Are you in an abusive relationship with your job?
Do you give it all the energy you have, only to feel drained after? Do you put your job before your sleep, your health, or interacting with friends? Do you feel like you owe it to your job to sacrifice everything? Do you stay up all night, obsessing about how you can make things right in the morning?
America is a culture that seems to pride itself on how hard it can work. We log 60 hours a week, scoff at sick days, and eat lunch at our desks. We think this is how it’s supposed to be. But the truth is — it’s not.
If you’re allowing your job to abuse you and use you until you’re exhausted, the truth of the matter is that you’re never going to be happy in your career. And worse yet, your job won’t care.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, but there’s one I’ll never forget. It was one of those fast-moving, how-is-it-5:30-already? jobs that would often send me home tired and tight. I barely took vacations. Employees supposedly got an hour for lunch, but I rarely left. I would answer emails and do work at night. I would feel terrible if my boss was unhappy, even if I was being blamed for something that was out of my control. I was a good employee. I worked hard to make them money, and even when I felt like certain decisions were unfair, I kept my mouth shut.
And then one day, I was let go.
The meeting was less than four minutes.
I really didn’t want to cry in front of my coworkers, but I was flabbergasted. I had sacrificed a lot for this job, and now it was over, just like that?
If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Generally, your job does not care about your mental health. If you’re one of the rare individuals employed by an organization that truly prides itself on maintaining a happy environment, you may be seen as an actual human being, rather than a cog in the wheel — but make no mistakes, when it comes to bottom lines, your job is not going repay all your personal sacrifices.
I am by no means telling you to quit, slack off, or make the lives of the people you work with difficult. I am, however, asking you to really think about what success means. Who are you really benefiting by sacrificing your happiness for an entity that would never do the same for you?
Being laid off was a hard pill to swallow, but it was a defining moment for me in my professional life. I realized I was blaming my job for my emotional and physical pain, but I was actually doing it to myself. My job never asked me to sacrifice my happiness, I just did, and it benefited.
Like most people who are able to look back on a dysfunctional relationship, I can’t believe I ever thought that was how things were supposed to be. It hasn’t always been easy to steer clear of situations that threaten to pull back into my old ways, but now that I know just how happy I can be on a Monday, you’ll never see me repeating the past.
Overworked woman photo available from Shutterstock