Work Problem No More

I have had a lot of jobs, I’m what some would call a “job hopper”.  My resume is two pages not because of my many accomplishments (queue sarcasm), but because writing all the different companies, addresses, and dates worked there takes up a lot of space.  The longest I’ve ever stayed at a job is less than two years, which to me seems like an eternity. It’s almost become a joke with my friends and family because you never know where I’ll be working the next time you see me.  All joking aside, I kept changing jobs because I wasn’t happy.  I put such a strong emphasis on job satisfaction leading to happiness that I set up myself up to fail.  I couldn’t look past my father’s guidance that jobs are here to pay bills and happiness is found outside of work.  My brain was unable to comprehend that concept and I continued my search for the “perfect job”.

The “perfect job” doesn’t exist.  Well, I guess some people get to wake up and do what they love and feel fulfilled every day, but I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t get that.  Not everyone can turn a passion into profit and use their hobbies and interests to sustain a living.  I get that now.  I left a lot of good companies because my unrealistic expectations weren’t being met, but I also left a few bad ones because my intuition was right.  Now I find myself at a technical writer’s dream job; a major tech company.  I’ve never loved what I do for work but there definitely parts of the job that I enjoy.  These parts were not always obvious to me, but I was able to pick them out when I sat down and really thought about why I’ve stayed in my field.  Even though I don’t love what I do, I’m very lucky that I love where I do it.  I have the privilege of working for a company that treats people like humans and makes a product that millions of people enjoy every day.  Although I don’t love my company every day, sometimes it feels like a massive cluster f*ck, overall I can honestly say I love this company.  This is meaningful to me because I’ve worked places I wished would burn to the ground. But even though I love my company, I’ve had times where I’ve hated my job.

A few months ago I found myself in the uncomfortably familiar place of not feeling any semblance of job satisfaction.  I was bored and felt underutilized and unappreciated.  But after I got over feeling sorry for myself I came to the realization that I was as a massive tech company – no one was monitoring my every move and no one was going to fix my problems for me.  I talked to my manager and before I knew it, work came pouring back in and I was feeling much better about my position. But something interesting happened yesterday.

Yesterday, we had a department-wide meeting where each team gathered together to write down their goals for the quarter and how they would achieve them.  Since I’m not a developer or a product person, I had nothing to contribute. I sat around for three hours trying to figure out what people were talking about and nodded so much that my neck is sore today.  When it came time for the teams to present their findings, I looked around the room and thought, “I am by far the dumbest person in this room, and none of the work I do really matters.” Strangely enough, this didn’t make me feel bad, it made me feel relieved.  

At all my other jobs, and this one for a while, I got really down about not pursuing my passion and that most of the work I did didn’t really matter.  But while I was standing in that room yesterday something clicked; none of that matters. I work for an amazing company that gives me amazing benefits and treats me better than any company I’ve ever worked for.  I work with good, smart people who don’t make me want to bash my h head into a desk.  I don’t need it to me my passion because it allows me the time and resources to pursue mine. I may not be needed or produce valuable work all the time, but when I do it makes me feel really good that I can provide a needed service.  My department doesn’t need me every day, but when they do I’m here and ready to help them. When I step back and look at all that, it looks pretty damn good.

Sometimes we have to reevaluate our expectations and realize that not everything looks the way we planned it, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  When you can appreciate what you do have and stop focusing on what you don’t, it makes the things you have seem great.  And if you aren’t able to see the good and need to make the change, give me a call – I’m a master resume writer and have a rolodex of recruiters.

Depression is a Dick

Depression is a dick for many reasons.  It waits for an event or moment that’s extremely important to you, whether it be a visit from your best friend or an interview for your dream job, and then right when you’re supposed to be happy and excited BAM! Depression is here and it’s ready to ruin your day.  Or week.  Or month.  Or year.

Depression is a dick because it’s like having a leech stuck to your foot. It slowly drains you of your energy, excitement, and passion.  While no one around you sees the cause, they all see the result.  They say “Why are you so down all the time?  You used to be fun,” and “Can’t you just snap out of it?”  But you know it’s the depression that’s making you like this.  You think, “I am fun, I just don’t feel like myself right now.  I’m trying to snap out of it, but it doesn’t work like that.”

