Over the past 12 years at my place of business, I have had 5 jobs in 4 different offices. All of them had one thing in common - between 50 and 75% of each job sucked, was soul-crushing, etc. My jobs have much in common with the rest of the world, actually. From having co-workers belittle me and my work, either very loudly or extremely quietly, to having the role of "usher", escorting people to and fro, to running around chasing down money for already overpaid people and working in very much a domestic capacity.
When I first came to this place, it was hard for me to imagine being one of the same unhappy working lackeys that surrounded me, the elders insisting that I would become just like them and retire from here. "Resign yourself to that." The thought sent chills down my spine. I don't like the word "resignation", as in "resign yourself to..." It implies defeat. I've heard that I can't leave because I am "institutionalized". I associate that word with prison. I knew what my co-worker meant when she said that - I am too used the salary/benefits/pension plan - but still.
Everyone you work with is stressed out and dissatisfied in one way or the other. Everyone gets pissed off. This anger, frayed nerves, etc., has varying degrees of severity. I have been in offices where it is just unbearable. Even when you think you're doing something innocuous, you get yelled at.
You start being late for work. Who on earth would want to get out of bed, way too early, to deal with that? And if you feel like you are going nowhere, it gets even worse. You start calling in sick - it becomes your first thought of the day.
I used to be a much more negative person than I am now. I used to smile a lot less. I think I've made good progress on that front. I've changed small things: I complain less. I have learned to be more grateful. I force myself to smile more, until smiling isn't an extra effort that I'm making - it just happens naturally. I go through my day with my hands open - a yoga teacher once told me that I should do this to accept life, good or bad. A friend once gave me solid advice - accept and strategize.
But the thing is, and this is where I've become more understanding, when these people yell at you and/or belittle you, it's not about you. Everyone has a need to prove themselves as dependable, smart, funny or what have you. Everyone wants to look good, to keep their good reputations. When they can't do this, they snap. When someone asks them to do something they really don't want to do, even though it's part of their job, they'll take it out on someone else (if you are an assistant, the unspoken part of your job description is to catch the overflow of whatever crap your boss has been given). It denotes a lack of strength on that person's part, and a lack of respect and understanding. Yet, I did that very thing today.
I snapped because I made something all about me, in my own quest to be recognized. However, that's not what matters. Are your co-workers your BFFs? No. But when a supervisor shows you that he/she is flexible, approachable and gives you praise when it is warranted, you really should not mess with that type of relationship. A friend helped me see this, and I apologized to my boss for a tone that I took with him. There is a facade you have to keep up at work, and mine cracked for a bit. My boss is really quite awesome, and for the first time in years, I feel comfortable in this office, and I like the people I work with. So what is my problem?
I say the following for myself as much as for my readers: If you are looking at a dead end at your job, if you are being harassed, if you are being blatantly disrespected, if you know you can get a better deal somewhere else, QUIT. But you have to sit down with yourself and honestly assess the situation. Are you being disrespected, or are you imagining that you're being disrespected in order to justify something?