Photo: Adam Lynch
I HOPE YOU HATE YOUR JOB.
I hope with every fiber of your being you drag yourself out of bed in the morning and think to yourself, “What are the decisions I should be regretting that resulted in me winding up here?”
I hope your soul is breaking apart into tiny, brittle, blackened and charred little pieces with every phone call you have to answer, every link you dreadfully open, or every smile you have to plaster on, knowing that if anyone actually paid any attention, they’d see the vitriol lining your newly-formed frown lines.
I hope your boyfriend leaves you and forces you to support yourself. I hope your marriage falls apart and makes you question every semblance of a “plan” you once thought you had.
Because that’s key.
Latch onto it, and latch onto it good. Let it ignite the fire behind your eyes and underneath your toes. Let it fuel the angst you feel toward your life, toward your potential, toward the person you could and should have been. Let it force you to daydream to get rid of the existentialism. Let it magically create pans of brownies that also magically disappear.
Let it mold you. Let it scare you. Let it force you out of your comfort zone.
Let it do to you what it did to me.
Less than a year ago, I was a third-party-employee for a top-100 website. What that means is that I could be required to work full-time and during specific hours without having benefits, any vacation or sick days, and the company could still call itself a cutesy, home-grown little start-up. In other words: It was the shaft. The pay was less than great, the benefits didn’t exist, and the team wouldn’t even claim me as part of its identity. Initially, somehow, it seemed okay. It was exciting to be part of a new team and I kind of assumed all writing gigs were similar. But after the gleam of a new job wore off, when breaks weren’t a part of my full-time, minute-by-minute invoices, when I realized I felt completely taken advantage of, I started getting angry. Anything, anything, would be better than this. I’ve slung cocktails and made twice as much; hell, I could move back to Vietnam and live like a king — why in the world would I put up with this?
So I quit. And instead of resenting that place, I get to thank them for my anger. Whenever I get wrapped up in my right brain, feeling all emotional and worthless, I think to myself, What if it would’ve been completely mediocre?
Think about that. If my job had been completely mediocre, I would’ve spent years spinning around in swivel chairs, drinking bland office coffee, and not noticing that my lack of a raise felt like a statistic John Oliver would eventually be using. I would’ve brushed off Monday through Friday as “fine,” been content spending hours on Pinterest on the side, and been slowly turning into a zombie without even realizing it.
Which is why for you, I don’t want you to be “okay.” I don’t want your work to be “tolerable” and “paying the bills.” I want you to be absolutely miserable. Taken advantage of. Scorned. After all, if your work is something you’ve grown to accept, you’ve stopped dreaming. You’ve forgotten about those goals you had as an 8-year-old. You’re not spending hours online researching a way out and finding ideas that you didn’t even know existed. You’re not typing in “anything but this” on Indeed’s “what” field and leaving blank the “where,” entertaining all the options you could go, all the places your life could take you, and you’re not lying awake at night searching the void inside of you that needs to be filled.
You’re not reaching your potential.
After I quit that shit job, and yes, I realize that I was lucky to be able to do so, I had no idea what direction to go with my life. On a whim, I thought, “Maybe I want to try travel writing. Why not?” I had nothing better to do than to pursue an idea that seemed insane. An idea that no one I personally knew had ever done before. An idea that, to this day, I find terrifying. An idea wrapped up in fear and without a single expectation, but a life-changing idea nonetheless.
So I gotta ask, what’s yours? What’s the idea in your head that you’ve been trying to squash since you got that useless degree? What’s the million-dollar proposition you would go after if you just had the time?
And if you say you don’t know what it is, you’re lying. You know what your passion is. You’ve loved comic books since you were six. You sing with a gnarly hairbrush in hand after every shower. You talk for hours about politics, the environment, or the uses of coconut flour. You’re just ignoring it. You’re just ignoring you.
So go on. Hate your job. Loathe it. Call me in a year from now, when you’re neither rich nor arguably successful, and tell me about how you make your own coffee. About how you swivel in your own chair.
About comic books and hairbrushes and coconut flour. About how you finally made the leap. About how that shitty job forced you to. And then we’ll clink our glasses to our past employers, our past fears, and our past selves.
And when your friends say they hate their job, you’ll say,