I’ve had many jobs: I’ve been a grad student, an unpaid intern, a caddie and now a cubicle warrior. Every shit job that led up to this was worth it because I always thought to myself, “I can’t wait to get an office job so I don’t have to deal with bullshit anymore.”
I’d like to send 20-year-old me a letter saying to let him know that no matter where you are, you always have to deal with bullshit.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had finished grad school and was on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland to enjoy some graduation debauchery with a new lady friend, who is now often referred to as Mrs. Madoff. I had been drunk the prior few days and was trying to enjoy the beach weather without throwing up in front of a bunch of families. An unfamiliar number with a familiar area code called, so I picked it up. I had recently interviewed for a job that I figured was already promised and they were doing a formality interview, only to find out that they offered me the job and a decent starting salary. I celebrated as anyone would — I got drunk for a third night in a row and had a miserable drive home because of it — but at least I had a job.
Seeing as this was my first “real” job, with an actual salary and benefits, I was pretty pumped, but all good things come to an end. Many of my friends and grad school cohorts were still seeking employment, so I had a leg up. But I’ve known for a while this job could never be long term. Any job where you live and die by funding is never fully secure. Now nearly three years into the gig, I have fished the pond clean and started to seek employment elsewhere. Not because I don’t enjoy my job, but because the state decided that funding anything in education, public health, or infrastructure isn’t really their thing.
The first job blues are very real. It’s the first place I could actually call home. I understand why many Boomers stay in the same place forever: you get comfortable, people know you, you don’t have to rebuild and learn a new system. They were a product of their environment. Over half of the employees that work here have worked here since before I was a freshman in high school. They also get sweet pensions and grandfathered in insurance policies that have long since been wiped because there is no sustainable way to fund that kind of stuff, but that’s neither here nor there.
The truth is: I love my boss, most of my immediate coworkers and I’ve spent a lot of time investing in our “family-like” atmosphere. Maybe I stayed too long. Doing the same thing with little deviation leads one to become complacent. I wasn’t really learning anything, but I was making a solid paycheck and writing on the side.
After having a conversation with my work mom, I realized it’s time. It’s kind of like being kicked out of the nest, but I needed it so I can move on. I’ve had four interviews with more on the way, so it’s not like it’ll be hard to find a new job. It kind of reminds me of when I went to college, in that I’ll be away from comfort but the new environment will be a fresh start with new challenges, opportunities and chances to improve myself.
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I be looking for a new job soon?” chances are, you should because no one wants to become the old, weird guy who’s been there forever and has no idea how to do anything outside their very specific skillset that is antiquated anyway. Life’s a garden, dig it. .
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