Depression is a dick because it makes colors fade into grey.  Foods that used to make your mouth water start to taste like cardboard.  Friends that used to make you happy start to make you exhausted and embarrassed.  Work that used to fulfill you starts to drain you.  And getting out of bed suddenly starts to seem impossible.

But the main reason depression is a dick, the reason I don’t think people realize, is that depression lies.

As depression sinks in and takes a hold of you, it becomes harder to fight back and easier to give in.  Instead of thinking “I am fun,” you think “They’re right.  I must not be fun to be around anymore.”  Depression makes its way into your mind and tells you that you’re not good at your job, you’re not attractive, you’re not likable, and you’re not worthy of happiness.  And if you let it, depression can make you think that your life isn’t worth living.

Do not listen to it.

Fight back against it.  Fight back with therapy, medication, art, music, loved ones – anything that makes you happy.  Don’t listen to depression when it tells you those things don’t matter anymore, remember that depression is a dick and it’s lying to you.
Remember that you are talented, you are beautiful, you are loved, and you are extremely worthy of happiness.  Don’t let depression win.

Embracing Change

It’s 6:15pm and tomorrow is my last day at my job. I finished all the work I needed to get done. I tied up every loose end. I could have left 15 minutes ago but I feel tied to my desk.

It’s not because I have to get work done. It’s not because I feel pressured to stay late. It’s because I don’t want to leave.

Every time I think about getting up and going home the reality that I’m leaving my job sinks in. Everyone assures me that I made the right move. I was offered a great job at a growing company with a very high salary and the ability to work remotely. I even get to travel to the UK. I couldn’t ask for anything more. But when I think about leaving my current company, the only one I’ve ever loved, I can’t help but be filled with sadness, anxiety, and a twinge of regret.

I’ve never worked at a company I loved before this job. I’ve never had coworkers that felt like family. People tell me that that won’t change and that my new job could be just as great if not better, but I find it hard to believe.

I took the new job because, in the long term, it was the best decision. I know that deep in my heart but right now it hurts like hell. And I know it’s because of one reason: change is fucking terrifying.

I’m giving up the known for the unknown. I’ll go from knowing everyone’s name to knowing no ones and it’s scary. It’s scary to change your environment, embark on new journeys, and start new chapters. It’s hard to walk away from people you care about and join a community of strangers. It’s hard not to know if it’s ok to curse in meetings, drink at your desk, or show up at 10am. It’s even harder to know that you’re leaving all that behind.

Change is difficult because it’s uncertain. What if the new job sucks? What if I made a huge mistake? But…what if it’s not? What if the new job is even better? Changing jobs isn’t the only change that’s scary. Moving, graduating, breaking up, getting married are all changes that scare us. But they’re all things that are part of life.

Most of us will not live in the same town, stay at the same job, or even stay with the same person for our entire lives. Change is inevitable. Change is necessary. Change helps us grow. As scary and uncomfortable as it is, change is part of life. We can stay in the same comfortable situation or we can pursue new opportunities that make our lives better. Sometimes we choose change and other times it’s thrust upon us, like when we lose our jobs, our homes, or our loved ones.

Maybe if we embrace change instead of run from it, it would be easier to accept. Maybe if we stopped focusing on all the things we’re losing and focused on what we’re gaining, we could enjoy it. It’s not easy, but change happens whether we want it to or not.

If we have faith in our abilities, ourselves, and the universe, change doesn’t seem so bad. We need to remember that even though things can seem rocky and uncertain, there will always be a way for them to work out. We need to trust ourselves to make decisions for change and embrace the changes we don’t ask for.

Even though it feels safe, if you stay in the same place physically or metaphorically, you never grow. Maybe change isn’t bad after all.

Life Happiness = Work Happiness (Not the Other Way Around)

Today, a very cherished employee left my company.  Not only was she phenomenal at her job (god help her replacement), she was a genuinely great person to have around.  No matter what was going on, she always did her best and kept everyone motivated with a smile on her face.

As she made her rounds saying her good-byes, I thought about how strange it will feel without her warm, positive presence around the office.  Whenever I felt down or self-conscious at work, anytime I had a meeting with her or even saw her in the hallway, her smile always made me feel better.  I’ve worked in eight offices, each with a completely different vibe and energy, and I’ve realized it’s VERY rare to find people who make you smile.

