I don’t know if it is the current economy, the stress of a young career, or just the general everyday existence working in an office environment, but I imagine that we have all had job paranoia on some level. It is common and perhaps even expected.
I’ve had job paranoia in every job that I have ever held. Now, with each job that paranoia differs. For some jobs it is merely the ‘new job’ paranoia. In this variety the stress takes over for the first few days to first few weeks of the job. Then as I realize that I do in fact know what I am doing the fear subsides. This paranoia I imagine is the most common. Who doesn’t get a case of the first day jitters? Who doesn’t hear that little voice saying, ‘You can’t hack it?’ In most cases, I imagine that this voice fades away. You can only hold a job for so long before those words lose all credibility.
And then there is the promotional anxiety. This is the anxiety of those of us who manage past those first few weeks only to slip into the spotlight. The boss notices you and your responsibilities increase (with or without a promotion). Soon that nagging voice returns. ‘You’re not good enough! They’re watching you, now!’ The paranoia mounts. Obviously underneath the watchful gaze of your superiors, under increasing amounts of responsibilities, you are bound to slip. This, like the new job paranoia, dissipates after a few weeks. At least that is the way for me.
These first two varieties of job paranoia are merely derivatives of ‘first day of school jitters’ now evolved into the workplace. They originate from deep in childhood, perhaps, and evenings spent awake, nauseous and nervous, knowing that the next day you would catch that long bus ride to school and begin again with months of tests, homework, schoolyard bullies, and general childhood awkwardness.
But then there is the ‘bad job’ paranoia. This is not tied to the beginning of a job or promotion. It is not tied to general anxieties of performance or capability. Bad job paranoia is the well-deserved paranoia of everyone working within a claustrophobic and unhealthy work environment. The paranoia that says ‘one mistake and you’re fired! You’ll never work again! You loser!’ The voice typically continues to berate you from 9-5, and likely haunts you in your dreams. This paranoia is usually justified as the employer is likely certifiably insane and ready to fire you for the slightest misstep. It has for me, luckily been a rarely experienced variety of job paranoia.
For Brandon, however… well, I cannot explain his paranoia. This is pure Brandon. Is the fear honest or exaggerated? Is it justified or created by an overactive and particularly pessimistic imagination? I don’t have the answers. I like to believe that it is exaggerated for a comic effect, yet who is to say for sure… Our friend John, however, posed the best response to Brandon’s job woes. After hearing tales of their days working together, this comic is how I imagine their typical workday
When we’re children our teachers ask us what we want to be when we grow up. Kids say things like astronauts, not really knowing there are only about 300 of those in the entire country. So if the kid wants any chance at getting to see outer space, they have to study really hard, get a degree in science or math, spend 1000 or so hours flying a jet, and have near perfect physical health and vision. Or they can huff a bunch of spray paint.
“The Daily Grind” as it’s called. Whatever the task, “Grind” undoubtedly denotes burdensome physical labor. However, the grind is usually folding shirts, taking pictures, or being on a phone all day telling different people how to hook up a router. If you have a 9-5 job, you’re socially obligated to complain about it. A lot of 9-5 jobs demand that their applicants have at least 3 to 5 years of complaining about a previous 9-5 job, and the ability to frequently minimize and maximize windows to appear busy. The only amount of complaining that stands to supersede the complaining found with a 9-5 job is the complaining from not having a 9-5 job. So, no matter how much we don’t like our 9-5 job, we’re usually terrified of losing it.
These jobs are usually not what anybody would ideally be doing with their time, and certainly not that thing we told our teacher we would be as a child. The 9-5 is there for rent. For heat. For the Pringles contribution to the Saturday cookout. For that car trip up the coast, the late birthday gift for a sibling, for going to the dentist. It’s for replacing the belts on both your car and waist, and making sure the water you drink is filtered. Most importantly, the 9-5 job pays the monthly cable bill, to make sure that, even if you don’t ever get to go to outer space, you can see it on TV.