on becoming a workaholic

A while back I interviewed for a team lead position at work that would be a significant promotion – more “leadership responsibilities” as a part of the management team, and a salary instead of an hourly wage. My manager had told me I was basically a shoe-in for the job, but then I was a little too honest in my interview — I told my director that I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted the position because, even though I knew I could rise to the responsibilities, I wasn’t sure if a leadership role where most of my job duties would center on auditing and giving feedback to my peers was really the route I wanted to take for my career. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I know that if I had curbed my honesty and said what I knew the interviewers wanted to hear instead of being candid about my misgivings that I could have gotten it, but I think the truth was that I didn’t really want it at the time.

There is another team lead opening coming up, and my manager has said he wants to “work with me” on my interview so that I can get out of my own way, I guess, but the truth is that I’m still not sure if I want this job. Of course I want more money — that’s a given. And it seems stupid to pass up an opportunity to move up the ladder and further pad my resume. But there is still something about being one of the youngest people on the team and being responsible for auditing and coaching everyone “below” me that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I never really wanted to find myself moving up a corporate ladder.

As much as I like my job, sometimes I really just want to quit and go work at the Bagel Deli like I had originally planned to do when I moved to Indy. It feels weird to be in my early twenties and be so  comfortable financially, and there’s almost something that I resent about it. When I graduated, I was terrified of joining the “real world” because having actual bills on top of my skyscraping mound of student loan debt felt like it would never be feasible. I thought for sure that I would be scraping by on the bare minimum, living in some dirt apartment and working a crap job with terrible hours that barely afforded me to feed myself on ramen noodles and Natty Light. I was scared of living like that, but after mooching off of living with my mom for a year after college, anything sounded better than occupying the same town and same bedroom that I lived in in high school. Living in the dirt apartment on the brink of starvation and financial collapse started to sound appealing, and I came to terms with the fact that barely scraping by is an inevitability for most people in their early twenties, so I may as well just embrace it.

Gretchen and I have been watching a lot of Workaholics lately and I guess I just thought my early twenties would be a lot more like that. I thought I’d be doing way more stupid shit during this part of my life, so it’s a little disappointing that my routine has become a Monday-Friday 40-hour work week where I have to worry about things like PTO and customer satisfaction and a “business casual” dress code. Sometimes I really just want to dye my hair purple and wear my Converse to work and not have to give a fuck about “Service Level Targets” or “corporate responsibility” or any of the other crap that is part of working for the man. I want to get drunk on week nights and spend my paychecks on tattoos instead of car payments. I want to be reckless.

I’m really lucky to have found this job, and I love it, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great company, and I’m happy to be working for a nonprofit (even if it is a Catholic one), but it almost feels like I’m cheating somehow by settling into something that came to me so easily when I had been so ready to accept a future of living on the brink of loan deferment, fueled by a not-so-steady diet of peanut butter and jelly and Taco Bell. It feels like a cop out to be content with this. And as much as I loathed my old job, sometimes I miss doing mindless work and not giving a fuck about who I pissed off there or what my boss or anyone else thought of me. I miss being able to function at work with a hangover and not feeling guilty about calling in sick or being late every day.

 I guess I’m just whining about the fact that professionally, I feel like I’ve skyrocketed into adulthood way faster than I was ready to. My job is awesome, but I find it very taxing that I have to wear clothes that I would never normally wear and constantly worry about how I’m perceived on the job and how I’m ranking against the performance measurements our team uses. I find it taxing that I’m 24 and I’m already being pushed to join the management team of a company I’ve been with for less than a year. But in reality, what do I have to complain about? My managers are incredibly down to earth, and despite the sometimes high stress levels, I do find that nature of my work to be challenging in a way that I enjoy, and I’m flattered by the positive reviews that I’ve gotten by my higher ups so far. I’ve already gotten two raises and a bonus and been recommended to head a project championed by our COO, and if I play my cards right I may get another promotion soon. So what the fuck am I complaining about?

I guess it’s inevitable that part of me will always want the opposite of what I have, not to mention that it’s obvious that so much of these feelings stems from the fact that I still really, really miss college. Also, I’ve seriously been watching a LOT of Workaholics.

Take it sleazy. I’m out.

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3 thoughts on “on becoming a workaholic

  1. This is exactly my situation. Sometimes it’s so soul-crushing for me to hide my tattoos at work and put on my “work face” even when the money is so appealing. Rob and I have never dealt with poverty or worried about how we’d make our next rent payment, mostly from pure dumb luck (especially when I look at the situations of my peers) and networking. I don’t have any solutions, but just know that I feel you.

    Also, Catherine Zeta-Jooooooones…she dips beneath laseeeeers…whoaaaaa

  2. I know what you mean! Sometimes I just want to go get a job at Starbucks and not have any responsibility! I mean, I love working for myself, but sometimes it’s so exhausting to literally be responsible for EVERYTHING. I’d like to have purple hair and leave work and not think about it.

  3. You know what? I’m in exactly the opposite place you are. And trust me, it really REALLY wears on you when you’re turning thirty and still can’t afford to live. No matter how “cool” people think you are, you can’t have a normal life when you’re working a dead-end job.

    It’s shameful, sometimes in the winters when we are literally out of food and worried about the heating bill and commuting 2.5-3 hours/day on the bus standing in the rain…I worked six days a week for this entire summer, and missed … everything. And for what? To be able to wear converse to work? My quality of life is very low most of the time.

    Obviously I love my job because it’s super fun and I’m getting paid to hang out with my friends, but what it all comes down to is that I want to be able to do and get things when I want. Like going and getting a haircut. I have not been able to afford a haircut since October. Really.

    The worst thing too is now that I’ve decided to get “a real job”, it’s insanely difficult to find something. I have a university degree and a really strange work history so I am a bit of a puzzle to the people hiring entry level people and get passed over every time. Over AND under qualified? And if I ever do find something, I have to start at the bottom with all the 19 year olds.

    Anyway I know having a grown-up job is probably annoying and soul-crushing, but then you can leave it at the office and have a life outside of work. I work what comes to eleven-hour days, six days a week doing basically a casual version of a customer service desk pretty much, and am too tired on my one day off to do anything but a bit of laundry and watch TV.

    The grass isn’t greener.

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