Hated every job I've ever had – what's wrong with me?

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    Mr. Ritz

    So here I am at nearly 54 years old and looking into yet another career change (real estate this time?) Long story, but try to finish it.

    To be honest, I’ve pretty much hated every job I’ve ever had.
    Started out working for my father as a machinist. He owned his own shop and as years went by, I found myself doing more and more and even took shop classes in high school (I think just to impress dad), but never had a real interest in this type of work and my father was a difficult person.

    About a year out of high school, I found myself working for dad full time. I decided that was not what I wanted to do and joined the Air Force. The first couple years were great, being away from home, making new friends, hooking up with girls for the first time. On the other hand the work was extremely difficult and the hours were very long. I was in aircraft maintenance and they nearly worked you to death (literally in some cases. People in this career had the 2nd highest suicide rate of all service members).

    Later in my Air Force career, I was completely miserable, drinking heavily every day and wanted out. After 8 years I got my wish and returned home. (BTW, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression ever since my Air Force days.) I had no other skills for the civilian world and reverted back to being a machinist, eventually ending up back at my father’s shop again. I had gotten married shortly before leaving the service and needed to work to support the family.

    Still hating my position, I applied for jobs constantly (this was in the pre-internet days). Eventually a local RV (recreation vehicle) company took me on as a customer service/tech support person.

    At fist it was wonderful not being in the dirty shop and making more money, but after a couple years I really began to loose patience with customers and the unrelenting phone calls.

    This business closed so I ended up at another company in another customer service/tech support position. This one was even worse, and so was the drinking. 60-80 calls per day per person, and you only had 30 seconds before the phone rang again. I left every day with a pounding headache. My Dr. and councilor both advised me to quit.

    I used to pass the engineering department on the way to my cube and became curious about what they did. I took a CAD (Computer Aided Design) class and liked it. I did something radical, quit my job and went to school full time (I’m not rich….they allowed me to draw unemployment while training for a new job).

    Was hired right at the end of school and discovered in about 6 months that I didn’t like working there either. Had a super annoying co-worker that kept blasting talk radio and a new boss that I could not please no matter what I did, and the work was tedious. Was looking for another job the whole time, but the economy crashed and I was let go before I could move on.

    Took a 3 month temp job doing CAD work during that period and again, hated the co-workers. So glad when that was over.

    Next job was tech support AND CAD work. I’d been off work a long time and was in no position to be picky, however I lasted 4 years there. I think part of the benefit was the boss lived out of town and I was pretty much free to work as I pleased. Unfortunately, the pay was not good and after some co-workers left, they were not replaced and I ended up taking over their duties as well. There was one especially abusive person working there who was quite the Jeckyl and Hyde personality. When he was nice, things were cool but when he wasn’t, it was anxiety attack city.

    I left this place and went to another RV company to do drafting. From day 1 I was extremely uncomfortable there. I just did not click with the other people working there. I was 15-20 years older than most of them, no one wanted to get to know me and I didn’t really care to know them either.

    Left that company and am now at a new place as a designer. Closer to home, more money, only a handful of people work here and most all close to my age. Sounds like a winner, right?

    Wrong πŸ™

    Still get anxiety and am uncomfortable being there. One of the guys in my office is super obnoxious and annoys the shit out of me.
    The boss, even though he’s a great guy, seems unpredictable. I feel like he is expecting me to know a lot more than I do, but have only been there a couple months. I can totally see him letting me go with no warning.

    So, I started training for a real estate career. At least I won’t be trapped in a windowless office staring at a computer all day.

    I wish I was able to retire and not deal with any of this, but there are too many years yet to go.

    Writing this, I notice my problems seem to be mostly with people and lack of control in my work life.

    If you made it to the end of my long story: Can anyone think of a job I’m better suited for or at least help me manage my issues?


    Dear mr-ritz:

    A job that would suit you best, I think, would be a job where the supervisor/s is not present and where co workers are not present either, or are removed from you and there is no communication with them.

    I agree with you that your “problems seem to be mostly with people”-

    I am guessing, and please let me know if I am guessing correctly, or partially correctly, that your relationship with your difficult father, as you referred to him, and the work for/ with him in the machine shop set the stage for the later work experience (although other factors entered such as over work in the air force and too many calls per day at the other job, and having a family to support).

