So your job sucks, huh? Please accept my deepest condolences. But take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. There have been people trapped in a emotionally deadening work environments since jobs became a thing. While your bank account and LinkedIn profile are probably really proud of you, their pride doesn’t make going to work everyday any easier, does it? 

So, what’s the problem? Do you work hard only to be deeply unappreciated? What’s your boss like? Does she demand perfection one minute and shrug off her mistakes the next? What about your coworkers? Are they rude? Incompetent? Do they just breathe racism and misogyny and general ickiness? Or is it just the job? Is it not what you expected?

Well, why don’t you just quit?

Oh, you need the money. So you can’t quit right now, but you will be able to eventually! Until then, this is what you do. This is going to be complicated and a little passive-aggressive, but I’ll get you through this job. Middle fingers up!

1. Do your job and go home. 

This isn’t going to win you any points with your boss, but we don’t like them anyway. Contrary to what your better-paid superiors might tell you, there’s really nothing wrong with doing your part and punching out.  You’ll rack up the brownie points at your next gig. If you work an hourly job, it’s a bit harder to just say “Job, bye” and leave when you want, but it’s still possible to shave off some hours. Make a budget. Once you know how much money you need, you know how much work you don’t need. 

This also means deciding what expenses you no longer need. Say goodbye to your bi-weekly bar hops. If you have a side hustle, see how much money it could pull. You’ll likely still need to rely on The Job for the bulk of your income, but anything to supplement it means a few less hours in hell at work. Leave those special projects and extra hours for the overachievers gunning for promotion. Your boss might be bitter about it, but if The Job really wanted you to stick around and work extra hard, it would work a little harder too.

2. If you’re not getting paid to take your work home with you, don’t take it home with you.

If you have coworkers hitting you up about some work catastrophe that’s befallen them after you’ve left, just put your middle finger up. In your head. And maybe when their backs are turned. Let them fend for themselves! Or make them bother that coworker you don’t like anyway and have him fix it. You’re a better person than him anyway.  If they whine, just roll your eyes. This can be fuzzier if you’re doing remote work, but if that’s the case you’re still entitled to set hours.

I used to feel a little bad for leaving people hanging when they’d email me at 9 PM with problems, but guess what: they got over it, and as a bonus, the world didn’t end, and my workplace was still standing. Keep in mind that taking work home with you isn’t just answering emails from your couch, it’s also being so consumed in (rightfully) hating your job that it’s all you can think about. Leave work where it is and watch some Netflix (or apply for another job!), but don’t think about work until you’re back at it in the morning.

3. Make friends.

It’s true, the buddy system always works. If The Job is half as bad as you think it is, then someone else hates it, too. Find these people and form your own job-hating, desperate-to-leave-but-can’t-quite-yet clique. You can make t-shirts. If your coworkers are the worst then this option is going to be a hard one for you, but chances are there’s an acceptable person or two (we hope). Once you have them, you’re set. You don’t have to be best friends. There are best friends and then there are work friends.

One of these you go to bars with, the other you make meaningful eye contact with when your boss says something characteristically stupid. If your new friends are actually terrible outside of work, you never have to know. But if you do take the leap and see them outside work, make sure you aren’t constantly bashing work.  It’s fun, I know, but if you’re talking about The Job all the time (especially when you’re not there), it wins

4. Take what you can get. 

This is the most fun. Some salaried jobs may offer a gym membership or keep you stocked with office supplies or do something else you don’t think is that impressive but may as well enjoy. Think about it like this: you’ve given a lot to this place (maybe not if you’re following this list, but you working there counts for something). So it’s time you get something in return.

Even if it’s just a steady supply of pencils for your desk or free French fries, take what you can get.  Don’t steal. They can get you for that, and I promise you The Job isn’t worth that hassle. But do show up to the company picnic for a mere fifteen minutes for a free cheeseburger and then go home. Someone might criticize you, but you don’t care. 

5. Quit.

This is your final step, grasshopper, to be taken when the time is right. Be careful not to mistake someone else’s “right time” for yours or vice versa. If you’ve taken all my wisdom and The Job still sucks, cut the cord. You’ve done what you can. What’s the point in continuing to invest emotional energy in a soul-crushing job? Even if you’re not financially secure yet, maybe you’re okay with that. Maybe you can last for awhile on savings before landing another job. If so, put that middle finger right up.

Do it to their faces this time (if you need recommendations/references for your next job then keep it on the down low).  I told myself I’d hold out at my own job for the rest of the summer only to put my two weeks in on Tuesday because sometimes enough really is enough. Know your worth so you also know when to call it quits. 

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  • Chelsea A. Hensley is a writer from St. Louis. She recently graduated with a BA in English from the University of Missouri. When she isn’t writing, she's enjoying a book, watching Netflix or listening to Beyoncé. Sometimes she even tries to do all three at once.