At first, I didn’t let the discontentment get to me. After all, how many people can honestly say that they love their job? I had told myself that work isn’t something you do for kicks, it’s a means to an end. And unfortunately, whether I liked it or not, it came with the territory of being an adult.
It really wasn’t that hard, in the beginning, to push my true feelings down. Like an actor playing a role, I dove headfirst into my character. I wore the right clothes and I looked the part. I said all of the right things. I took the concept of “work ethic” and wore it on my sleeve like a badge of honor. I was good at my job and I was rewarded for it. The promotions and pats on the back should have been enough, would have been enough for someone else. But not for me.
Things started to unravel so slowly that at first, I barely noticed. I’d be sitting at my desk and my thoughts would drift off for a few moments. It was like entering into a mini trance of sorts, my mind floating off to some unknown destination. Abruptly I’d be snapped back into reality, usually in the form of a ringing phone or a coworker stopping by to chat.
It didn’t take too long before things started to progress. Soon I began having daily headaches that had no apparent cause. Stomach pains started to follow. I was tired, irritable and anxious. My normally upbeat mood was replaced with a heavy sadness that I carried around with me despite my outward happy appearance. My red lipped smile was like a sticker I could put on when I entered the office, that I could finally tear off at the end of the day.
Weekends were my respite but on Sunday nights my symptoms would start to return, coinciding with the start of the new week looming ahead. Lying in bed staring at the ceiling, the feelings of dread would wash over me. “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow”, I’d think to myself.
Immediately I began making a mental list of possible excuses to not come into work the next day. Car problems? Possibly. The stomach bug? Surely no one would want to catch that. An allergic reaction to shellfish maybe?
Eventually I came to my senses and would roll over and go to bed. The next day going to work, business as usual.
Lunch hours were a temporary solace but they went by much too fast. So I started to figure out ways to have extra mini breaks during the day. I had a huge water bottle that I’d refill diligently thoughout the day. I chugged crazy amounts down under the guise of keeping myself hydrated. Juvenile as it sounds, in reality it was so I would have to take multiple bathroom breaks during the day.
On one particular day while I was in my ladies room oasis, I happened to glance up at the mirror. Staring at my reflection, I felt sad for the girl looking back at me with her pleading eyes. She was begging me to make a change. I had pushed her too far.
I realized in that moment that all of the symptoms I had been experiencing were actually gifts. My Inner Guidance had been nudging me, pleading with me with me all along to listen up. Leaving me tiny clues that something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t deny the truth any longer. My job was draining my spirit and it wasn’t okay anymore.
Leaving my job was like becoming part of an experiment. It took me a few years (and a few different jobs) to figure things out. But I made a promise to myself that I would never again deny my feelings. I would instead use them as a compass to guide me. I would only do work that was fulfilling to me. Work that would light me up, feed my soul and that I actually wanted to do. I felt stronger and more empowered than I ever had before. The previous ailments that had plagued me became a distant memory that served as a powerful reminder of just how connected the mind, body and spirit actually are.
In some ways, that job was the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me how important it is to take care of myself – inside and out. It taught me that feelings weren’t something to be swept under the rug. Instead they are there to guide me and let me know when I’ve somehow veered off course. Most importantly, it taught me that I matter. That I’m worthy of happiness, fulfillment and all of the other things that life has to offer.
And as for my smiley face sticker? These days I don’t need one anymore. It’s been replaced with an actual smile, one that spreads from ear to ear.
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22 thoughts on “My Job Broke My Spirit But Taught Me a Valuable Lesson”
Great article. Your story is very motivating and a lot can learn from this :)
Thanks Thea! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I like your story. It shows how it’s important to like what you do. It’s not always possible to have, but more people should try to achieve it. I know plenty of individuals who complain every day about their job, but they are doing nothing to change their situation, and that’s terrible.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Szymon! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my story.
I love what you said about complaining. Complaining doesn’t get you very far, it’s taking some sort of action that will change things.
I need it.
Thank you, Kelly, for confirming whatever it is I am feeling.
Thank you for reading! Trust those gut feelings. They are there for a reason. :)
I firmly believe that your article is something that more people go through than are willing to admit. The grind of waking up, driving to a place you detest, and giving it your “all” for the allotted the is far too common in our society. Good for you for realizing it and taking the necessary measures to correct it.
