Art featured by Jun Cen
I was very thankful that I was able to receive income despite the pandemic. I was very fortunate to have been employed. In fact, being employed was a privilege especially during a pandemic. It is terrifying to know that your livelihood could be cut off at any given moment, on top of the fear of catching the virus and the costs that follow afterwards.
Due to the heavy responsibilities some of us bear to provide for our dependents, enduring a less favourable working environment may seem better than nothing. As the saying goes, better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.
But everyone has their thresholds, and when boundaries are frequently crossed, it can result in mental health catastrophes that hinder productivity. Not only will your morale take a hit, the quality of work you produce will also deprove.
Factor in work politics and parasocial relationships with your boss and colleagues, a vicious cycle of dejection and exhaustion repeats. If you are unable to separate work from your personal life, you may run into the risk of bringing home the negativity you face at work and hurt your loved ones instead.
Stress from work impacts your physical health next. Nervous breakdowns, fevers, migraines… which affect your ability to work even more. Capitalism has made it inevitable to equate ourselves with the monetary value we bring to the table.
But when your body and mind starts to reject the work that you do, ask yourself — is your job worth sacrificing your mental and physical health for? Is it worth potentially hurting your loved ones, the ones you so work hard to provide for?
I thought long and hard before quitting my job during the pandemic. It was pivotal to step back and re-evaluate what is precious to you, what can be let go of, and what can always be recovered. Money can always be earned, but time with your loved ones is always passing.
It may not be an amount you have always dreamed of, but even the most menial jobs can open opportunities for you. Whether it be ensuring a steady income flow while you hunt for jobs, or garnering new skills, or gaining new contacts and referrals for future job prospects. As long as you feel that it is more tolerable than the current or past toxic work environment, learn to let go and venture back into your comfort zone so you can recuperate and start afresh.
Given the competitiveness of the market, the majority of working adults are overqualified and underpaid. It does not seem like the circumstances are going to improve soon, hence it is crucial to adapt and shift your prospects to industries that offer constant employment. What I mean by that is, look for industries and jobs that will always be around.
The service industry, for instance, will never die out, even with robots around, there are bound to be people controlling and maintaining them. While dealing with customers, fast working environments, and the low pay may not appear enticing to job hunters, it is a job nonetheless. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking home a lower pay, if it means you can afford food and a roof over your head.
When comparing the job that I quit from to the retail job I had a few years back, I found that I was much happier with the retail job. Even though the pay was far lower, my colleagues and boss were friendly, generous, and hospitable.
We frequently bought each other food, shared interests during our short breaks, trusted and relied on each other to run the store smoothly. We knew why we were there, and did our parts well, and helped others so that we could finish our tasks and clock out on time. We even bonded over our experiences facing difficult customers.
Our different races, nationalities, and backgrounds did not matter there. Maybe I was lucky to have had the better end of the stick when it comes to retail jobs. I sort of miss working at the store. I learned a lot while I was there, and think about the friendships I’ve made there often.
It gives me hope that I can find a similar working environment in the future. One that is far better than the one I left during the pandemic. While the future seems uncertain, I have no regrets doing so.