[Two Pronged] Help, my job sucks!
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes. Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he enrolled in and subsequently gave workshops in work-life balance and gender sensitivity training. He has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years, as co-lecturer and occasionally as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives. Dr Holmes needs no further introduction.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer:
I'm 21 years old and currently working in a publishing company for a year and 6 months. I just got regularized recently. This is not the job that I really wanted and now I'm thinking of resigning from my job. But I really want to be sure about it since we know that finding a job nowadays is really hard.
My emotions really affect my performance in doing my job well. I'm not happy with my job because I feel that this is not really the job that is right for me. But someone told me I just have to be patient and just persevere a lot because I'm only starting my career.
Of course, I tried liking my job. People around me are very nice to deal with. My co-workers are all very helpful to me. I can say that I have a good working relationship with all the people around me. But only my job makes me question if am doing the right thing now. I have a feeling that I'm not doing my job really well.
All I want is to be productive and be good in what I do. But being unhappy keeps me from being productive and performing well. I cannot help but think that maybe if I find a new job that I am good at and I am positive that I will love it, maybe I will be happy and contented enough.
But as I've said, I know that it is hard to find a job right now and I've been thinking also about my family. I want to continuously support them. But if I resigned, and not find a new job immediately, I will not be able to help them with their needs and worse, be a burden to them.
Hope you can give me a good advice.
Thanks a lot! Pam
There is a very good reason people pay us to work but do not pay us to play — they have to because work is seldom fun. This is the case whether you are digging holes in the road under the hot sun, slogging your way through reams of numbers in an office, dealing with yet another gunshot victim in an E.R. during yet another 12-hour shif,t etc.
There are of course people who truly enjoy their work 24/7 but they are few and far between. Most of us get to enjoy it at most for some of the time and those moments keep us going through the much longer dark periods when the only encouragement is the prospect of the next pay check. As Henry David Thoreau wrote: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
Of course we all have theoretical choices when it comes to offering our services for hire by an employer. However, these can be severely constrained by education, economic conditions, health, family circumstances etc. Examples abound, after all, of dreams being unfulfilled because the dreamer is required to abandon school/college to take a job and provide an immediate income for the rest of the family, or cannot meet the medical requirements to be a pilot, and so on.
Our choices are further limited by our priorities. Are we prepared to serve a low-paying apprenticeship, perhaps for years, in the hope of securing a coveted, more senior and better-paying job at a later time? Or do we prefer to aim high from the outset, and move on if our immediate goal is not met? Are we prepared to slog through the comparatively tedious process of learning the ropes or are we only interested in something that offers instant gratification?
You, Pam, seem to be keen on instant gratification. You are obviously doing a good job because you have recently been regularized. You like, and are liked by, your co-workers. However, you are unhappy with the job itself and presumably do not expect it to become more interesting in the future if you are thinking about a change.
Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that you are adopting this world-weary attitude to work at the tender age of just 21. You have scarcely served any sort of apprenticeship yet seem to expect that you deserve a plum job which meets your every requirement, pays a decent salary and no doubt has lots of benefits. You are akin to someone who has finished last in a 100-meter race and expects to be treated like the winner of a marathon.
Finally, you have to recognize that you are constrained by your own personal circumstances. You have decided that your priority is to support your family and there is no immediate job available that will satisfy your desire for change. So your only option is to stick it out while keeping an eye open for a new job that will provide you with what's missing in your present job. Best of luck - Jeremy
Thank you very much for your letter and making so poignant a problem that besets many of us. And I am impressed that you seem to know very clearly the elements of your dilemma: You need a job to support your family, you have a job that does that adequately, BUT you want another job that fulfills you more, though you don’t know where (and if) you can find it.
Jeremy has given you sound advice on how to deal with these different elements. What I’d like to do is share a particular belief that might be getting in the way of your commitment to both your current, and later, your dream job.
This I learned from the philosopher Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. Dr Fromm says many people like to think about painting well, for example, as finding the right object, rather than as a skill that needs honing. They say, “Once I come across that perfect sunset, I will be able to paint that perfect painting, but not before that.”
But as you and I know, Pam, that’s not necessarily so. Even with the best sunset in the world, one may come up with a bad painting because one is not a good painter. And, even with mediocre sunsets, one can come up with breath-taking sunsets because one is a good painter.
Often such rationalizations are used as excuses to putting things off or for not doing one’s best in one’s current position.
So it is with jobs. By all means, look for a job that you feel suits you better and makes you happier, but in the meantime, enjoy what you can and however much you can with this one. Because, while there’s no doubt that finding a job that better suits your temperament and skills will make it easier to do the best you possible can, even a job that you (initially) feel is just panakip-butas (a time filler till you find the right job) can also bring out the best in you.
That is not a function of the job, but a function of your skill: your skill in making do with the best you can, till the right job comes along, your skill in finding activities you can learn from so that when interviewed for that dream position, such activities will make you even more qualified for the job you want.
In closing, I am quoting Ashton Kutcher, who is much closer to you in age than either Jeremy and I. That way, I hope, you can see that not only loshangs (“old fogies” like us) think this way, but also a 30-year-old actor who many women your age seem to think super hot stuff.
“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad, carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, then I got a job at a factory sweeping cheerio dust off the ground and I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than."
“I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work. “
Whether it is because of two loshangs named Jeremy and Margie and/or an actor named Ashton Kutcher, I so hope you will give our points of view some consideration. All the best - Loshang 2, Margie
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED.
Job satisfaction image from Shutterstock.