It’s very easy, almost too easy, to let life’s bullshit bring you down, especially at work.  At one of the offices I worked in, it seemed like there were only two people (out of sixty) who didn’t look completely miserable.  For over a year, I was one of them.  I didn’t have the most exciting job, but it caused me zero stress, I made friends in the office, and my paycheck (barely) allowed me to live in my own (tiny) apartment and have fun with my friends.  But somewhere along the way that stopped being enough.  I got this idea in my head that my job defined who I was.  I mean “what do you do?” is usually one of the first things you ask someone when you meet them for the first time.  Suddenly I wasn’t fulfilled by my job and before I knew it, I was miserable at work.  I decided I needed to make a change, so I found a new job in a new city and set out to start a new life.  You know what happened?  I was still miserable.  Even more than I was before.  Thus began, the year of job hopping.  In one year, I had five different jobs at five different jobs.  To my credit, only two of them were full-time, but three of them had the potential to become full-time (the other was freelance because I needed the money).  Every time I switched jobs it was a huge blow to my self-esteem.  If my self-esteem had been a log at that first job, it had been whittled down to a toothpick by the time I got to my current job.

It’s been almost two years since I made the decision to leave that first job, and I finally learned what my problem was – as corny as it sounds, I was putting all my eggs in one basket.  I was looking at my job as not only my identity, but as an indicator of my self-worth.  As I mentioned, my jobs didn’t work out which I internalized as me not working out.  I believed everything that went wrong must have been some reflection of myself.  When you feel that way inside, it’s almost impossible not to show it on the outside.  Even if you don’t realize you’re doing it; if you feel miserable, you probably look miserable.

You know what else I learned?  Happy people avoid miserable people.  Not in the sense that they don’t want to help someone who’s upset.  Think of it this way – if you’re walking down the street and you see someone stomping down the sidewalk looking pissed or upset, you’re probably not going to smile at them and say “good morning!”  I know this is New York so saying “good morning” would be weird even if the person looked happy, but you get what I’m saying.  Frowns and scowls are not inviting.

But what if your job is making you miserable?  Then what do you do?  I never advocate pretending to be happy or forcing a smile.  Forced smiles usually make people look insane.  If you’re stuck at your job until you find a new one or get through a rough patch, do this instead – put it in perspective.  Easier said than I done, I know.  I have to actively do this a lot because I take every single thing WAY too personally, but I swear it helps.

Think about this:

  • Does your job allow you to pay for rent and/or groceries?
  • Does your job give you health insurance or other benefits?
  • Does your job allow you to do fun things with your friends (like going out to dinner) or for yourself (like buying a new shirt)?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then that’s a reason to be happy; you have something that gives you something you want.  Try to look at the things in your life that make you happy and feel good about yourself.  Like I feel really good when I’m out with my friends.  My job allows me the time, since I don’t work 90 hours a week, and the salary to be able to go out for dinner or drinks.  I don’t make enough to do it every night, but then again I wouldn’t want to go out every night.  My job also allows me to pay rent for my apartment which is where I get to spend time doing other things that make me feel happy and important, like writing or cooking dinner for my boyfriend.

It’s taken me two years to realize this and is still something I have to remind myself, but there are lots of things in life to be happy and grateful for, even if one big thing makes you unhappy.  When work makes me feel inadequate and useful, I try to remember that my job title is not my whole identity.  I may be a technical writer, but I’m also a blogger, a whiskey enthusiast, a dancer, a CrossFitter, an animal lover, a cook, and a lot of other things.  I’m lucky to have a job, even when it makes me stressed or upset, because it lets me be some of those things (especially a whiskey enthusiast) and have the freedom and ability to become other things.

If your job is bringing you down, try to focus on what it allows you to do, no matter how small.  That way you’ll feel better about yourself and create a positive environment around you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be the smiling person that helps other people who are feeling down feel better.

A Bro Chick PSA – Ladies, Be Nice

The nickname “the bro chick” comes from a dear friend of mine.  He gave me the name because of three defining factors:

  • I love whiskey
  • I love football
  • I don’t understand (most) women

“Bro chick” also reflects the fact that I am not a “girly-girl”.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being a girly-girl, it’s just not me.  My friends having lovingly teased me for not knowing how to use a curling iron, for cutting my own hair with kitchen scissors (don’t worry, I washed them before and after), for only owning purses that come from Target, and for always choosing a playoff game over “The Bachelor” (or some other reality dating show).  However, I do wear makeup (sometimes) and I like to wear dresses (mainly because I find shorts horribly uncomfortable and wearing pants is the worst).

