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Happy Monday, everyone! Well, not “happy.” More like, “Hey, look at you making it into work alive and everything.” Wherever you are reading this, I’m going to venture a guess it’s not where you really want to be: still wrapped in your coziest blanket in bed watching Parks and Rec for the fourth time. Instead, you’re probably sitting at some non-descript cube or open-desk area in an eggshell-painted room where you’ll be confined for approximately forty hours next week.
The truth is everyone hates their job at some level. Even if you are actually passionate about what you’re doing, love the people you work with, and get a great deal of fulfillment from what you’re doing beyond just making a living, there are those moments where you do wish you weren’t working. In fact, the level of hatred you might have for your job can change based on how busy you are, whether there is new management, new clients, new projects you’re on, new people in the office, or even the closure of your favorite lunch spot. Reaching higher levels of hatred doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit or start looking for something else. But if you’re consistently in the top few levels, it’s definitely something to consider.
Level 1: The Inconvenience
You like the work and the people you’re seeing five days out of the week. The pay is good, your boss treats you fairly, and the eight hours go by relatively swiftly. The atmosphere is professional, yet collegial, and you get a little swell of pride when you talk about your day to your buddies or significant other. You don’t understand why everyone else is bitching. It’s a job, you’re not supposed to like giving away eight hours of your life at a time, but that’s the price you pay to have drinking money and not live in abject poverty.
Sure, there are little annoyances, like a long commute, lack of work-from-home options, or a sparsely supplied break room. But you can handle that. Truthfully, you don’t wake up most mornings dreading going to work, you dread leaving the comfortable embrace of your bed. There’s a big difference between preferring to not have to work, and hating your work.
Level 2: The Aggravator
You’re still generally fine with the job itself, but you really don’t like one particular aspect of your work. More than a mere annoyance, this one aspect somehow always manages to eat at your confidence and sanity. If you could snap your fingers to change this one thing, the job would be perfect. And you’ve nearly broken your thumb from snapping so much trying to will this change into reality.
It might be that one task like a weekly meeting presentation, staying late once a month, or needing to document your work for the week. It could be that one client who just rubs you the wrong way coming in to see you. Maybe there’s one particular co-worker that you just don’t like having to interact with. Whatever it is, this is the fly in the ointment. The one aspect of your job that can really irk you when it comes up, even though you’re serene 95% of the time.
Level 3: The Bore
It’s not so much that you hate what you’re doing, it just bores you to death. Like Peter from Office Space, it’s not that you’re lazy, you just don’t care. You show up, day in and day out, and just count the hours until you’re free to go home. Sure, you’ll do whatever menial tasks get thrown your way since you actually need this job and the money it provides you, but you’re giving the bare minimum effort. Stanley from The Office is your spirit animal.
Your hatred of the job really has nothing to do with this job specifically. You wouldn’t really be happier doing anything else, and truthfully you’re just running the clock until either retirement or a lotto win. The reason that you hate going in every morning is that you have to go in every morning. Nothing excites you, nothing motivates you about what you’re doing. The only slim pleasure you get at the office is the feeling you have when you get to leave.
Level 4: The Incompetence
Whenever you enter a new organization, you do so full of pep and wonder. You’re so entranced by all the new toys you get to play with (triple monitors for the win!), the new people to meet, and the new things you can learn. But, sometimes, underneath the surface of this new group whose name adorns the top of your paycheck, there is discontent.
After a few weeks or months, it starts to become obvious to you that this is not the same group you were so enamored with during the interview. They don’t treat the employees well, they cut costs in all the wrong places, they devote an inordinate amount of time to pointless projects that never go anywhere, and there is a massive disconnect between what management thinks the lower-level employees need and what they actually do need.
It’s not boring only because you’re terrified at what stupid shit those clowns upstairs are going to do next. Layoffs and branch closings are a constant threat. So you keep your resume up to date, just because you know you might need to.
Level 5: The Dick Boss
You might not hate your job, you might even find it somewhat stimulating. However, having a dick boss is pure hell. Unlike a bad coworker, who is usually just an annoyance to an aggravation, a bad boss has the potential to make your life a waking nightmare. She controls your wages, your potential for advancement, your duties. He can smother you with attention, throw you to the wolves in HR, or leave you to drown in a sea of paperwork you’re ill-equipped to navigate.
If your boss is well and truly an asshole above the rest, there’s really nothing you can do. Every day going into work is going to be a test, as you wait and pray not to do one innocuous thing to draw his ire your way. You’ll walk around on eggshells, praying to God those reports you gave her were 100% accurate. You won’t even risk bringing up ESPN on your monitor, knowing you’ll incur his wrath if you’re a split-second slow on your alt + tab skills. And, if things get particularly dicey and he ends up berating you in front of the whole office, you may end up needing a brief cry in a bathroom stall or supply closet.
Level 6: The Toxic Culture
This is bad. This is when the bad boss syndrome permeates the entire corporate ladder. Above you, there is nothing but assholes who treat their subordinates like crap. They shift blame downward and always throw you under the bus, so you begin to stop trusting them, going to them for help. That only exaggerates the problem, as mistakes begin to pile up and the disconnect between the employees and management grows. Whereas with a bad boss you can just pray he’ll get fired or quit, in a toxic culture some asshole will take his place.
In a toxic culture, there can also be hints of the incompetence, as well as more sinister aspects like rampant sexism, racism, embezzlement, nepotism, favoritism, or only providing two weeks paid vacation. The fish rots from the head down, and right now you’re down by the asshole (if fish even have assholes, I’m no marine biologist). The only saving grace is that you and the other peons can gripe and support each other, like Band of Brothers. Nevertheless, for sure you should be making like Daniel Kaluuya and Get Out.
Level 7: The Perfect Storm
Toxic culture, a shitty boss, the work is unsatisfying, your co-workers irritate you, and you’re too far away from the nearest Chick-fil-A to get there and back in the half-hour your allotted for lunch. This job has everything that you didn’t want and tried to avoid when you were looking for a job. You’re not even sure how you ended up here and would readily accept that they brainwash you into signing your contract. How could you not have seen this coming in?
Bottom line is that this job has no redeeming qualities. You are actively looking for another job, trying to discreetly schedule interviews during your lunch hour. If it wasn’t for the fact that you need the money, you would have quit in a fiery blaze of glory long ago. It truly cannot get any worse, you think. And yet, there is one level more you have not reached.
Level 8: The Soul Crusher
The Perfect Storm, but with the added bonus of giving you lasting mental scars. There really is no other way to describe this job other than soul-crushing, as every single day and experience feels like it’s pulling you closer towards the sweet embrace of death. Long hours, poor pay, menial tasks that give you no pleasure and are performed for assholes is bad enough, but this job makes you actively question your own self-worth. Whether this industry is right for you. Whether your childhood dreams were a mistake. Whether you’d be better off faking your death and living as a drifter.
This job has destroyed your mind and spirit. You actively dread getting out of bed in the morning, and your hatred for this place intrudes into those moments when you’re “off the clock” as you already can’t bear to endure another day. Sunday Scaries are no longer a thing for you; your life is Scaries every day and night.
There are bad jobs, there are miserable jobs, and there are soul-crushing jobs. If you ever, end up in a soul-crushing job, quit. Life is too short to let a job eat away at your happiness. .