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6 Ways To Escape When Your Dream Job Becomes A Nightmare

Workin' Girl

It happens to the best of us, you leap at the opportunity to work at your dream company in your dream role and then suddenly you realize, you're in hell. Well maybe not exactly hell, but the work culture and your coworkers will surely make you feel like you're close to it. Or maybe you were like me, fresh out of college and you took an opportunity that had awesome benefits and even better pay, but the role itself was outside of your interests and passions.

I think it is safe to say that your career is not a one-stop shop and your dreams, similar to life, can change based on your experiences. Working a job that has transformed from a dream to a nightmare can seem daunting and may even feel like a stab at your mental health, but you don't have to remain stagnant.

Here are a few ways to help you wake up from your nightmare:

1. Create a Plan.

First things first, you will need to create a plan to prepare for your transition out of your nightmare. As a rule of thumb, you should always be updating your resume with your new responsibilities. When you're applying for jobs it can sometimes be hard to remember all of your responsibilities and major projects you worked on. At the very least, keep a document or email thread with your major contributions and achievements so you can reference them when it's time to update your resume. Next, it's time to start applying for new jobs, sis! Keep in mind company values and professional requirements as you begin to apply for jobs. You don't want to apply for new positions that will put you back in the same predicament.

2. Talk with Your Supervisor or Mentor.

We tend to forget that our supervisors should be an advocate for us. If there are concerns that can be remedied and create a better work environment for you, you should arrange a meeting with your manager. You may be surprised how willing your supervisor is to help you, whether it's creating a new position for you, escalating your concerns to find a solution, or being a listening ear. If speaking with your supervisor is not an option, seek out a mentor who may be able to give some guidance.

3. Talk to Your Human Resource Department.

Nevertheless, if you are still planning on quitting your job, you want to make sure that you have spoken with your HR department. Nothing will make this transition more horrifying than learning you owe your company thousands of dollars for breaking a contract. Also, quitting your job means losing your health insurance and benefits. Some employers provide coverage for a few weeks after your last day, and others terminate your benefits immediately. Before you lose access to your benefits, schedule your annual doctor appointments and get a 90-day supply of your prescriptions.

4. Take Care of Your Mental Health.

It's no secret that your environment and what you surround yourself with can affect your mental health and well-being. Don't lose your sense of self in the midst of your career. Having a therapist to talk with and organize your thoughts can bring some relief. Your therapist will not only be able to guide you through your journey, but it will also be able to provide tips on how not to become overwhelmed. Yoga and meditation are also great outlets to release tension built up in your body and disconnect from your thoughts. Additionally, self-help books can offer inspiration and motivation to take responsibility for your life and career. Reading, in general, can also be a stimulant for your mind and allow you to wander into a different world.

5. Find a Hobby.

We spend the majority of our day, and even more, the majority of our lives at work. If your 9-5 is a nightmare you need waking up from, try spending time doing something that makes you happy. As children, our lives are consumed with various hobbies and extracurricular activities that get us moving and our adrenaline pumping. Reconnect with your younger self and try joining an adult sports league or volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Having a hobby will give you something to look forward to after work and give you an outlet.

6. Don’t Compare Your Journey.

In the world of social media and the perfect lives that are projected on our phones, it can be a challenge to not compare your journey to others. People compare the journey of life to a marathon, but it's more similar to a triathlon with different courses that require you to adjust and maneuver around obstacles that can seemingly take your breath away and be an uphill challenge. During your transition, you must constantly remind yourself that this is only an obstacle in your journey and with determination, you will become a survivor!

In Michelle Obama's book Becoming, she mentions the overrated question a child is asked, "What do you want to be when you get older?" The former first lady reminds us that you can be many different things in a lifetime and your career is never a one-stop shop. Your dream job can and will shift but don't allow yourself to be stuck in a nightmare. The power of our lives is in our hands.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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