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I Am Not the Worker I Was 10 Years Ago

Updated on March 13, 2015
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing for HubPages for over 5 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

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Before the Recession

I remember the glory days of office work. Fun terms like "climbing the corporate ladder" was something we were all told to embrace; and embrace it I did! I worked a lot and cared about the work I did. I was happy to organize after-work activities, network with others, and bend over backwards to make sure the job got done. What did I get for all that work? Not much.

The quality of my life did not get better. My job did not really get better. I was not happier or wealthier. Instead, I was asked to give more and more, but with little or no appreciation. None of that seemed too bad though at the time; just keep pushing ahead and it will pay off.

I will say it was a nice time to work since you could actually do the job of one person. Bosses were pretty content with having a number of employees to make sure the job got done. Multi-tasking was a popular term, but boy, I did not even realize what multi-tasking was back then!

This Is Me Now

Lately I have been making a lot of poor career choices. Funny thing is, I really don't care that much. I am comfortable in my decision to no longer be the worker I once was. When I look back at the worker I was 20 years ago, I can safely say I became a better worker over the years because I had a lot of learning to do. I worked to improve for many years.

Over time, education and experience made me a better worker. The worker I was 10 years ago was a good worker. A worker with a college degree and a desire to achieve. I was at my peak. It felt like I could do no wrong and I could pretty much have any job I wanted.

Since then, I have let a lot of that go. Now I am a mediocre worker. I've felt myself slipping for a few years now, and damn it, I am fine with it. I've become disillusioned by the system I once embraced.

I know what you are thinking, "What a terrible worker!" Nah, I am really not that bad. I show up and do the job. I willingly agree to take on some extra projects from time to time. I still know how to play the game. I care about deadlines... but I don't care too much anymore. Let me explain my reasons.

The Recession

The recession hit and everything changed for all of us. Multi-tasking no longer meant you were taking a phone call while running a report. Post-recession multi-tasking means you take a phone call while running a report, while typing a document, and checking the company's credit card online to figure out a mystery expense. Multi-tasking now means you alone are doing the work that was once handled by 3 people, because the company can no longer afford to employ that many people. You are supposedly the "lucky" one because you still have a job.

This, my friend, is exactly why I can't be the same worker I was 10 years ago. I saw a lot of good people get laid off. The people that got laid off were typically from departments the company thought they could dispose of... only to figure out a few months later they needed them. Instead of replacements, work got outsourced to people that have no understanding of your company. If not outsourced, the work was often handed to the "lucky" workers left behind... workers that never wanted or understood those jobs in the first place, but were told if they wanted to keep their jobs, they'd take those extra tasks and smile like they were happy about it. I honestly don't blame companies for being forced to cut corners just to stay afloat. However, there has to be some understanding that employees won't necessarily feel a real enthusiasm for this type of reality either.

I am tired. In all honesty, I am just tired in general. Maybe it is because I've been sick for weeks but can't afford the high deductibles or co-pays I deal with now because insurance companies are lacking in a major way now, too. Health insurance used to mean you were covered. Every now and then, you had to pay out of pocket, but not like how it is now. Workers with health insurance have to fork out so much of their own money now, it almost doesn't seem worth it. So yeah, I am tired. Perhaps a little bitter, too. But maybe that is just the Gen X part of me talking.

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Other Stuff

So you may not realize this, but there is this whole other world out there that has nothing to do with work. I find in the U.S. we tend to care too much about "careers" and other crap that is not important. The first thing we ask each other is, "What do you do?" From now on, my answer is going to be something like, "I write, make soy candles, sing when I think no one is listening, look longingly at every adorable little animal in pet stores, and enjoy eating cupcakes." A career? I don't focus on that anymore. I have things that make me happy... a fiancé and a dog and a rather fine collection of My Little Ponies. I have an ill father and an overwhelmed mother and many concerns that have nothing to do with some silly deadline at work.

So when I get a call at work about an "emergency," I want to say, "Is your house on fire? Is there a gunman in your house?" Those are real emergencies... not the email blast that had a typo in it. So if you have an emergency, you'd better make sure it is actually a real emergency or you are getting zero sympathy from me. Furthermore, you'd better try calling 911 for the cops or firefighters, not me. Those are the real workers we can't live without.

I sometimes feel guilty that I am not the worker I used to be. I've worked for a variety of people recently; some deserve a better worker than me. If only they'd seen me back in the day, they would realize how much they are being ripped off now! But in general, I am still an alright employee that gets by. I am by far never the worst employee, which makes it OK somehow. I now simply work to live, not live to work.

