Is this real life?
April 2, 2013 7:00 AM Subscribe
About 6 or 7 months ago, I started my first post-academic job in a corporate environment. (I had been an adjunct.) I've now reached the point where the honeymoon's over, and I'm deeply concerned that I'm unlikely to find any satisfaction in work. Am I expecting too much of my working life, or is there something more?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (30 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I was frustrated as an (humanities) adjunct because the pay was not good and, worse yet, unreliable from one semester to the next. When I first stepped out the door, I was immensely relieved to have found work, and at a company that I will admit treats me very well. I have a decent salary, good benefits, and I like the people I work with. These things are still true, but lately I've been feeling just completely dissatisfied with my working life.
I just find it very hard to care. Whenever anybody talks about working in line with the company's mission or goals, I find it hard not to roll my eyes. I work on the tasks I am assigned to but I basically go through the motions, doing what's required of me, but I don't really care about it. This is very strange for me; when I was at the university, I was a bit of a perfectionist and extremely passionate about my work and just doing a good job in general.
I'm not sure if it is the corporate environment (I cringe at half the verbs that get thrown around around the office) or what, but it's just hard to muster any enthusiasm for anything. It doesn't help that most people around me seem to be big boosters of the company at large, and deeply invested in the work they're doing. I feel like there's something wrong with me that I'm not.
When I took the job, I told myself it was fine, that no matter what I did I could just work for the weekend and pursue my other interests in the evenings and during my time off. I thought that working 9-5 would free me up to write and research topics that I wanted to write and research about, without worrying about how they'd look on an academic job application or on my CV, or even whether they'd get published anywhere beyond my blog. I've found that to be very difficult to do, though--I just don't really have the energy for it. I just want to come home on and turn off and watch TV.
I appreciate and rely on the salary and benefits. Having steady employment like this helped me and my family get on with our lives in a way we weren't able to do when I was on the adjunct merry-go-round. And it is by no means a bad job. Not at all. As I said, I like the people I work with, my salary is reasonable, I get good benefits. But that almost makes my frustration worse. I'm honestly a bit scared that this is all there is: that this is just what the real world is like, and I should just deal with it. That sounds horrible.
I guess my question is: is this normal? Is this what life post-university is like? Should I just try to figure out a way to deal with it, or what? Did I just choose the wrong path, or is this just what the path is like?