Just checked out my last blog post, funny how things turned out to be. Instead of not being available for “the next Tuesday” by the time I wrote it, I happened to be unavailable for my Tuesday is Blog Day for 2 and a half months. Crazy, how time flew. The last thing I mentioned in my blog was how I nailed a job interview. You guessed it, I was busy with work. I wish reality would not have taken its toll on me but it got me just like any vodka lovers got their inevitable hangover. I have been through internship and practicums but trust me, none of the experiences even remotely resembled the real working world. Due to the employer/employee confidentiality, I shall refrain myself from typing my thoughts out regarding my workplace environment and the circumstances I put myself through in the last 2 and a half months. But if I can sum up my experiences in just one subtle statement, let it be this: I’d rather stay at home.
Before you jump to conclusions, I wasn’t intended to put all the blame on my workplace environment, in fact, I for one should take most of the responsibility for being miserable. Though I’ve just said that I’d rather stay at home for the last 2 and a half months and I honestly believe that, I also understand, perhaps more than anybody, the futility of the word, ‘rather’. So instead of just sulking and wishing I had done this and that, I’m gonna focus on learning from my experiences and this is what this post is going to be about.
The first thing I’ve learned is that I need a switch in my mindset regarding how I evaluate myself. I have always deemed myself as someone who takes pride in managing my life, but the reality has proved me wrong in a big smug. I remember paraphrasing Rory Vaden on my Facebook – It’s never about time management, rather, it is emotion management: you manage your emotions to be okay with what you spend your time for. I obviously have not managed my emotions well enough to allow myself to seek balance despite the fact that I have read three books which I thought would prepare myself for the challenges ahead in the adult world: The Art of Organizing Anything by Rosalie Maggio, Emotional Excellence in the Workplace by Dr. Leonard Yong and Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Don’t get me wrong, the books were great, in fact, they still are, but knowing something and doing something are as we know it, two completely different matters. I can’t possibly read a book and expect to be magically transformed into someone who applies every last principle in their life. A revelation indeed, it’s time to relearn those principles, select the applicable and discard the irrelevant ones.
Next, I have also learned that there is only so much one person can do. I know, the idiom, sky’s the limit, is waiting right at the corner to be sarcastic, but hear me out. In Mandarin, we have an idiom, 能者多劳(neng zhe duo lao), which literally means those who are capable should do more work. It is an expression which serves as a consolation or flattery to those who have been given more work. So, seriously, no thanks. And ‘NO’ is one of the most powerful small words. However, it is, unfortunately, the least used word in the workplace settings because most of us are bound by the pressure of obeying orders either in the form of an explicit item in an agreement letter or an unspoken fear elicited by the power of the authority. Taking up tasks reluctantly as a result of not being able to refuse is a cowardice act. Japan has recently put a lot of attention in investigating organizations which have the potential of causing karoshi which literally means “overwork death” or occupational sudden mortality to be exact. In English, we often use this term, ‘burnout,’ which in my humble opinion, links very closely to karoshi. Failure to say no inevitably leads to burnout and thus, drives people to karoshi.
Last but not least, I’ve learned that James Allen was right – “The world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going.” In one of my journal entries, I wrote, “Today as I came back from work to these four walls, I lay down on my bed, staring at the ceiling fan which was not moving, felt an enormous hunger not from my stomach but from my entire body as it realized its spirit was dying, I could hear the cracking sounds from my bones as I gradually crawled out from the bed to sit in front of a laptop again to face my soul-sucking, mundane, tedious tasks.” A loss of focus was what I felt. It was like my spirit was traveling to another realm and leaving my body behind to perform the necessity. I was a wreck, a ship without its anchor, a door without its doorknob, a butterfly without one of its wings. Or simply put, I did not know where I was going. I was merely surviving to get by each and every day. I lost my compass, my map, my GPS, and my sense of direction. I forgot my core projects which I shall never ever forget.
So long story short, I bade goodbye to that soul-sucking place I once called home, and am determined to live once again.