I enjoy writing. I like my freelance work. As far as my job, it exhausts me. I can no longer give it my best. Does that make me a good worker? No, probably not. However, I am more interested in being a good person, a good daughter, a good best friend, a good fiancé, and soon, a good wife. My jobs in the past have allowed me to slack off in all other areas of my life. I won't be a slacker in my life anymore. For that reason, I am not the worker I was 10 years ago.


Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle

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  • Jeannieinabottle profile image
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    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you so much, lambservant. I have bounced back and forth between retail and office jobs, and both do have the good and the bad. It might be a good idea for me to find some type of work that is totally different from both, but I am not sure exactly what that is yet. Thank you for your kind words and advice. :-)

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    Jeannie, in one sense I don't want to deter you, on the other hand, I've worked at Target and grocery stores and all I can say is that the politics are there, workers, especially at target, are not highly valued. I did enjoy the grocery store, but the politics did catch up to me. What they do have to offer, depending on your position, is the opportunity to serve people face to face and I found that very gratifying. Of course you get jerky customers, but the majority so appreciate good service and those who give it. I actually had customers who asked for me specifically and I established relationships with them. I showed interest in them. I remembered their names and asked how their loved one was doing, or how they liked retirement, or how were the grandkids. That was what made my job worth it. If I can make it someone's day or make them smile, then I have done something of great value.

    Saying my prayers for you Jeanne, that God will direct your path.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image
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    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    peachpurple, thank you. I just wished writing paid a little better!

    MPG Narratives, thank you for the votes. I am happy to hear from others that are so tired of multi-tasking. I am pretty good at it up to a point. But too much is too much.

    Mark Johann, thank you. Yes, it is sad to come to the realization that someone else (probably a lot of people) are better workers than me. I am OK with it now though, so maybe that is all that matters. And yes, perhaps the spark just needs to be somewhere else now.

  • Mark Johann profile image

    Mark Johann 2 years ago from Italy

    It is sad to know there are better worker than you. But I guess the spark is still there. Know your true joy from your heart. Thanks for sharing. Interesting.

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    What a great confession Jeannie, and to be honest I would say the same thing. Work was all I focused on for so long but now I'm tired and sick of multi-tasking. I now only work part time and enjoy my free time doing what I want to do, not what I have to do. My family is more important to me than any job and I'm sure you are finding that out now as well. Voted up and interesting.

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    Glad to hear you have found a new path to yiur career, writing

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image
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    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Jodah, I know what you mean. It is hard to leave a steady job, but sometimes it is just so tempting. It is interesting to hear how many agree with me and aren't the same workers they used to be.

    bravewarrior, from now on, my career is all about writing. It is not about any other job anymore. Maybe one day I will get bored writing, but I can't imagine that. If I do, I might focus more on climbing the corporate ladder again. I somehow doubt that though.

    Nell Rose, thank you for that! You sound like you used to be like me... I keep moving from job to job but never really like the work. It is time to focus on other stuff!

    Efficient Admin, thanks so much for the votes! My hobbies bring me much more joy now (when I have time for them!) than any job.

    heidithorne, thank you for the votes! I can't believe so many people feel the same way I do. It is comforting. And true... I've probably changed the most in the last 5 years too.

    lambservant, thank you so much for your kind words. I agree a change is needed. I seem to go from one office job to another, but maybe office work is not for me! Believe it or not, I am applying at Target and grocery stores now. Even if it is not for me, it won't make me too sad if it does not work out. ;-)

    RoadMonkey, yes, climbing the corporate ladder is definitely over-rated. I am content to just be happy now.

    suzettenaples, I don't see things changing much any time soon either. I think it is good to have the office experience, but enough is enough as far as I am concerned. Been there and done that. Thank you!

    aethelthryth, I think you are right. Although I don't see being married changing my life too much, I do believe my family is more important now. Now that my days are limited with my father, I appreciate each day he is still here. Some job means nothing to me compared to that.

    Thank you everyone for all your comments and kind words! I really appreciate it.

