How to Cope with a Job You Hate (Hint: Watching Aggretsuko on Netflix Helps)
Does is seem like everyone you know hates their job? Believe it or not, the actual number is much smaller. A 2018 Gallup poll of Americans in the workplace found that only 13% of them have “miserable work experiences.” If you’re one of them, I’m sorry — and I have some thoughts on how to deal with the misery.
It’s one thing when you hate the job from day one, but sometimes the horribleness sneaks up on you. Maybe when you first signed on, you thought the job would open doors for you and boost your career, but it never happened. Maybe you thought you’d work hard and reap the rewards — money, respect, promotions — but that didn’t happen, either. Maybe you had hopes of making the world a better place, and instead, your hard work has gone almost entirely unnoticed.
When you hate your job, it sometimes feels like you’ll be stuck there forever. You drag yourself to work every day battling rush hour crowds to sit at a desk and do the same boring stuff you did the day before. Being treated like crap every day is exhausting, so how exactly are you supposed to muster the self-confidence and the energy to find a better job?
Find Inspiration in a Red Panda
If you need a fresh perspective on workplace misery, I strongly suggest that you watch Aggretsuko on Netflix. An animated show from Sanrio (the creators of Hello Kitty), the show tells the story of Retsuko, a 25-year-old red panda who works in an office. If you hate your job, Retsuko is your spirit animal. In the very first episode, when her alarm clock goes off in the morning, the first words out of her mouth are:
“Work can bite me.”
For an animated character, she’s pretty relatable.
Aggretsuko follows the red panda’s struggles to cope with her selfish boss (an actual pig), nosy coworkers, and a never-ending pile of work. It might sound like depressing material, but Retsuko doesn’t let all the bullshit get her down. Instead, she finds ways to deal with it. Her favorite coping method? Death metal karaoke.
Season 1 of Aggretsuko is available now, and Season 2 is coming in 2019. Each episode is 15 minutes long, so even if you binge-watch all ten episodes of Season 1, it’ll only take two-and-a-half hours. If that feels like too much of a commitment, start with one episode and see how it goes. If you love Retsuko as much as I do, and want more of this kick-ass little panda in your life, she also has a book called The Aggretsuko Guide to Office Life.
The book includes helpful advice like the following: “To avoid a repetitive cycle where life becomes meaningless and you lose all hope while falling into a pit of despair created by soul-sucking office jobs, make sure to take frequent breaks, set aside time to see friends (NOT colleagues) outside of work, take up a hobby, and remember who you are.”
Retsuko tries to have a positive attitude, but it’s hard when she’s under so much stress. Here are a few panda-inspired coping strategies that might work for you, too.
It Helps to Have Work Friends
Every office has its share of nightmarish coworkers, and Retsuko’s is no exception. It’s not pleasant to work with a chatty hippo who’s always spreading rumors or a dragon lady who expects you to do her extra work — but fortunately, there are a few friendly faces in the office. Have lunch with your work friends, or at the very least, make a point to chat it up with them for a few minutes during a break. It can make the whole day more pleasant. (But remember—not every work friend is a real friend. Be cautious about what you share with your coworkers.)
Find Ways to Relax Outside of Work
If you can go outside and take a short walk during your lunch break, do it. The exercise is good for you, and you’ll feel a sense of freedom just by stepping outside of the office. If you don’t have time to go out during the day, hit the gym after work or channel Retsuko and de-stress by taking a yoga class. When you’re not at the office, avoid checking your work email. Instead of thinking about work, spend time with people who make you happy.
Find a Mentor (Even if it’s Not “Official”)
Do you know someone who works in the same field as you, but has more experience? If so, ask them for advice about how to handle your job situation. Even if they’re not officially your mentor, they may have helpful input. (If you don’t have anyone in mind, check out Like A Boss Girl’s Mind of a Mentor podcast for inspiration.) It might also be helpful to talk to someone who understands the office politics at your company. As Retsuko discovers in Season 1, befriending higher-ups may bring about complications, but it could also provide you with some much-needed support.
Make an Escape Plan
If you hate your job so much you can’t bear the thought of going to the office one more time, try to resist the urge to walk out in an angry huff. Think things through before you quit, and be sure you have a realistic plan. Keep working while you put that plan into action. The next time you have a really bad day at work, remind yourself that it’s only temporary, because you will find something better.
And in the meantime, get busy finding it! Tell everyone you know (outside of work, of course) that you’re looking for new opportunities. Update your resume and cover letter. Apply at other companies. You deserve a job where you won’t be miserable, so don’t give up until you find it.
Find a Way to RAGE
When she’s at work, Retsuko appears to be a quiet, friendly employee. After hours, that calm exterior disappears. She goes straight to the karaoke club and lets out all her frustrations by scream-singing death metal songs at the top of her lungs.
Retsuko releases her rage into a karaoke mic, but it’s up to you to determine your own best way to let it out. Maybe you’d rather take a kickboxing class a few times a week, join an axe-throwing league, or lace up your skates and try roller derby.
Whatever method you choose, you’ll find that raging Restuko-style feels amazing. And who knows? Maybe someone you meet at karaoke or kickboxing will know of a job that’s perfect for you. Go on and rage your way to a brighter future.