Being miserable in one’s work or career can be a very dangerous place to find oneself. Because misery leads to desperation. Desperation leads to unwise, probably impulsive, decisions that could have long lasting ramifications.
I know because I’ve been there. For nearly four years I worked as a bank teller. Describing myself as miserable during that period of my life may have been an understatement. Most of my time in this job was spent at the drive through lane in a Raleigh branch of an easily recognizable bank. In the late spring of 2011, I applied for a promotion that would bring me back to my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia.
A part of me truly believed that the change in location and job title would alleviate some of the misery I felt in regards to banking. It didn’t. After being promised this promotion, which was to come with additional pay incentives, my training for the new position was continually postponed. The misery never abated.
That’s when I became desperate to find a way out. A friend of mine, at the time, worked for her father’s small, but growing, local business. One evening, after a particularly frustrating day at the bank, I offhandedly asked her if her father was hiring. She said yes, then got me in touch with her dad. He and I arranged to meet on my upcoming day off work. Little did I know this would be an interview.
During this unofficial interview (I didn’t even suit up), we talked about what sort of change I was looking for. I expressed my distaste for banking and the sales component that always made me feel guilty for trying to talk customers into products they didn’t really want or need. I shared how much I loved to write and enjoyed being creative whenever possible. I left feeling good about the conversation, but still unaware that I was actually being interviewed.
A few days passed and I received an email. I was being offered a position that he specifically created with me in mind. If I accepted, I would be known as the Special Projects Coordinator. The way he described it, I would handle press releases, YouTube videos related to the business, dealing with Craigslist customers, blogs, creating websites, and creating brochures. He also included a sales aspect in which I would field calls that came from one of the company’s discount websites.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the sales thing, but the description made it sound like it would be a minor aspect of the job on the whole and something I felt confident that I could do. The rest sounded like my dream job. I knew I had to jump on it. The only problem was that he needed me to start a week after receiving the offer. That would mean being unable to give the traditional two weeks’ notice to the bank. Now, I’m not one who likes to burn bridges, but, when your imagined dream job is at stake, you light that match.So I left the bank, giving them very little time to cope with losing a mediocre teller such as myself. Really, I was unimpressive as a bank employee. But I was a warm body that could get things done that needed to be done. They weren’t happy. It should have been a read flag. But I didn’t care. Dream job!
Misery leads to desperation.
Desperation leads to bad decisions.
Bad decisions lead to suffering.
And more misery.
I was in my “dream job” for about three months. And what did I do in those three months? Let’s look back at that list of responsibilities, shall we?
- Press Releases – I wrote all of one press release.
- YouTube Videos – Never once touched a camera.
- Craigslist Customers – I did do some searches for some pretty sketchy characters, but I wouldn’t say this took up the bulk of my time.
- Blogs – I wrote two blog posts. They received zero traffic while I was there.
- Creating Websites – A task I was unfamiliar with, but the boss man assured me that he would show me how. His idea of showing me how was giving me the name of the software and letting me know that it was pretty user friendly.
- Creating brochures – Not a single one.
That left me with attempts at sales. Which, to me, was not so dreamy. Remember, I was given responsibility over a discount site. So the calls I was fielding were from customers who were basically looking for a handout. You can’t sell a product to a customer with no money. My sales numbers were abysmal. Yet I was being lumped in and compared with fellow employees whose job titles actually included the word sales. As “Special Projects Coordinator,” my job title did not include that word. When my numbers were not as good as the real sales people, I was told that this little experiment in job creation wasn’t working out.
Instead of being fired, I was moved over into the warehouse where I would become a delivery driver. Look, my experience delivering pizza in my Ford Escort did not make me qualified to drive a large box truck for the first time ever. And when it was clear that I was bad at driving the delivery truck, I was relegated to custodial work in the warehouse, constantly sweeping the gigantic space. If my college degrees could see me now.
So let’s recap. I was miserable at the bank. This led to being desperate to get out and find something new. This led to the poor decision to jump at an expectant dream job that turned out to be far less than dreamy.
Kids, I recount this long story as a reminder to myself of what misery and desperation can lead to. And I need that reminder right now. Because I find myself miserable in my current position once more. A job that I absolutely loved when I began it in 2012 has become a thing I resent and desperately want to escape. Of course I’m looking for opportunities to alter my current career path, but I need to be very careful about the choices I make.