    Back to my guessing. You wrote: “Started out working for my father as a machinist. He owned his own shop and as years went by, I found myself doing more and more and even took shop classes in high school (I think just to impress dad), but never had a real interest in this type of work and my father was a difficult person. About a year out of high school, I found myself working for dad full time”

    What this means to me is that you really, really wanted to earn your father’s approval, so much so that as a teenager, even though you didn’t like the nature of the work and the conditions, you went as far as taking shop classes in high school and worked there for quite a long time. Unfortunately, as was always the case, you didn’t earn his approval- No Matter how Hard you Tried. And you tried hard.

    Then you went to the air force. At first it was great, freedom from the losing battle trying to get his approval. But then the other factors came in (in parenthesis above) and throughout your work history since there has been this dynamic: in the relationships with supervisors and co workers the dynamics with your father, stored and circulating in your brain in the present, were repeatedly triggered. So every pressure put on you by a co worker or supervisor/ employer had the extra pressure you felt with your father. And so every pressure felt more intense for you and made you more miserable than would be the case if you had a good relationship and a good working relationship with your father.

    What do you think?



    Wow, this story might as well have been written by me with just a few of the facts changed. My dad had a shop that I worked at, not a machinist but a blueprinting shop. My dad was also difficult, more than difficult, he was down right impossible sometimes and would go out of his way to try to embarrass me in front of other people whenever the mood was on him. Couldnt please him, and the other employees hated me because I was the bosses son and they feared I would take their job. Nobody would teach me anything beyond the very, very basics and even after I graduated from college I spent 2 years back in the shop sweeping floors, and taking out the trash while the other employees snickered behind my back. Berating and embarrassing me in front of customers and the other employees was becoming a daily occurrence until finally one day I just walked out and never went back.
    Same story, after I left the shop it was a string of jobs and several career changes. I always felt disliked by fellow employees, and I know for a fact that I have never been valued by an employer. Anyway here is what I did; In my early 30’s I came to the conclusion that I was just never going to be happy living the conventional life. I knew I was never going to thrive at that game. Whether it’s my fault or everybody elses doesnt really matter. I took stock of myself, my strengths and weaknesses and asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life regardless of money. What would really make me happy? It took me a couple of years to come up with an answer and a basic plan. There was one thing that I loved, I have always been an outdoor’s guy. I woujld often pack a sack and a fishing pole and head off into the forest for days or even weeks when I had school break or was in-between jobs. Once I spent an entire summer in the bush, I fished my food and would pop out of the woods once a week or so to resupply in town ( I received more than my share of stares, believe me ). But thats when I was truly happy, and honestly those were the only times I was truly happy back then. I remember the shadow that hung over my head when I knew it was my last day out and I’d have to go back to ‘real life’. I decided that was the life that I wanted. I realize this is extremely unorthodox thinking to our modern sensibilities, but I decided that I had one life to live and I was going to do what I wanted with it and not allow fear or other people’s opinions to change me. I had a house in the suburbs that my mom left to me. I sold it and bought a cabin in a state park with some good acreage. And there I live still and am writing to you from there. Over the years I learned to make a little money at farmer’s markets, and I raise some livestock for resale. The first thing that happened was my family basically disowned me, and those I thought were my friends disappeared. When I saw them they would ask what I’m doing and as I began to explain they would exchange looks to each other when they thought I couldnt see. OK, I thought, this isnt really surprising and it was pretty obvious to me that these were toxic people that I was well rid of. When I was miserable working shit jobs like they had, they liked me because my choices in life reaffirmed their own. Now that I was doing something very different, that they could not fathom and I was obviously happy, in shape, and beaming, they didnt like me anymore because I made them uncomfortable with their own choices. I’m sad to say that I no longer have any communication with family or my old “friends”. They had to be cut out in order for me to be free to pursue my happiness. It was a bitter pill and yet another lesson for me about human nature and life in general. Chalk it up to being on the road to wisdom.

