On Doing What You Have To And Not What You Want To.

I have a job that pays me fairly well. I have benefits. My husband has benefits. I shouldn’t complain, especially when there are so many people still without any job at all. BUT.

But, I’m miserable at work. I’ve been doing this for 6 years and while it can be interesting work, most days it just feels like taking a voluntary emotional beating. I’m exhausted every day when I get home, and not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I hate this job. I hate that there isn’t any balance, that I have to work even when I’m sick and can’t ever be too far from my phone in case someone calls or emails. I’m completely at the whim of my clients, which, more and more often, means late night emails that need immediate attention. And despite the promises of my boss when I first interviewed for this job, there is no support for life/work balance. A lot of those late night emails that require immediate attention come from him.

And I feel trapped. Trapped because the job does pay well and it helps support us, and lets me buy some pretty shoes every now and again, and helps us fly to visit my husbands family. It supports me, but I hate it. And I feel guilty for complaining, but I hate it. And I find myself resenting it more and more because it takes all of my energy away from the thing I *really* want to do, which is write.

But life is expensive. I’m rather fond of having a roof over my head and a cocktail in my hand. So, I keep working at a job I’m miserable at. Because sometimes, you have to do what *have* to do, and not what you want to do. At least for a little while longer. Just a little while longer.

– Mae

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45 thoughts on “On Doing What You Have To And Not What You Want To.

  1. OK,I read you post and all I want to say is “You can’t have everything at all,everything have a price and you have to pay it or you’re out”.However you can do something different and stop buying such a luxury shoes or restricted yourself in some ways and find a less high-paid job and be happy.The problem today is that the vast majority of people today have this absurd perception of success which includes needless indulgence.Just saying… ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I don’t have any brilliant words to console you with. Everything I’m thinking about writing won’t come close to making you feel any different. So just know there is someone out here sending good thoughts and positive energy your way. Hugs, Kat

  3. I don’t know if it’s worth saying, but take solace in the fact that you are most definitely not alone in thinking and feeling like this. All the spiel in the world about doing a job you love and being happy with your 9 to 5, blah blah blah is just sometimes not even remotely practical. So, we do what we have to do.

    I took the jump into freelancing/contracting nearly a year ago thinking I’ll be doing what I want to finally do. Fact is, I still have bills to pay, I still have to do the 9-5 contracts to help keep me in the lifestyle I got used to.

    You’re not alone!

  4. I’ve been in a similar situation, and I’m sure a lot of people have. When I quit my job with great pay/benefits/security/pension, people were aghast. It was the kind of job that once you go in, you never get out (even though many, many people were miserable). But I got out, and while I miss my online shopping, I know with certainty that my LIFE is ultimately going to be happier. Of course no one can tell you what to do, and there are always good reasons to stay and to go…but maybe if leaving right now isn’t realistic, making a longer-term plan to transition into what you really want to do would make you feel better even as you stick it out for now. Light at the end of the tunnel, you know? Good luck! It’s tough.

    • This is definitely a good idea. To look at the end goal. Because while it is necessary to sometimes ‘graft’ in your work and take the beating, it is just important to remember that a day spent unhappy is a day wasted. Especially if it is only to take care of the cost of luxuries. If you take the risk of following a new patch it might just be that something even more rewarding comes your way.

  5. Oh, how this resonates with me. I’ve been there before, and it’s wretched. I feel your pain, and I’m so sorry that you have to go through such a hellacious experience — especially when it involves little to no downtime. Being on a short leash and constantly at the beck and call of your clients only adds to the misery of the situation, simply because it gives you no time to recover from the unpleasantness of your work day. It’s no way to live. No one should have their spirit crushed by their job.

    For what it’s worth, you’re clearly a gifted writer. My fingers are crossed that you’ll be able to find a way out of your miserable job and into a writing gig that allows you to do what you love! In the meantime, hang in there — you, Grace, and Kate have an awesome blog here (I only stumbled on it yesterday, and I’m already a devoted fan), and the internet is a better place for sites like this.

  6. Mae, I sympathize with you because I feel exactly the same. I don’t get late night interruptions or phone calls; once I leave the office, I pretty much leave the work behind (other than an occasional email from my boss) but my job isn’t high paying. I needed a job and I took a pay cut and no benefits, sad but true. Like you, I have to work, I have to pay bills but I hate the majority of my job and spend a great part of my day counting the hours until I can leave (and dreading coming in to work when I’m not in the office).

    Trapped is a great assessment of the overall blah feelings.