While I agree these things separate me and other bro chicks from the girly-girls, they are not what makes one a bro chick; it’s that third bullet point that separates us.

You know what sounds like a nightmare?  A bachelorette party, a bridal shower, or a baby shower.  Why?  Because it’s a group of women talking about things I could give less of a shit about.  I don’t care that your baby learned to walk at nine months (unless you’re related to me – then please send videos).  I don’t care that your fiance got you a ring without inclusions or whatever makes a diamond expensive.  And I’m actually not impressed that you got that dress at Marshalls, I just feign interest to avoid you telling every other woman to ignore me.  Because that’s a thing – it has happened to me before and to this day I don’t know why someone would do that.  It was a dick move.

For whatever reason, most women seem to hate other women.  Perhaps it’s jealousy or insecurity or whatever, but whatever it is it sucks.  I have worked with 99% women and 99% men and guess what?  Working with 99% men was LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than working with that many women.  No one talked my ear off about their expensive handbag or how many calories they had consumed that morning while I was trying to work.  Most importantly – no one threw each other under the bus.

Ladies, this is my main issue and why I actively avoid women I don’t know in social situations – you are mean.  You are mean for no legitimate reason and it sucks.  Just because I’m friends with your boyfriend does not mean that I want to sleep with him.  Just because I wore Uggs out in public does not mean I’m some sort of leper that should be pointed at and given dirty looks.  And just because I have a job that sounds really technical does not mean you should feel threatened by me or instantly label me a “nerd”.

Why is it so hard for women to be nice to each other?  Men don’t seem to have this problem.  Does society pin us against each other?  Can there be only one supreme woman?  Because if there can, it’s Oprah.  We all lost so it’s time we got over it.

So please don’t give me a nasty look when I talk to your boyfriend about the Giants.  It’s not some vindictive way to seduce him.  I’m making conversation because your death stare does not make me want to ask about your shoes. I have wonderful female friends so I know it’s possible for us to get along.  If we took the energy we spent judging, backstabbing, and criticizing each other, we probably would have had a female president 20 years ago.

Take a lesson from the guys and just f*cking relax and be nice.  Not everything is a competition and your friend’s promotion, baby, husband, or 10lb loss does not make you dumber, less likely to get married/pregnant, or fatter.  
Now let’s have a beer and move on.

5 Ways to Survive Work With a Hangover

Whether you went out to happy hour with your co-workers, had a boozy dinner party with friends, or polished off that magnum bottle of wine by yourself faster than anticipated; being hungover on a weekday is the worst.  There are few things more unpleasant than waking up with the spins, a pounding headache, and dry mouth only to realize you have minutes to get out the door, get to your job, and try to be an adult.

As someone who has had their fair share of rough mornings, I’ve discovered five things you can do combat your lapse in judgement and survive the workday.

1. Take a shower

Do this before you leave for work…obviously.  This is something I swear by. Not only because you want to wash the makeup, smell of booze, and shame off of you, but because it feels awesome.  There’s something about a hungover shower that is so rejuvenating.  After my office Christmas party, I woke up with 5 minutes to get out of my apartment so I had to forgo my revitalizing shower.  I went to the gym on my lunch break that day not to sweat out the booze, but to stand in the shower for 30 minutes. It was amazing.

2. Eat something greasy and keep the fluids coming

If you normally stick to a healthy breakfast or lunch, throw all your fears of trans-fats, sugar, and gluten to the wind. Today, that double bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel is your friend.  Make sure to stock your desk with plenty of fluids – iced coffee (no matter what season it is), purple Vitamin Water, and plain old water should keep you hydrated and alert.  Just keep in mind that this may send a signal to some of your coworkers that you overindulged last night.  I got called out for being hungover at work when I showed up to a 30 minute meeting with a bottle of water, a massive cup of green tea, and a vitamin water.  Speaking of coworkers…

3. Stay away from anyone who can fire you 

Fortunately for me, I’ve seen my boss hungover more than once at work and there’s an unspoken understanding in our office.  After our summer party, only ⅓ of the office showed up to work the next day (who puts a party with an open bar on a Tuesday?). However, I have worked at other companies where it was frowned upon for employees to come in smelling like beer and to wear sunglasses all day.  During those days, I would eat lunch at my desk to avoid having to try to speak coherently with my boss in the lunchroom.  I would also walk in and exit with my headphones on to avoid any unwanted small talk.

