I’ve known work as a refuge. In a time of family crisis, when things at home were anything but steady, work was a sanctuary. In my personal life, I felt scared that I wouldn’t find my way. But at the office, I felt secure, competent, effective.
I’ve also known work as a monster. I was in over my head, and each day when I powered on the computer, it felt like something was getting ready to pounce on me. It wasn’t a question of if the Next Terrible Thing would happen, but when.
Like a school bully who you know you’ll run into at some point during the day, the Work Monster doesn’t have to be sly or strategic. It just throws its weight around.
It’s the long hours. It’s the unclear expectations. It’s the all-too-clear but impossible demands. It’s the meaninglessness of it all.
The Work Monster can beat you up. You come to the end of the day exhausted. Defeated. Alone.
You want to quit.
But you can’t bring yourself to choose the abyss of unemployment. The Work Monster is, at least, the devil you know.