    Hang in there. Something better is waiting for you, me and all of here who are disillusioned with our jobs. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You’re so right. There is something better out there and I’m confident we will all find what makes us happier soon. Thank you for sharing!

  7. One year ago, I was in the same spot, though writing wasn’t what I was yearning for. It’s singing that makes me want to leave my cubicle and never return to the 9-5.
    However, I figured I needed to do this step by step. For one thing, I needed to build my confidence in myself as a singer (and am still working at it), because I figured there’s no point in leaving my job if I’m too scared to do what I love best.
    I still quit my old job because a new 9-5 job gave me the opportunity to re-start and re-arrange my hours and my schedule.
    So I’m still in a cubicle, working a regular job (with the same risk averse criteria such as insurance, benefits etc.), but my musical ambitions are slowly taking shape.
    What I’m trying to say is: maybe getting yourself another “regular” job would give you the freedom to re-arrange some of the priorities in your life and allow you to have more time for writing. Or get an 80% job rather than full-time. Basics still covered, but more air for what you love.

    • Great advice! Sometimes it’s hard to see my options when I’m so blinded by the frustration of every day, but thank you for making me see past that.

  8. Ahh, yes, so many people can relate to this. The positive side of this is that you are honest enough to say how you really feel about the job, yet you also are self aware enough to realize how fortunate you are and exactly why it is you continue to do it. Maybe the scale will someday tip and you will no longer feel its worth it. Until then, I say it’s good to let the frustrations out from time to time. Like beating a proverbial punching bag…. Good luck!

  9. I was just writing about this myself the other day. I don’t hate my job all the time, but some days it’s just lonely. And emotionally draining. And sad. It’s just the atmosphere an my own insecurities about being a new, relatively inexperienced person. I look at friends with their degrees struggling like I was to find work, and I remind myself to realize how lucky I am.

    • There is definitely an end in sight. And it’s not too far off, a year or two more, and then I’m done. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you’re right, too much time is spent working to do something that makes you miserable.

  10. Ah, you know, pretty shoes are overrated. I even got married barefoot. True story.

    But seriously, I understand the dilemma. It all boils down to how much more you like to hold that cocktail in your hand than you hate answering those late-night emails. When the pain of the second outranks the joy of the first it’s time to move on. I wish you strength to do what you have to do. Or what you want to do.

  11. I am in the same emotionally exhausted boat! Why do we work 40hrs at a job that sucks the life right out of us? I do it because I feel I have to. I’m a single mom, my kids come first, they never once set foot in a day care, now they are older so I can work 40hrs. Honestly I don’t even remember how the heck I managed it when they were small. You work more hours and your bills get bigger?? How does that work? Oh I am not the best with money, now I remember. You are young, do it now before it’s too late….be happy now!

  12. Buy & read 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Think you’ll find it helpful, especially the part about negotiating working from home. X

  13. Mae โ€“ I think we have all at one stage been in a similar situation so i can relate to your exhaustion and frustration. Unfortunately for some people itโ€™s not an option to โ€˜do what you loveโ€™ as itโ€™s not going to pay the bills! And shoes donโ€™t grow on trees. Hopefully you can find something that makes you a little bit happier but doesnโ€™t suck the life out of you in the process. There is something better out there for you โ€“ you might need to put yourself on a limb to get there. Have you considered extra training? In a new field? Explore all options and hopefully you will find that balance.

  14. I’ve been there. I worked at a job I used to call “soul killing” because I hated it so much, and just getting through a day was so draining. I got out, but don’t make the same amount I did and don’t have benefits. Which also sucks, but at least work doesn’t make me wish my office was up higher so I’d have a window to jump out of!

  15. There must be so many people out there who feel as you do and can’t voice it. This is a great post.
    I knew from a very young age that I would never end up in a job I hated. I also knew that for that reason I’d probably always be poor. I have worked jobs I hated and jobs I loved, and the job I have now I worked hard to get but I love it. I don’t really have benefits and the salary wouldn’t make most people jump for joy, but I never dread going into work– that is a huge plus, in my view. I can also afford the things I would rather not live without– the occasional visit to a coffeeshop, going to the movies once a week, knitting supplies, and what have you. I know my parents are a little disappointed that I’m not investing in my 401K, and that I don’t have the cash to fly home for a visit save once every two years, but at the same time they know I’m happy. Which is good enough for me!
    They say you can’t have it all– well, probably most people can’t. But I hope you get your dream job one day, even if it means sacrificing a thing or two. I totally see you being a best-selling writer! ^_^ Hang in there, we’re pulling for you.

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