    Odd as it sounds, they say there is someone for everyone, and even a hermit like me found himself a wife. I had a brief stint in a nearby town doing some temp labor and I met a girl, we got married, we have a son. She works in town and has brought some civilization into my life that I still struggle with at times. I still take off and go hunting or fishing for days at a time, I’d go nuts if I couldnt.. But I run the farm pretty much 24/7. The summer is for raising our meager crops and heading off to the markets, the fall is for the cattle auction, the winter is for wood cutting, and the spring starts it all over again. I work on my own, my way, at my pace. When I need rest I take it. I now love my life and my work. There’s days I cant believe how fortunate I am and how glad I am that I had the courage to do this.

    Anyway, I’m not suggesting you need to become a farmer or mountain hermit, that is definitely a very personal path. My point is that you are unhappy because none of the choices you made came from the exploration of your own happiness. Did you search your soul and some to the conclusion that, of all things in the world becoming a CAD draftsman would make you the most happy? No. You needed a job, and you tried to find one that wasn’t ‘as bad’ as whatever you were doing at the time. You have to ask yourself, if money was not a factor, what is it that you would like to do with your life? Or say ‘if I already had all the money I needed to meet the basics of life, what would I do with myself’? No answer is too far fetched. And it might take you a long time to figure that out. My original answer was I’d walk off into the woods and fish/hunt for the rest of life. Hey that sounds far fetched but it’s pretty much what I did and I’m the happiest Ive ever been. I hope you find your answer and have the courage to pursue it. Best of luck.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 4 months ago by Kirk. Reason: spelling
    Mr. Ritz

    Hi Anita,
    Yes, I think you are surprisingly accurate.

    One of the things I missed out on was leaving home after high school to have the “college experience” which would, I feel, would have given me the time and chance to sort out what I wanted to do with my life. Of course when college was mentioned, the replies were “we can’t afford it” and the phrase “college educated idiot” was heard more than a few times. Seeing as how my father was successful without higher education, he didn’t put much stock in the idea.

    My father passed away in 2012 and I thought that I would feel different after, but the ghost of him still lingers.

    My wife will be able to retire in 5 years with her piddly little teacher’s pension (if they don’t find a way to steal it from her first). At that point we plan to move to a town we really love and start easing into part time work and possibly real estate . We should be debit free (other than the house) within a year and I’m currently making the most money I’ve ever earned.

    I’m thinking now would not be a good time to walk away from a well paying career, but I have to make peace with this somehow.

    My wife wonders if I can just tough it out a few more years? I’d really rather not waste any more of my life being miserable, but on the other hand being patient could pay out some big benefits a little way down the road.

    Mr. Ritz

    “Did you search your soul and some to the conclusion that, of all things in the world becoming a CAD draftsman would make you the most happy? No.”

    That cracked me up, thanks!

    I admire the courage to do what you did and I’m glad you had the vision to see what made you happy. I wish I could find that too.

    “if I already had all the money I needed to meet the basics of life, what would I do with myself”?
    Great question. I asked my wife that this afternoon and all we could come up with was, Chill, go for walks, hang out with friends, travel.
    We’re both just really tired and burnt out.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 4 months ago by Mr. Ritz.

    Dear mr-ritz:

    The current job is not secure, you wrote. You are afraid your unpredictable boss will let you go at any time. This creates anxiety in you by itself, is that correct?

    And one of the guys in my office is “super obnoxious and annoys the shit out of me”.

    These are two issues you mentioned about your current job. Your wife prefers you don’t yet. You want to quit the job but you want to have peace doing so. You and your wife can manage financially if you quit the job and later work part time.

    Am I correct so far? I am asking because I would like to try and be helpful.


    Mr. Ritz

    I think the jobs secure, it’s just a feeling of uncertainty I picked up on.

    Keep in mind I’ve only been here a couple months. Maybe it’s just new job anxiety?

    The logical part of my brain says learn to deal with it. Moving to another job would just repeat the cycle.

    I have a goal to get all debit paid off and then, maybe in a year I can shift to part time. The downside is I won’t be able to put much, if any money aside for retirement if I do that.

    What can I do to deal with work until then?

    Mr. Ritz

    The other option would be to throw in the towel and apply for disability. I’ve been living with my mental issues for a very very long time, but for the past few years I’ve been dealing with a lot of pain.
    Last fall I was diagnosed with arthritis in the neck, shoulders, hands, knees, and feet. Sitting becomes painful, so I get up and walk around and that is ok for a while, then different areas hurt and I have to sit again.
    Being in pain all day gives you a bad attitude.


