3 Bad Reasons Why I Stayed at a Job I Hate
Hi everyone! Grizzly mom here, finally showing up after emerging from a painful three weeks locked in a conference room with other disgruntled attorneys. I will spare you the (pretty boring) details of the trial, but suffice to say that it involved many sleepless nights, dozens of cans of sugar-free Red Bull (gross but effective), and 16+ hour days.
I hate my job. I am a litigator for a big law firm, and I have been at it for almost seven years. The horrendous hours, unpredictable schedule, and time away from Grizzly Dad and Baby Bear are the chief reasons why I hate my job, but the lack of autonomy, oppressive culture, and lack of camaraderie among associates or mentorship from the partners at my firm are also major gripes of mine. Yet, I still work there. Until Grizzly Dad helped me realize that independence was a possibility, I thought that I would be stuck in this job for the next 20+ years.
The truth is, I was never actually stuck in corporate law. I just felt stuck.
I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my education.
I took on a ton of debt to go to Stanford Law School, so I felt some vague need to justify that huge expenditure. But spending my life litigating on behalf of billionaires and giant corporations at a corporate law firm is arguably not the best use of my investment in my education. And at any rate, the money that I spent on my education is long gone. No use crying over spilled milk. Time to move on.
What will people think of me?
I am an insecure, risk-averse people pleaser—a perennial good student who always did what I was told. So naturally, I chose my career path based on my need for approval. This character trait (or flaw, rather) is why I worked hard in high school to get into a “good” college, then worked hard to get into a “good” law school, and then worked hard to get into a “good” law firm, where I continue to work hard for…? Approval from other people, maybe? Social prestige? These are not legitimate reasons to work 60+ hours a week at a job that I hate. And societal approval is fleeting and vastly overrated anyway.
I need the money!
For years, I was convinced that I needed a six-figure salary to make ends meet. I know this sounds laughable and incredibly privileged. But when you live in San Francisco, New York, or another expensive city, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you “need” to make more than $100K a year. After all, renting a one-bedroom apartment easily exceeds $3500 a month in this town. Once you throw in $2,000 worth of educational debt, plus the cost of food (all those quinoa salads from Whole Foods are not cheap), you convince yourself that you need at least $100K. But the beautiful fact is – you don’t need to live in San Francisco and you don’t need to shop at Whole Foods. It takes some effort to save money, but ultimately, Whole Foods salads and San Francisco apartments are not worth slaving away in corporate law. Overcoming student debt is hard, but there are ways to refinance (as we will detail in another post).
In short, these are not good reasons to work at my job. But I imagine many of you who feel shackled to your corporate jobs probably tell yourselves the same lies to justify your long days and nights. Enough of this nonsense. Join us on our journey to save enough money to buy our freedom and free ourselves from our corporate overlords. Life is just too short.