One of my good friends once told me: “having to work is so bad, that they have to pay you for you to do it”.
I worked at a financial company for almost 11 years, dressing up every morning in uncomfortable clothes, drinking a too-hot-to-be-healthy cup of coffee, battling in public transportation for a seat in a crowded AC-less subway, so I could finally sit behind a desk all day to go through hundreds of e-mails…aaaand repeat.
Don’t get me wrong, for a long time the desk job was good, given the number of years I stayed put (I’m no masochist, although at times I wonder). I moved up many times and I had made a name for myself, I was climbing the corporate ladder LIKE. A. CHAMP. and I kept “earning” (you know that thing when they give you more to do without paying you for it?) more responsibilities with time. But I won’t lie, the main benefit for me was that I had enough vacation per year which allowed me to live my travel dreams for a while, going to places for extended periods of time….once per year.
The Travel Itch
I fell in love with travel a long time ago, and I made a point of always going somewhere new whenever I could. Travel was and always has been a passion for me, and a place where I could really be myself. Throughout my life I have had the chance to visit over 20 countries, live in different cultures, experience different smells and tastes from around the world, meet people, get robbed, fall, get-up…
Like many, I always wanted to take a gap year to see the world, but it was never “the right time” both in my career or in my relationship, I always found a reason to say “not now, maybe next year”. Finally, a trip to Africa woke me up and reminded me of what I REALLY wanted to do with my life. If I was going to wait for “the right time”, I was going to rot behind my desk for the rest of my days!!!
Meanwhile Back at the Office….
Maybe it was fate sending me a message (“violently throwing me a message…in the face” is more what it felt like), but it was exactly in the months prior to my trip to Africa that things had started to suck hard at work. People were quitting and a do-more-with-less mentality reigned. I was no longer comfortable with that corporate non-sense of putting lots of my own effort and time for someone else’s company.
On top of that we got an e-mail from the CEO telling us there wouldn’t be any raises…I remember whispering to myself “FUCK THAT!” the moment I read it (OK, it wasn’t a whisper…others heard it).
On the same e-mail we get asked to hold-on tight and “continue working together” so next year we’d be in a better position. Sure!!! What’s next??? Do you want me to pay rent for my desk? Or maybe I should pay you for the work experience I’m gaining! No wait, you can have my first born too!!!
On the other hand, the company kept buying competitors and new businesses. I might be wrong but if I told a girlfriend that I had no money to take her out on dates, but I kept spending money drinking with friends…she’ll have every right to throw a SHITSTORM on me!!! I talk from experience people!!!!
From that moment on the cubicle seemed to get smaller and smaller, meetings were just long and painful to the point that my notebook resembled a sketchbook for toddlers (I have zero artistic side), air was tightening and the cost of a can Coke on the soda machine went from $1.00 to $1.25.
THAT WAS IT FOR ME!!!
The idea of waiting for 365 more days hoping for something good to happen made me throw up in my mouth. I knew that I didn’t belong to this world anymore, that these uncomfortable clothes were not me anymore, that I was meant for something better than a 9-to-5 job behind a desk. I needed to make something happen now!!! For myself and my sanity…
I have booked a one-way ticket to South-America…with no set return date. I have given up my apartment and all of my stuff has been given away or sold. The plan? To see the world for as long as money lasts. On the menu are Woofing at a farm in South-America, volunteering at an orphanage in Africa, teaching English to children in Asia, and whatever else comes my way.
I decided to leave my cubicle and the corporate world to pursue MY dreams…not somebody else’s. That person is no longer me and I have moved on from that lifestyle, and I aim to never going back to it. Don’t get me wrong, some people will find happiness doing what they do behind a desk for the rest of their lives, and good for them. However the more I stayed put the more I had the feeling that I was wasting my life not doing what I really wanted to do. The early career goals of impressing the corporate world and climbing the corporate ladder were no longer something I aimed for, today I couldn’t actually care less. My only goal today is to challenge myself in doing what I love to do, keep experiencing new cultures, keep on seeing new places, and getting lost in random cities while living my life the way I always wanted to.
So, to you who is reading this, what is YOUR dream? What do YOU want to do with YOUR life? And what can YOU do to make it happen? From my end, I will not miss “working for the man”……I say C U NEVER and show a middle finger to my cubicle with no regrets!!! Will you?