    Dear mr-ritz:

    I am sorry you are suffering from arthritis on top of other distresses. It makes sense to want to pay off debt. I understand that. It is okay too to apply for disability. It may be a long, frustrating process though, something to prepare for if you choose to go this route. I hope you have the numbers: how much disability payments amount to.

    I would say, number one consideration, priority, is your well being, physical, mental (everything is physical, really). All other considerations are secondary.

    Regarding considering continuing the current job, and for as long as you are working there, these are my thoughts:

    Every stressor you experience there, every time the other guy in the office is at least unkind to you, the distress you feel as a result carries in its intensity and depth the distress you felt with your father. I will compare your experience at work to walking a stretch of road every day. You are walking that stretch carrying a heavy weight of your experience with your father. He lives inside your head, unfortunately and naturally, as that voice in you, the “inner critic”, your internalized father and the distress is about part of you still suffering under the dictatorship, the intolerance of your internalized father.

    If you didn’t have that burden, you would be walking that stretch of road every day with no excess weight. So every unpleasant thing at work carries some weight you can most often easily handle.

    From my experience it is far from easy or quick to weaken that voice, that internalized, abusive parent. It is a process that requires work, persistence, a whole lot of patience. It is often uncomfortable and distressing. There is suffering in healing, only there is hope in this kind of suffering.

    If you are motivated and willing to go through such a process, if you can shift (like I do) from distress to curiosity, being involved and interested in this healing process, than your current job affords you this opportunity to heal.

    You may be not motivated and understandably so, because it is a long process.



    Mr. Ritz

    From my experience it is far from easy or quick to weaken that voice, that internalized, abusive parent. It is a process that requires work, persistence, a whole lot of patience. It is often uncomfortable and distressing. There is suffering in healing, only there is hope in this kind of suffering.

    So what can I do to start the process?


    Dear mr-ritz:

    I would say the first step is to become aware of your thoughts. And of your feelings. In my therapy it was called Mindfulness, the skill, developed over time, of paying attention. The exercises I was given were guided meditation directing me to pay attention to sounds around me, really focus on just sounds, or sights, or the feel on touching something. I didn’t click “Mindfulness” on the Home Page of tiny buddha, this very site, but seems like there are articles about mindfulness right here. And there are mindfulness guided meditations you can download from other places online.

    So that is the necessary skill to make healing possible for you: paying attention, that is being mindful of what you can sense with your five senses and being mindful of your thoughts, your emotions, body sensations.

    Being mindful of all these things make it possible for you, over time, to regulate your emotions (calm down when distressed, to shift from over thinking to sensing (a relief!) and it makes it possible for you to learn how you think and feel. What you think affects what you feel and what you feel affects what you think.

    Over time you learn how you operate, your thinking and feeling. Insight into childhood will help but is not useful by itself. The past operates in your brain in the present time. it is this present operation you need to see, understand, and manage.

    There is so much to it, took me over five years of daily work. There is a lot to it. Also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was big part of my therapy. It is about correcting out distorted thoughts (once you identify them). There are CBT worksheets available, maybe on this site as well. Lots of resources and books on CBT.

    I will gladly elaborate on any of these things. Let me know.



    First time posting but I wanted to contribute to this. I am 47 years old and a lot of what the OP is saying rings true to me as well. The part of the conversation that struck me was the statement, “tough it out a few more years.” I tried doing that at my last job; hated as early as three weeks in but ‘stuck it out’ for almost four years. In the end, my frustration grew to the level that one day I just turned in my keys and ID badge and walked out the door.

    I do not regret doing this, but there have been consequences. Aside from the obvious stuff about breaking a contract, not having another job lined up, etc. the worst thing I’ve had to deal with so far has been the damage staying there did to my confidence. I knew for years it was sucking the life out of me, yet I stayed and stayed. And every day I approved of myself less and less. Now I am trying to figure out what to do next without making the same mistakes I made four years ago that got me into a crappy job I didn’t like or want in the first place.

