I wasn’t always a comedian. For what seemed like a lifetime ago, I worked for a ballsy, left-winged lady boss who also happened to be a United States Senator.
Although I liked my job, something inside me longed to create. It became so strong that the prestige and purpose of public service became a burden. I wanted out and I wanted out fast. But like every other human, I needed a job to pay the bills. After two years, I mustered the courage (or rather the desperation) to leave.
All of us take jobs we don’t necessarily feel called to. If you’re trapped in one right now, heres my advice on surviving your day job– one day at a time.
This is a very difficult one, but it’s probably the most important. You have to actually go to your job. It’s tempting to lay in bed dreaming about what you might be doing in your “real life,” but this practice will only waste precious seconds that you can use to brush your teeth, wash your face, and generally make yourself presentable to the outside world. Also, if anyone ever questions your commitment, you can always say, “Hey, I’m here aren’t I?” and they’ll have to say, “Yes. Yes you are.”
Contract the Muscles at the Corners of Your Mouth Upwards and Allow Your Lips to Part Slightly So Your Teeth Show
Other humans recognize this as “smiling.” Apparently it makes you more “approachable” and if a lot of people do it all the time, it generally increases morale in the workplace.
Don’t Say “I Hate My Job” Out Loud
Keep it in your brain. This one is also very important. I know sometimes the words just seem to slide out like word butter, especially when your co-worker is on minute eighteen of their “really funny” cat story, but even whispering it under your breath is futile. It’s very likely that people will hear you and it’ll only further remind you of your present reality.
Spend at Time Every Day Doing Something That Isn’t Procrastinating and That Isn’t Work
Like working on that resume you’re going to send over to Tina Fey or your plan to systematically take over the world.
Figure Out Ways to Get Free Swag
Don’t steal. Be creative. For example, if your boss wants you to go pick up their lunch, say “Sure!” then make a face that exudes, “I’m part of the 99%! If they have a soul, they’ll offer to treat you.
JK. Your boss is almost certainly devoid of light. Steal everything all the time.
Form a Pack
Get together with the one or two other people you can bear to be around at work (if they exist) and vent about your other co-workers. If you don’t like anyone at work (totally understandable), create a Tumblr with sentences that start with “That moment when” then add a saucy Sex & the City gif underneath.
Hide in the Bathroom
The frequency of this will depend on the difficulty level of your job, how many people you report to, and your threshold for pain. For example, if you’re an easily frazzled Executive Assistant at a law firm that works for 8-10 lawyers, you should spend 60-70% of the day hiding in a stall.
Do not call out sick, which violates Tip 1. You should find a product that you’re mildly allergic to and slather it all over your neck. Once the reaction starts, go into your boss’s office holding a stack of papers you found around the office (these papers represent your “work”) and gush about how much you’d love to finish your work but can’t concentrate over the sound of your immune system crying. Pepper in that you don’t want to get anyone else sick and risk slowing down productivity. This should give you at least three days to yourself.
You can do this while hiding in the bathroom. Crying relieves a lot of stress and reminds you to focus on tip 4.
Block It Out
For 3-5 minutes every day, pretend you are not there. None of it is happening. You’re ten years old and comfy under the covers while your mom tickles your belly. It’s Christmas and the whole house smells like cinnamon. You are adorable and you have no idea what APR is.
Charla Lauriston is a New York based actress and comedian. Her work has been featured on VH1.com, Comedy Central, Elle, Essence, & Glamour. Find her on charlaface.tumblr.com.
Illustration by Ruxandra