Some people apply for and win a job, only to find a short time into the role there’s a voice inside that says, “Well, this is it. This is what my education and experience has brought me to unless I make another change”. These are not words of comfort. These are words expressing dissatisfaction, perhaps bitterness and resentment.
One wonders then why someone would even apply and further accept, a position which was far below what they want; far below what they would otherwise consider. Maybe if you’re identifying with this situation, you’re reflecting back yourself at this very moment on a time in your own life when you took a job that if truth be told, you felt beneath you. You know your reasons at the time.
It’s fair to say that the reasons behind making such a move must be powerful enough or otherwise no one would do so. I’ve met more people than you might guess who have done exactly this; taken a job and worked in it for a time when it’s not made use of their full set of skills and not brought them happiness or fulfillment.
Sometimes it’s a case of having exhausted all their savings and needing a job to survive. Sometimes it’s an older worker in their late 50’s or early 60’s who has been rejected over and over again; their self-confidence obliterated and yet still feeling the need to contribute. In other words, desperation sometimes can cause us to make decisions and do things we would never have thought possible of ourselves.
So yes, you might be a well-educated person with some impressive work history on your resume, finding yourself in an entry-level position making minimum wage, all the while answering to a Supervisor who has another couple of month’s to go before getting their high school diploma. That voice inside has verbalized more than once, “This is it? This is where we are?”
You can have many reactions to the voice in your head. You can accept the voice as a truth and agree that yes, this is where you’ve landed. But even then, you can continue with, “This is where I belong and I’m here forever”, or “This is where I am but this is only the first of many steps I’ll be taking on my way back up.”
This shouldn’t be confused with the person who reinvents themselves and moves from success in one industry to rock bottom in another but gains joy in the new job. A Business Executive might chuck it all for a potters wheel, but they might have made this move by calculation and design. I’m looking more at the person who has lost it all; who never thought they’d be where they are today and is struggling with their self-perception, their mental health and their self-worth.
When you’re in that dark and lowly place, then suddenly find yourself employed on the bottom rung of a footstool rather than a long ladder with no prospects of advancing anywhere soon, that voice in your head will likely start whispering.
Take heart my reader. You remain, as you always have been, a person of worth. Sometimes, in order to be reshaped and repurposed, people – as well as things – are broken down and remade. You may yet be destined to do things from which you’ll take great pride and personal satisfaction. You, who may have measured yourself and others primarily by job title and salary, are in a period of flux; change. It’s unsettling, disruptive, chaotic and turbulent and at the same time an unwanted period of long, drawn out days with little to do.
And then along comes this job you’ve successfully obtained. It doesn’t compensate you as jobs have in the past. It doesn’t tap into your rich and diverse skills. It does fulfill your most immediate needs for the present however. It gives you a purpose, a place to be with expectations of performance. It puts you back on a clock and in a routine. It forces some new thought patterns in your brain, it stimulates thinking and reintegrates people to your daily life. And yes, it does provide some compensation, giving you perhaps a whole new appreciation for jobs and the people in them that you previously took for granted.
You may find your mental health somewhat improved and your self-worth slowly rebuilding. Gratitude might be coming to mean so much more to you than in times past, and if there are people standing with you to help you through this low point in your life, you might find yourself humble enough to tell them just how much they mean to you. You might be emotionally charged and quick to tears.
You can be sure I’m recalling the stories, faces and anguish of many people over the years I’ve met and worked with in the lowest parts of their lives as I write this. But take heart and have hope! Yesterday I received a short note of thanks from just such a person. In 3 short years, he’s resurrected a career, paid off school and car loans and is saving $2,000 a month. Wow!
Yes, there is hope. You are deserving of happiness and fulfillment. You are so much more than the person that voice would have you believe.