that roof for my soul again.
For a long time, I’ve thought that perhaps there’s something wrong with me. I mean, so many people do this every day for their entire lives, until they’ve earned enough to retire and live their own lives. Was I wrong to think there had to be a better option? That people deserve more than to chain their hearts to a grey cubicle for half of their lives?
I ranted quite a bit about this on my LiveJournal, frequently and with much the same anguish over the years. I’m pretty sure people became aggravated with me, especially those who viewed hating your job as one of the facts of life, those who told me I should consider myself lucky to even have a job. I began to feel guilty about my opinions on work, but it didn’t stop me from looking for something better.
In May, I tried quitting cold turkey. Again. That decision cost me my annual trek to North Carolina for the Hoop Path Retreat, but it’s hard for me to regret it because of how much I enjoyed having my life to myself. Still, the money ran out and eventually I knew I needed to get a new job.
The search seemed more awful this time around than it ever had. It felt like any job I could possibly find would be a means to a paycheck and nothing more. I didn’t want to do it again, and thus my motivation flagged. Severely.
Things got bad. And then things started to feel bad. And then, when each day seemed like it would be spent wondering, “What’s going to go wrong today?”, I decided I had to get serious about looking.
It’s not easy to find work when the last thing you want to do is actively seek out the thing you willingly traded in for poverty, but I did my best. I received a nice kick in the pants from a friend who told me her office was hiring, so I forced myself out of bed for a 9 AM interview (quite the feat considering I’d been waking up at 1 PM).
If you’d like to know how to fail an interview entirely, just ask me about that particular morning. When you’re battling extreme exhaustion from only two and a half hours of sleep, and you’re not even entirely sure you want this job in the first place, answering questions from a well-meaning interviewer becomes about as easy as picking up anvils with your teeth.
I knew I had blown it. I knew there was no way they would call me back.
I spent some time later with friends, telling them about my botched interview and listening to them talk about their new jobs. They told me about how the company they worked for put the morale and well-being of their employees above everything else, and my ears perked up.
“Are they still hiring?” I asked.
“Yes, they’re about to start a new training session, actually.”
I printed out my resume right there and asked them to take it in.
But when I didn’t hear back from them either, I began to fear that perhaps I’d waited too long this time, perhaps I’d quit one job too many, and that I might have become un-hirable.
When our home situation grew all the more desperate, I knew something had to give.
I asked for help.