I work in an oppressive environment where critical thinking, creativity and healthy boundaries are not valued one iota. In many other ways, it’s a good job. The work itself aligns with my skill set, I enjoy my colleagues and have been with this employer long enough to have collected significant vacation time. But we have a new boss who is even more controlling, angry, oppressive and tyrannical than our three previous bosses. I don’t think I can take much more of his micro-managing, but I don’t see any options for myself outside of this office. I have tried over the years to find another job but have had no luck. I have no idea where to turn (I am single and my parents are deceased. I have no siblings and few real friends). I hope you can give me some advice.
You sound depressed, and that’s understandable. It appears that you are experiencing employment as indentured servitude instead of as an opportunity to contribute your talents to a living-giving enterprise. I don’t know why. I do know that being a wage slave breaks a person’s spirit. That is especially true for creative people skilled at thinking through a problem and arriving at a unique and clear-minded insight or solution. Given your feelings and your circumstances, can you think of yourself as having a j-o-b, instead of a career or vocation? A job provides a paycheck and camaraderie but does not offer opportunities for advancement. Jobs don’t usually engage our passions, either. A job is simply necessary work that allows us to earn necessary income.
Reframing your employer’s role in your life allows you to invest less of your hopes, dreams and expectations into the workday. In the meantime you can continue to seek more meaningful work in a company that values its employees and behaves accordingly.
Here’s another option: If you can’t find a position within a company where you would enjoy working, create something fresh that feeds you. Pour your creativity and critical thinking skills into a sideline business that could eventually become your exit ticket. The process of exploring this possibility will reveal strengths you might not realize you own. Seeing yourself differently will inoculate you against your employer’s inability to respect you and your co-workers. And, yes, that would be a well-earned bonus.
I tend to get sad when I listen to co-workers and friends going on about their happy coupled lives. I don’t want what they have, but I feel badly anyway. I know I can’t ask them to stop talking about things that are important to them. What advice can you offer about how to embrace being single without being ashamed of it?
Date yourself. On Friday and Saturday nights, take yourself out to a film, play, or a romantic dinner for one. Plan a dream vacation and go solo. Enjoy long walks with your cell phone turned off. Don’t listen to music either. Immerse yourself in the sound of reality. Meditate. Contemplate. Journal. The more often you practice silence and solitude, the more pleasure you will discover in the single life. And please consider clipping the branches of your belief system that lie to you. It’s not true that the single life is shameful or that being coupled is living right. The single life and the married life are simply different lifestyles, both featuring an equal number of challenges and blessings. Few people are comfortable enough in their own skin to enjoy the single life. Their personal discomfort compels them to disparage things they don’t understand or can’t handle. When you cling to shame or embarrassment, you avoid evolution. So, step away from the mainstream to live, and love, fully.