4. Take a nap or go for a walk

I miss my car.  There was nothing like a 15 minute power nap to help me make it through the day.  Even if the admin did catch me and judge the hell out of me one time, it was still worth it.  If you have a car, I urge you take advantage of the luxurious back seat for a quick snooze to replenish your energy. Sadly, I take the subway to work now so that’s no longer an option. Instead, I walk around the city to jolt me awake.  Something about dodging men in suits glued to their iPhones and smelly homeless people recharges me like my former car naps did once upon a time.  The fresh air helps too…unless it’s summer.  If it’s 90 degrees inside stay inside and avoid windows. The sun is your enemy.

5. Learn from your mistakes

Showing up to work hungover is unprofessional and could cost you your job. If you work in a school, doctor’s office, or other job where your actions have a direct impact on other people, you should definitely drink in moderation during the week (save your bender for the weekend).  If you work in tech, however, save your weekday binge drinking for company events.  That way multiple people will be hungover and you can just blend into the crowd.  Also, drink plenty of water, take some ibuprofen, and remember that doing shots during the week is a terrible idea…even if your boss pays for them.

If You Do This, I Hate You: Part 2

I also occasionally run dry on ideas.  It happens.  Yet I still feel the urge to write (or I’m very bored).  It is a conundrum every writer is familiar with and faces from time to time.  To help find a solution to this problem, I started thinking about other things I’ve written in the past and decided that certain articles deserved a sequel.  This article is a continuation of “If You do This, I Hate You.”  Without further ado…if you do this, I hate you:

Leave me in text limbo

One of the features I enjoy most about texting with iPhones is that you can see when someone else is texting.  It’s helpful because I know that you saw my text.  What is not helpful is when those three dots are there for over an hour.  Especially if I asked you a question.  Are you thinking about it?  Are you writing me an essay?  DO YOU WANT TO GET PIZZA OR NOT?

Take forever to respond to emails

I understand people are busy and don’t compulsively check their e-mail like I do, but waiting 2+days for a response is really annoying and shouldn’t be a thing.  Did you get on a plane for 20 hours? Did you smash all of your electronics because you’ve had enough with society?  Did you die???  No?  Then reply to my goddamn email.

Don’t blow your nose when you clearly need to

If you can hear the gross snot sound you’re making by not blowing your nose when you clearly need to, we can all hear the gross snot sound.  If you do this on the train, it’s still gross but understandable.  I also rarely travel with tissues when it’s 80 degrees outside.  If you do this in a restaurant, that’s super gross but I know our time together is brief so I can deal.  If you do this in my office (guy who sits on the other side of cube wall), I HATE YOU.  Blow your f***king nose dude.  There are tissues boxes everywhere and it’s really inconvenient when you make that horrendous sound while I’m on conference calls or eating my lunch.  You ruined my split pea soup.  Jerk.

Can’t commit

If I try to make a plan with you, don’t say maybe.  Be an adult and say “Yes I’d love to go to Six Flags with you,” or “No I don’t want to do bottomless brunch with you at 10am”. “Maybe” is only an acceptable response if something is up in the air.  If your mom might be in town, you might have to work later, or you might be too hungover, then say that.  But if you don’t want to commit to plans because you’re waiting for something better to come along then I hate you.  I didn’t ask you to marry me, I just asked if you wanted to get tapas on Friday.

Post your entire life on social media

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  It’s great because I can stay in contact with people and mainly because I can use it to shamelessly promote my blog.  It’s NOT great because it’s filled with things I don’t care about.  It also makes human interaction difficult because I already know everything you’re going to tell me.  Oh you went to Bermuda with your family?  I know that because I saw all the pictures you posted hourly while sitting in my office hating you.

To sum it up – respond to people trying to talk to your through various devices, blow your nose, make plans, stop choosing an Instagram filter for your selfie and the world will be a happier place.