Reasons It’s Ok to Stay at Your Awful Job

Rest has a purpose

We constantly hear about moving forward, about professional development, about not settling for anything less than the best. But we’ve all settled, even if briefly, and that’s ok. That’s human. I want to explore the reasons I think it’s ok to stay in an awful job, and validate the place we’ve all been.

  • It’s ok to stay if the work sucks but the people are great.
  • It’s ok to stay if you’re working on what’s next, but it’s not quite clear yet.
  • It’s ok to stay if work is just going through a rough patch, and you hope it’ll get better.
  • It’s ok to stay if work is the one place you have structure, safety, and that’s holding you together.
  • It’s ok to stay if lives you care about are depending solely on you.
  • It’s ok to stay if the job is funding your true passion outside of work.
  • It’s ok to stay if you know your boundaries and won’t let it get worse for you.
  • It’s ok to stay if work is a safer place than home.
  • It’s ok if you don’t have an answer right now.

I help people with their careers, with their relationship to work, and so often people beat themselves up for “settling for mediocrity.” Don’t be mean to yourself, your rest has purpose. This uncomfortable place is temporary and will pass.

Find the reason to the pause on your journey, a helpful compassionate reason, and forgive yourself for not knowing what’s next. None of us truly know what the future holds. We’re all in this together.

What if it didn’t get better?

Finding comfort in disaster-planning.

I hesitate to believe all the people who tell me “don’t despair, it’ll get better.” Maybe it’s my innate cynic, maybe it’s my midwestern roots, maybe my time as a counselor has shifted my perspective.

There’s no danger in asking “what if?”

What if it didn’t get better? What if we are on a precipice looking down, to our much-worse future? I know how despair can be debilitating, but whitewashing the future can keep us from preparing for disasters.

I would rather have a plan for the worst, than merely hope for the best. Here’s my thoughts on what we will need for a future that could be much worse than the present:

  • Normalize disaster planning to create a better sense of self-sufficiency. It’s not weird, it’s prudent.
  • Find your community to rely on. You can’t do this alone.
  • Develop best practices for dealing with bad news. Stay informed while staying engaged, ignorance only hurts in the long run.
  • Determine your area of control to maintain a sense of security.
  • Determine your values, so as to better defend them when they’re trampled on.
  • Check your beliefs of a perfect world and how they might be harming your planning for a worse-future.
  • Mourn the divide between your dreams and present reality. Then move on.
  • Everybody will need to learn the language of therapy, to be able to provide better emotional support in their community.
  • Establish a language of boundaries of care, to prevent all of us burning out from caring from one another.
  • Find your motivator, be it fiery rage, or stubborn resistance, or unassailable hope, and hold on to it for dear life. For life is dear.

What’s your thoughts on planning for a scary future? What does it feel like to fight despair with action? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You're not crazy, but I don't know what to do

You feel like everyone else is getting by, living a normal life, and you're the only one aware of the world burning down around you. In your head you're shouting "Fire! Fire!" but you feel nobody would listen. Everything you see on the internet, on your social sites, reminding you that all is fine and dandy, but you've still that that eerie feeling you're being sold a false reality.

I'm here to say you are not crazy. 

But that doesn't mean I know how to fix any of this. You are experiencing that divide between knowing something is wrong and being able to talk about it. It's taboo to talk about a problem without seeking a ready solution. Awareness is an uncomfortable place that people don't like to sit in. Rather than feel empathy most would rather solve a problem and move on, never acknowledging the suffering that problem caused. But how can we fix something if we don't know what's wrong?

You are not crazy for feeling upset, worried, concerned, or powerless. These are human feelings, and you are a human. These feelings will eventually drive action, or will be sublimated, censored, silenced. That's something you always have control of, your voice.

That's the good news, that you're not imagining these feelings, that you have a right to them, that they mean something, and that you can share them. 

Now for the bad news.

I can't make these feelings go away. I can't fix the problem. That's on you, but not you alone. These feelings are that sign that something needs to change, but just as they are your warning light, they can be your fuel as well. You have the ability to find others who feel as you. You can have your voice heard. Your suffering is valid, and silence won't solve it.

Those who censor, who silence people in pain, are effectively colluding with the people who caused it. By making you quiet, they want you to accept the pain you receive, devalue yourself and your experience, and go along with a way of life that has made you feel crazy. For the most part they are not malicious people, they are just more uncomfortable with acceptance, uncomfortable with awareness, uncomfortable feeling powerless.  This is a chance to connect, to feel empathy for that discomfort of not knowing, to sit together in that dark and scary place of "I don't know what's next."

Before we find answers, we need to find each other.

The pain of hundred, a thousand, a million people is not solved be one person. Do not try to bear that weight alone, it will break you in no uncertain terms. Together we can work together to find an answer, but first we need to be together. Compare the power of "I am not crazy" to "We are not crazy."

I don't know what to do, but together we might find out.