    Interestingly enough – and here is some caution for you as you decide what to do next – I’d had a similar situation happen previous to taking THIS job. I was a teacher for ten years and burned out to the point that I decided to quit (at the end of the year like you’re supposed to) and ‘chill’ for two years (very fortunate that I had the funds to do this). I was 40 years old at the time. But, I felt guilty for just doing nothing, even though no one was pressuring me to do anything, so I decided that to make this break from work look legitimate I would go back to grad school and get a master’s degree in my teaching field. I figured it would give me a reason to be unemployed that was acceptable to my friends and family, and at the end of my break I could just slide right on back into my chosen profession and everything would make sense to everybody. Except the entire time I was getting that master’s degree, I absolutely hated the courses, was bored by the subject matter, and could have cared less when fulfilling my internship hours. I had ZERO interest in what I was studying, but I just HAD to look responsible to the outside world, so I went through with it, and then got the job I’ve had the past four years that I hated from day one. And now here I am, unemployed again and once again facing what to do next with my life and trying NOT make the same mistake of trying to do the “right” thing that will just backfire on me later.

    As you can see, this whole fiasco came about from me making my life decisions based on what I believe I was SUPPOSED to do in the eyes of society and my environment. I cannot afford, emotionally, to make the same mistake again. Slogging away all these years at a career that insulted my intelligence on the regular and frustated me to death on the daily has taken a huge toll on my self-esteem, and at times right now I don’t even feel confident enough to LOOK at job listings, much less apply for any. I wish I’d been honest with myself way back when I took that first break, and spent a lot more time deciding what I personally wanted to do rather than just trying to maintain a certain image to the world about what was going on.

    If you are on the wrong path, one thing is certain – life WILL knock you off of it, again and again, until you stop on the side of the road, sit down, and LISTEN to what the universe is trying to tell you. I don’t have answers for that part because I am going through it now myself. And my brain is so muddled with so many years of others’ expectations that it is hard to hear my own voice. But I know I can’t make the same mistakes again, so even if I just become a private tutor to avoid the personal conflicts I always have with administrators when I teach in a school, I am going to start there and continue to seek out what my calling really is.

    I feel these things get harder and harder to do the older we get, and it feels really critical to me that I get this mess sorted out NOW before it’s too late. Although I guess it is never too late as long as we are still alive. God knows that for me, at least, whatever my real desires are for my life cannot be ignored forever. Until I listen I’ll continue to experience the conflict and unrest that I don’t want to go through anymore.

    Good luck to you and sorry this was so long.


    * Dear mareym: I hope the OP will respond to your post (last post before yours is over two weeks ago, longer than average active life span of a thread. If he is not back, or otherwise, if you want to start your own thread (copy and paste the above or parts of it, if you’d like) so to get my reply or others’ – please do (click Forums above, choose Categroy, click chosen categroy, go down the page to empty box).

    Mr. Ritz

    Hey Everybody, I’m still here. Haven’t had access to my computer for a couple days.

    I hear what you’re saying and I am familiar with the trials of an educator. My wife has been teaching for over 20 years. My head would have exploded after the 1st year if I were to try that job.

    The damage to confidence I am experiencing also as well as the feeling that I’m “supposed to” do certain things. For example, staying at home while the wife works would be a shameful thing, yet no one bats an eye when the wife stays home.

    As I get older I feel my time becoming more valuable than the money also. Is that why you say “…get this mess sorted out NOW before it’s too late.”? Hoping to be able to enjoy the remaining years more?
    Me too.


    I am SO right there! I wake up every day counting the dollars going into my bank account until I can quit. I have been living a life I THOUGHT I was supposed to lead and spent all my time making sure everyone else was comfortable, happy and fulfilled. No more.

    Mr. Ritz
    It sounds like you are in a bit of a depression which is likely clouding your thinking and leading you down a path of negativity. Disability is not the answer. Staying at a job where you are not happy is not the answer. Your time does become more valuable the older you get.

    There are so many issues going on for you maybe start with baby steps. Try to find some peace within and stop with the negative thinking (guided meditation is really great). Next, start reading and exploring what WILL make you happy….don’t just jump to something because you think it MAY be the right thing. The Passion Test is a great book. The job that will make you happy will be something that comes from your soul. Its in there….you just have to find it. You can do it!

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