The excitement of a new job is unparalleled. Then one day you get to work, and the office coffee isn’t quite as hot. Your boss doesn’t seem so considerate, and you realize the funny guy in the department actually and truly laughs like a hyena. Each morning, you wake up less eager to pick out the perfect outfit for your brand-spanking-new career because it starts to feel more and more like… well, a job. What do you do? Do you change positions? Or do you change your attitude?
I faced this dilemma with my first job out of college, which I not so affectionately referred to as #MadMenLife, on Twitter and in person, to anyone who would listen. “Think of Mad Men, but without any of the cool, sexy parts,” is how I would describe it. To be fair, that’s a pretty realistic description of what it was. Within about a month, my excitement from my first “big girl job” dwindled to mild enthusiasm. Is this the right fit for me? I asked myself that question over and over, knowing full well the answer.
Of course, I was excited to move on, but had I quit my job on day 30 or even day 300, I wouldn’t have learned half the lessons I did through the whole experience.
Another month went by, and I was positive of it — this job wasn’t for me, and I deserved something better. After all, I had gone to college, paid a hefty tuition and done the hard work. Where was the reward of that dream job they said I’d find?
[![2013-11-110033](https://yellow-blog-images.imgix.net/2016/05/2013-11-11_0033.jpg)](https://yellow-blog-images.imgix.net/2016/05/2013-11-11_0033.jpg)Major spoilers here: I ended up sticking with the “Mad Men life” for a year and a half before moving on to another position. Of course, I was excited to move on, but had I quit my job on day 30 or even day 300, I wouldn’t have learned half the lessons I did through the whole experience. While I hoped to find a job that required—no—_demanded I buy those Editor pants Express is always selling, the reality of my daily life was a bit more mundane, yet still valuable. I worked for a small company, so I was able to get my feet wet in design, copywriting, managing client relationships, and even video production — all of which have benefited me since. I learned how to communicate with a boss and coworkers, laughing-hyena quirks and all. More than anything, I realized that there’s value to sticking with something when you feel like giving up.
Since that experience, I’ve tried to remind myself not to give up on a job or feel entitled to move on when something doesn’t go my way. The fact of the matter is things won’t always go my way, and I have to be willing to grow through those experiences. I believe it’s written on a poster in fifth grade classrooms, which validates its truth — you can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude.
There is a time to leave a job, but it’s not always the time you might think.
It’s not the day you decide you don’t like it. It’s the day you realize you’ve given it your all, learned everything you can from it, and have found a better opportunity to pour your hard work into.
Of course, it’s important to ask yourself what your dream job is, and having career goals is absolutely necessary to make progress. Looking back on that first job out of college, though, I wish I had spent more time eager to learn instead of just feeling eager to move on. Hold onto your dreams tightly enough so you don’t lose sight of them, but loosely enough to value the progress you’re making as you grit through a position that might not be ideal.
Every job in the world will carry its own set of problems and frustrations, so do what you can to have a positive attitude and view your challenges through bright, optimistic eyes. Make the best of every situation. At the end of the day, if your position isn’t a stepping stone into that dream career, sure, consider leaving. But always consider whether you need a change in attitude before a change of setting.
Photos by Whitney Schey