I’m Glad I Hated My First Job

Hindsight is both your enemy and your friend.


Max Phillips

3 years ago | 4 min read

“Max, you’re working tomorrow.”

“Okay,” I said meekly. “That’s fine.”

Internally, I was screaming. Every week was the same. Despite saying I couldn’t work on Sundays, my first manager would give me my Sunday shift the day before, denying me the opportunity to play football.

I hated my first job. It wasn’t much. All I did was serve sausage rolls and coffee, but now I twitch whenever I smell some pastry (not that it stops me from eating it, of course).

Looking back, I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It meant I was able to play football once again, and I was happy. But hindsight is a funny thing.

Hating my first job and the next few after taught me some valuable lessons I started learning seven years later.

Here they are.

Resentment builds drive

A job is a job, right? So I didn’t judge my manager on his position. Instead, I projected his life into a future version of mine.

Suffice to say; I didn’t like what I saw.

This was my first job in the hospitality/retail sector. Over the ensuing six years, I’d go on to work in a pub, clothes and health stores. Those experiences led me to vow to never work in that industry again.

With all due respect to my manager, I didn’t want to deny a 16-year-old the chance to play football on a Sunday. Nor did I want to work in a pastry shop. Instead, that experience ignited a drive in me which I still use to this day.

When you experience something you genuinely detest, you do everything in your power to ensure it never happens again. So, a first job is an excellent place for that to start. You learn the importance of knowing what you want from the outset, potentially saving yourself a great deal of heartache in the future.

Quitting becomes easier

As a teen, I played sports nearly every day of the week. I was staunchly against quitting — I’d even fight my stomach to finish the plate even if I was ready to burst. So when I realised it was time to leave, I was terrified.

I honestly thought the world was about to end. But guess what? It didn’t.

I handed the manager my resignation letter, and somewhat surprisingly, he said sorry for putting me on Sunday shifts and vowed to “do better” if I stayed. That made everything easier.

Quitting isn’t a sign of weakness. More often than not, it’s the opposite.

A prime example of this is Simone Biles, who infamously quit most of her Olympic title defences at the Tokyo Games. Angry Twitter users shook their virtual fists and furiously gave their opinions:

“She quit on her teammates!”
“A true GOAT wouldn’t quit like that.”
“It’s like Tom Brady quitting halfway through the super bowl.”

Yawn. Quitting is sometimes the best option. In doing so, you prove to yourself that you can put yourself first and learn that the world will keep spinning if you do.

You become less judgmental

I firmly believe everyone should work in a customer-facing job at some stage in their early career. How you treat bar staff or a cashier is perhaps the most accurate measure of your character. Hating my job taught me that.

More often than not, I put a smile on to ensure the customers had no complaints. But, at the end of an eight-hour shift and smelling like pastry, sometimes that wasn’t possible.

Now, whenever I see a stone-faced customer, I assume they're having a bad day. Being nice to someone like that goes a long way.

It’s easy to look at someone and judge them immediately. I do, even though I’m writing this. But hating my job taught me the power of giving people the benefit of the doubt. After all, you never know what someone is going through.

The hidden power of daydreaming

As my first few jobs didn’t take up too much mental capacity (and they were often dull), I had a lot of time for daydreaming.

Initially, all I could think about was how boring sweeping crumbs and refilling shelves of sausage rolls was. But, as time progressed and the more I hated where I was, my mind began to wonder.

I thought about various things: where I might be in seven years, the party I had that evening or scoring the winning goal in Sunday’s game. But, whatever it was, it taught me that just because you’re not doing anything doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything.

Plus, some of your best ideas come after a daydreaming session. We’re constantly jumping from one problem to the next — A to B, Y to Z, 1 to 2 — so our brains often don’t get the opportunity to relax. And when we think too hard about something, we often can’t think at all.

Hating my job relaxed my brain. While I was there, my mind fleeted through all kinds of thought patterns. It’s that creative imagination that, as a writer, I now cherish.

The worst moments provide the most valuable lessons

Recently, I hit what felt like rock bottom. My income sources dried up, I took a break from writing articles and struggled to find work. While it sucked, I vowed never to feel like that again. “Chapter 2” began, as I wrote in my journal. I decided to reignite my career (this article is just the beginning).

It’s not too dissimilar from my miserable 16-year-old self. Hating that job taught me the value of doing what I love, and that’s a lesson worth learning at any age.


Created by

Max Phillips







Related Articles