You’re allowed to have sad feelings toward work

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  • Why you’re still being told to love your work by people who don’t even know what “work” means for you

We haven’t learned anything since Kim Kardashian was castigated last year for saying “It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” Not one bit about why our lives should not revolve around work and getting ahead despite having coined the word “quiet quitting” last year and mounting evidence that the pandemic has worsened workplace stress and consequently burnout. 

[READ: ‘Quiet quitting’ isn’t the bad guy. Hear these employees out]

Vlogger and social media star Mimiyuuuh continues to force us to get up and work our asses every Monday, not unlike Kim. Veiled as a motivational video shot from the comfort of her house, this message is amplified by her circle of friends, fellow influencers and celebrities, seemingly unaware that not all people who watch this can and want to do just that (work) given not everyone’s circumstances are the same.

Just in time for the new year, Mimiyuuuh recently uploaded a new Monday motivation video (although the first work day of the year was a Tuesday). In the first few seconds, it seems like she has finally gotten the message that not all people want to work. She suggests resignation. 

“Oh, ayaw mo na sa work mo? Madali lang solusyon dyan,” she says. “Alam mo ano? [Mag-]resign ka, tanga.” (Oh, you don’t like your work now? There’s an easy remedy to that, you know? Resign.) There’s a lot of work and opportunities to be had anyway, she continues. 

It may seem like now she supports stepping out of the hamster wheel, hence the suggestion to resign, but then she goes, “This year is all about upgrade,” implying that she is still very much on the grind agenda. She proceeds to insinuate that the audience has a shopping problem and bills to pay, and hence needs to still work even as they plan to change ships. “Work tayo opo, work tayo—tapos resign.” (Let’s work—and then resign.)

Another personality (derogatory, comes with implied privilege and a hint of being out of touch) who wants to remind you to work especially as we enter another year is Donnalyn Bartolome. The vlogger took to Facebook to express how she’s “feeling lucky” to return to work and advises her followers against being sad that work resumes this week. Instead, she says, we should be grateful because having a job is a “blessing.”

“Bakit may sad dahil back to work na? Diba dapat masaya ka kasi may chance ka na pagandahin buhay mo at ng pamilya? Trip ko pa nga may work ng January 1 dahil superstition ko may work ako buong taon pag ganun. Dapat grateful kasi may work,” she said. 

(Why are you feeling sad about going back to work? Shouldn’t you be happy because you have another chance to improve your own life, as well as your family? For me, I prefer working on January 1 since I adhere to the superstitious belief that I’ll be working for the whole year anyway. You should be grateful for having work.) 

The working-class people in the comments didn’t like how this sounded (reeks of privilege and toxic positivity). Users pointed out that going back to work entails going back to the reality of a hellish commute. Plus, not all workers have it easy as her. One commenter said if they had her job as a vlogger, they too would not be sad. Reductive, but a valid comparison say, if you have a laborer job that requires more of you physically and yet pays less than what an influencer might earn from a sponsored or monetized video.

[READ: What’s so toxic about toxic positivity?]

And if anything, as few comments express, most are sad about the resumption of work because it means being away from loved ones they spent most of the holiday break with, not really because they despise their professions or working in general.

But other than the obvious assumption that everyone has jobs to return to in the first place (over two million Filipinos are unemployed as of October 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority), Bartolome’s argument still puts a premium on hustle culture, invalidating worker’s need to rest and ponder upon their own relationship with work, which has deeply changed over the last few years.

Some find success, meaning, or even purpose in dedicating themselves to their profession, and some clock in and out every day unattached. That’s fine, too. To each their own relationship with work. 

The rise of “quiet quitting” alone indicates employees’ changing mindsets about work. For some, it’s no longer the center of our lives or our raison d’etre. Some have since quit wanting to be on top of the corporate ladder, realizing how futile it is as an effort or how much we are required to sacrifice along the way (sanity, time, relationships) for minimal gains. To add to that, salaries haven’t really caught up with the rising cost of living. Whatever gains we get from salary raises are soon eaten up by rising prices of goods, rent, utility bills, and taxes.

But that doesn’t mean all of us don’t want to work or excel in our fields anymore. We still wake up and get ourselves to our workplaces every day (or certain times a week) for reasons different from but just as valid as everyone else’s. 

We work to sustain ourselves and others (family, for example), to improve our skills, and/or to find our place in the greater picture of society (to contribute taxes and to contribute to society building). Some find success, meaning, or even purpose in dedicating themselves to their profession, and some clock in and out every day unattached. That’s fine, too. To each their own relationship with work. 

While it is valid to think of work as a means to live, as both Mimiyuuuh and Bartolome posited, having negative connotations of or even ambivalent feelings about and keeping a safe distance from our professional selves is also just as valid. What’s not is mocking people for taking it slow or being in their feelings in the first working week of the year.

You are allowed to be sad about work and you can take it day by day without a rush. It is your experience. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel or how fast you should reacclimate. Come to work and do your job at your own pace.

Or don’t.

Nolisoli.ph © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.

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