I too found myself in a similar situation and it would take me a few years to realize what was happening. Like you, pulling the plug was the most liberating moment of my life.
Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be sure to pass it along.
Joel, thank you so much for your comment! I couldn’t agree with you more – I think many people are in denial about just how unhappy they really are in their jobs. I honestly think it’s kind of an epidemic of sorts. We’ve been taught that the 9-5 grind is “Just the way it is.” As dramatic as it sounds, I really believe that people are selling their souls to the devil for a paycheck. Congratulations on “pulling the plug” as you say! I wish more people could see that it IS possible and that there is another way.
I couldn’t agree more. It is almost as if society has been conditioned to think that the 9-5 grind is the expectation of life.
As far as I am concerned (and I assume you as well) the expectation of life is to live it to its fullest. Experience, love, share, adventure, and anything else you can think of on YOUR terms and not the terms of someone else.
Unfortunately, for most, doing this is easier said than done. Fear, uncertainty, and risk all play a part in a decision and I believe that society has done a poor job of equipping the people with the tools to succeed.
Again, loved the post.
I can relate in a way when I left my paid job 7 years ago. I prided myself as a wild hunter, but getting a comfortable job where I spend all the time isolated at the back of my working station is killing me.. inside.
I made a decision to quit. I became self-employed and tried to start a small business on my own. It’s like learning how to swim as I fell into the ocean. I gain and lost so much in the following 5 years. But I’ll never regret my decision.
Now, for some reason, I need to be the best hunter I could ever be. And your inspiring message came at an adequate time. Thanks.
Being an entrepreneur is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s a wild and crazy ride full of ups and downs. But it is also soooo worth it! Best of luck to you Kenny!
awesome story really great motivator
Thanks so much Noah!
There are millions of people that can relate to your feelings of being “stuck in the grind”. It isn’t easy to find a way out and many fall back into “the resignation that living brings”. I congratulate you in finding your path out. I am still searching for mine. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thanks Chas! I wish you the best of luck in your search. What helped me was asking myself some questions like:
What really lights me up? What do I love doing? What are the things I’m naturally gifted at?
Then if you can’t find a job that meets that criteria, consider creating your own, in the form of your own business! :)
While most people can’t quit their day job right away, starting a little business on the side is a great way to get your feet wet and test the waters of entrepreneurship.
I’m from the south of Brazil. I left a career on the rise because I did not feel happy in the work environment. It’s been three years trying to fit my company culture, but I’m not going to do it to myself anymore. It is a self-sabotage process that is doomed to failure. I’m determined to devote my time and energy to something I truly believe. Thanky you for shareing your story! :D
Good for you Bruno! Most of us spend 40 plus hours a week (or more) at our jobs. If you aren’t happy in what you do for a living, it can be a pretty soul sucking way to live. I wish you all the best!
Great article, Kelley Anne!
I recently quit my job, and I am feeling great about it so far. I watch my adult kids do the daily grind of 9-5, but they haven’t found anything else that provides them enough to pay their bills. I think if a job is terrible enough a person would rather be living on a tighter budget than to continue with a few luxuries in their life only to spend half of it in a place they dislike immensely. So much of our society supports moving ahead financially before taking the time to discover what truly is the right job for someone. But there is also the nagging issue of having to make enough money to eat and have shelter. I just couldn’t do it anymore, my soul was literally disappearing until mid-weekend and then like you said Sunday night would come and I would spiral downward to emptiness and dread.
Thanks Patty! Congratulations on being able to leave your job. Sweet freedom!! :)
I totally agree with you on what you said about giving up a few luxuries. Happiness is something that you can’t put a price tag on. Sometimes moving on from a soul sucking job takes a few initial sacrifices but in my opinion, is totally worth it.
Kelly, I really love this post. The whole focus on self-care and personal understanding is so huge.
Thanks Kevin! :)
Thank you for sharing your courageous story,
My story is similar to yours in some way – I had been feeling so crushed and drained my job for years then finally 5 years ago, I wrote a resignation letter to spur me on whilst trying to apply for new job – The trouble is I wasn’t getting anywhere with applications; my job is draining my energy, has crushed my spirit and has destroyed my confidence and left me a wreck. I feel so stuck and afraid. I wish I had the courage you had.