Happiness should come before work

Happiness should come before work

Jessica Parsons

Imagine this: you work at a call center allowing you to work from home. You’re making $15 an hour, averaging 20 hours a week. Before taxes, you bring in $1200—and rent is $500—a month. You’re a full-time student and have one year left before graduation. Life seems pretty sweet.

It’s your third year working there. You’re used to protocol and built a routine. It’s always the same; taking the same route after class, you race home to make it online in time, sit down for the rest of the day, ready to answer calls you can predict ahead of time. Your stomach grumbles because the last time you ate was that morning before class, hours ago. You don’t have time to make a meal and the only thing accessible is junk food.

It’s about 3 p.m., the peak of the day. The queue is growing—30…40…50. There’s a 25-minute wait time. You can get up and go to the bathroom, but you have to make it quick and be ready to sit down and talk to people that only care about themselves and the reason they’re calling.

But they don’t understand. You try to explain to them, “Ma’am, that’s not how the system works. I ca—” Beep. They hang up.

You open Slack, ready to check past messages and read complaints from co-workers while another call buzzes in your ear, the same one you now hear in your sleep. You only have 30 seconds before your intro, but you quickly chew a bite you knew you shouldn’t have taken so you try not to choke. You answer a call and say your intro, the same one you’ve been saying for years. What does it even mean anymore?

After the call, you slip into unavailable status, but any longer than five minutes and you’re called out. But you need to work on a project you were just given. So you take your time, paying close attention to detail to prevent future reprimanding.

This time, you’re not quite sure what to do, but you’re afraid to ask a question, for fear of sounding stupid. Everyone can see it, but then maybe they’ll learn too. You decide to ask.

You don’t receive a response until 10 minutes after, but it doesn’t quite answer your question. Instead, the team lead points out what you should have done or where you should have looked, but you’re still confused. Now you’re embarrassed.

Another responder chimes in, but she’s a vet just like you. Since she’s been there for a few months longer than you, she probably knows more. Remember the girl that harassed you in the office before leaving remote? She’s back.

You can’t decide if she’s trying to help or just make fun of you, but you assume it’s the latter because back in the office days, the scoffing and whispering from behind the cubicles come back to mind. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it because she’s got favoritism on her side. So you let it slide.

It’s 8 p.m. when your shift ends. You still have to eat dinner and do homework, but you’re too exhausted at the fact it’s only Monday and you have the same thing to look forward to tomorrow, so you fall asleep.

This is my situation on a daily basis. Except, I lied; I only work 18.5 hours a week. I’ve been battling the question, “Is money reason enough to stay at a job that is mentally deteriorating?” When do we decide when it’s time to let go?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the opportunity I have working remote; I don’t have to drive anywhere, I have the pleasure to work from my bed if I so choose and I can go to work in my pajamas and they’ll never know.

I know there are a lot of crummy jobs out there we all need to push through, but when is it time to move on, especially if the work environment includes harassment? What if the time you spent working just to make money is wasted when you could have been investing in the things and hobbies you love—especially one that has the potential to make you money?

If you work a job that has you feeling it isn’t worth the toll it takes on your mental health, ask yourself why you’re still there. And if the only answer you can think of is money, leave.