“I hate my job.” “I should just be thankful I have a job.”
It feels like every day, I fluctuate spastically between one train of thought and the other.
On my way home, I sit on the subway pretending to look out the window, though the opaqueness indicates it’s 10pm and there’s nothing to see. I’m frustrated, but also too tired to show it.
I got into the office at 8am and left at 9pm and I can’t help but bask in my cloud of negativity and spew hate on my job. And it’s not just the long hours, the low pay, the people, or the clients that are getting me down, but the pointlessness of it all that’s really killing me.
I enter a mini existential crisis on the northbound train; what am I doing? Does anything I do matter? What’s the point of this? Does it make me happy?
I’m a digital marketing specialist for a large company, the kind of company that has people saying “wow, that’s great! There’s a lot of room to move up there.” And yet I’m not totally phased or enamored anymore – at least not often. Like I said, I get bouts of mania, happiness, satisfaction and gratefulness around having a job but a lot of the time, I’m feeling pretty down about it.
At first, I thought it was just me, some internal complex that wouldn’t allow me to just shut up and be happy about something. Then when I got over myself, I thought it must be my job, or at least the media industry. I talked to a few coworkers and learned everyone had one foot out the door, a career expiry date if you would. Everyone was miserable and hopeless. The only silver lining was that that meant there wasn’t something broken inside me.
Next, I asked my friends who all worked in different industries but were all close in age to myself, a 24-year-old millennial. I asked how work was going, how they liked everything now that they were doing adult things. Surprise! They all expressed dissatisfaction and hate towards their jobs and life.
So I started asking people why? And what would they change? And where they would go? I got a few “maybe I’ll go back to school” responses, but a lot were lacking a compass.
I noticed everyone in and around my generation had one thing in common: they hate their jobs.
Some were fed up with being overworked and underpaid, others were fed up with management/coworkers, some just wanted change. Another big theme that was rooted in everyone’s response was aimlessness. Honestly, no one knew where they wanted to go but they all wanted to move. Inertia is not for my people, not for us millennial, fast thinking, ADHD-ridden adults. And what’s more, they all want to be a part of something. They want to fundamentally change a common process, alter the world, create change, hell, some even want a Zuckerberg story.
I realized it wasn’t me then, it was my generation.
And maybe it’s not fair to blame this angst and urgency on generational tendencies but that seems to be the only answer to this epidemic of misery.
We all think we deserve more and we want to see the outcome of our work be transpired into something amazing.
we won’t idly abide by processes just because something’s been a certain way for too long, we ask “why” a lot and when we don’t get the answers or change we desire, we enter depressive states.
Just because I’m blaming our dissatisfaction on the fact that we’re part of generation Y doesn’t mean I’m discrediting our feelings. I think it’s okay to crave unique paths and amazing career outcomes but I do think it’ll change the landscape of the job field as we know it. Can we all have jobs that fulfill us tremendously?
I don’t know if things will cool off as we get older but I think as we work through our twenties, this impermanence will result in high turnover and job shifts. We’re on a path to finding something that really gratifies us and that may take some bouts of discontent and searching. What’s important is we’re not settling. Unfortunately, this sucks for our employers. My generation is full of feelers, movers, and shakers.
We’re running towards a deeper satisfaction, not just a paycheck.