Put in my notice. Shut off my computer and phone for good. Quit. Leave, a la Peggy Olson.
And yet despite the overwhelming temptation to pack it in, here I am, still employed.
Don't get me wrong: I still feel bored most days, disengaged, and underutilized. I still get the sense that nobody above me has ever looked at my resume or ever will and therefore doesn't quite know what I can bring to the table. Not sure they care. This is still not my dream job (do those even exist, actually?) But for now - not necessarily forever! - I'm staying put. Here's why:
1. Limited job prospects
Currently, there's nothing else in my smallish town that (a) I'm qualified for, (b) pays a worthwhile salary, and (c) doesn't involve sales or customer service. I've been stalking job sites for weeks and despite the supposedly low unemployment rate, there's just NOT a lot out there beyond minimum wage positions. If I were to find a lower-paying job that made me jump out of bed with excitement every morning, sure, I'd take the salary cut. But to earn less money for some tepid gig that isn't going to get me anywhere in the long run? Nah.
I'll keep looking, but it's clear that if making the move to a different company is the answer, it's going to take a while. And I'm going to be picky.
2. We're on an upward financial trajectory for the first time in... ever
I've never been the kind of person who does anything just for money, and yet now I'm sticking around mostly because I enjoy my paycheck, my 401k, and my HSA match. All of these things have given us a level of financial security that we haven't experienced in years. Our savings account is growing, our debt is diminishing, and I don't worry about being bankrupted by a medical emergency. For now, it's worth it. Even on the days when I want to scream every few minutes.
3. I got a raise!
I actually found out about this after I started writing this post. I knew that my company was making compensation adjustments, but I had no idea if I'd receive one given that I haven't been in my position for long. Skeptic that I am, I was prepared for disappointment. Then, earlier this week, I received an email announcing that I'll receive a modest raise, effective immediately, and that I'm on track for an in-line promotion within the next year.
What most pleases me about the raise is that I didn't have to beg for it. It just happened. My company seems to understand that increasing compensation is a great way to retain good employees (which I am; I know I complain, but I work hard and have high expectations of myself). That's something I didn't experience in previous workplaces.
(In my last job, nobody in the office had received a raise in four years. In the job before that, the organization pushed back against demands for higher pay for months before unsuccessfully trying to shut down complaints with a $200 holiday bonus. Lesson learned: few things damage employee morale more than stagnant compensation.)
4. These student loans have got to go
Epiphany as of last week: at the moment, I care more about eliminating my student loan debt than I do about job hunting. My calculations show that I should be able to pay off my loan by February. That's so far away! But... it's so close! Unless something completely intolerable transpires at work between now and then, this goal alone should be enough to make me hang in there even when I really want to quit. I mean, ideally I'll be able to keep going longer than that, but February represents the first goalpost here.
5. I need to demonstrate that I'm not a serial job hopper.
I've changed jobs three times in four years. I lasted in my last job for 11 months, and I've been at this one for about nine. I worry that if I continue with this pattern of short-term employment, my resume will start to raise red flags and end up in the "no" pile without a second glance, regardless of how qualified I might be. Begrudgingly, I'll admit that if I want to shift gears at some point, sticking around here for a while longer will probably be beneficial.
6. I'm still sleeping at night.
My last job (you can read about it here) was so stressful that I developed an intractable case of insomnia. I'd regularly go in to work after having slept only a couple of hours. I blazed through my sick time and vacation days within a month and had to start taking leave without pay. When I finally dragged myself to the doctor, she prescribed sleeping pills and advised that I quit my job immediately.
In retrospect, I should have quit long before I did. I stuck it out because I was afraid to be unemployed without another job lined up and because I wasn't thinking clearly about my health and well-being.
On the up side, now I know: if it ever gets that bad again, I'll follow Xennial Blogger's lead, put my own well-being first, and peace out. But in actuality, it hasn't gotten that bad. Nowhere close to it. Sure, I have bad days. Sure, I cry at my desk (less so now). But I sleep just fine and I'm healthy and functional, signs that even though I don't love this job, it's not completely toxic.
7. Maybe I can learn to deal?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some techniques I'm going to use to make this job more tolerable. So far I've tried power posing, meditating, and watching motivational TED talks. I don't know whether it's the techniques themselves that are making a difference or simply the fact that I'm doing something that I have some control over, but I do get the sense that it's actually working. Especially the power posing. Like, it doesn't seem as though standing in front of my mirror and assuming a Wonder Woman stance should have any effect, and yet every time I do it I have better, more articulate interactions with people, including my supervisor. I even feel more confident about how I'm using my time.
Of course, I reserve the right to retract every single word of this if the shit hits the fan next week and I can't take it anymore. But for now, I'm sticking it out.