  • aethelthryth profile image

    aethelthryth 2 years ago from American Southwest

    What I hear is that as a fiancée, almost wife, you would rather spend your energy working for your family rather than your job. If so, this is normal. I've decided that although women seem to be able to focus on a job in their twenties, there seems to be something hardwired in us by our thirties to want something to do that is really difficult and really meaningful and is long-term. Few careers really fit that. Missions work or throwing themselves some other cause (or maybe just their pets) fills that void for some women. Conveniently for you, marriage and children fit that job description really well, and I hope you will find marriage, as I have found it, to be much more interesting than a career.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

    What an honest piece of writing. I don't blame you for how you feel. Americans put too much focus on careers and work and not enough on the art of living. If workers were not stretched so thin, perhaps this country would be better than mediocre, but until companies appreciate their workers and the work they do, I don't see much changing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Bravo!

  • RoadMonkey profile image

    RoadMonkey 2 years ago

    Fantastic hub. It's a lie that we HAVE TO climb the corporate ladder. Much better to do what makes you happy, provided you have enough income coming in to live on.

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    Well, what an honest and raw confession. I remember feeling this way five years ago at a job I had held for three years. The multi tasking, like you said, became doing the work of two or three people. They were adding duties by the day, changing procedures by the day, cutting hours, and cutting staff. And their attitude toward their workers who slave for them, was "These guys are our slaves and they have no reason to complain or thing we are unreasonable. When something went wrong, it was our fault because we were poor workers. 99 % of the time it was because there was not enough people to do the work they kept increasing.

    What I hear in you, Jeannie, is discouragement. I remember that feeling so well. I got involved in a line of work where my true gifts could shine and I had more freedom. Perhaps it's time for a change Jeannie. Just a thought. Love and prayers darlin'.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

    I am definitely not the same "worker" or "businessperson" was I 10 years ago... even 5 years ago. But that, as it appears you agree, is just fine. Voted up, interesting and sharing!

  • Efficient Admin profile image

    Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

    OMG I could have written this hub myself. You took the words right out of my mouth. It is an indication that the company I work for is not the only one loading employees with extra workload after a layoff. The admins are now doing accounting work and...you guessed it...we do not get raises every year like we did 10 years ago. I do not stretch my neck anymore like I used to. I am tired and my hobbies outside of work bring me joy, not the cubicle. Great hub -- voted up and across (except for funny)

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

    Hi, I totally agree with you! I feel exactly the same way! I used to go from one job to another, work my way up in the office, sit through hours of corporate rubbish, listening to stupid video conferences about how wonderful Ford Cars are, and so on, never again! Now I write, and do other things, there is a big wide world out there, voted up and shared, nell

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

    Excellent post, Jeannie. Employers definitely take advantage of their employees these days. They do the work of three people and are compensated for one. That's enough to kill motivation right there.

    I'm glad that you've decided to work to live, not live to work. There's so much more to life. Sadly, people get so wrapped up in their careers, they forget that fact.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Good honest hub here Jeannie. Not many of us are the workers we were 10 year ago. You work hard for someone else and often don't get the credit you deserve, but it's not always easy to leave a steady job even if it isn't satisfying. I am much happier now even though I am not as comfortable financially as I once was.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image
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    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    FlourishAnyway, thanks so much! I am glad you agree with me and thank you for sharing.

    Bill, you are living my dream and I hope to be there soon with you. Each day I get a little closer. Thank you!

    Grant's World, I've been there before, too. When you are too good at a job, no one ever sees you as anything else. Good for you taking classes and getting out of that position. Thanks for sharing and best of luck to you!

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 2 years ago from Canada

    Kudos on this excellent article. I am living in the same mindset as you. I have been at the same employer for 26 years this summer and I have had enough of the corporate crap. I used to bust my butt for nothing extra in the hopes it would help me excel in the government division I work in. All it did was ensure my manager or director didn't want to move me up the ladder because I am so good at my job. So now I just do my job and don't care about a lot of the other stuff. I don't do anything extra unless there is extra money for me.

    I am currently taking classes so I can change my career path even at my ripe old age of 50. I will be out of there by summer of 2016 :)

    I am sharing and tweeting this article.

    Cheers.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I love your honesty here, Jeannie. I readily admit I'm not the worker I was ten years ago, and I'm proud of it. I've made choices, in fact, that mean I will never have to be that worker again. I love working for myself and not answering to anyone else, and that's how I'll live my life from now on. You go, girl!!!!!!!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

    Amen. I am glad you spoke the simple truth. Voted up and more and sharing.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image
    Author

    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks so much, Brie!

  • Brie Hoffman profile image

    Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan

    Sounds like you have your priorities in order!