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Musings, Rants

iQuit

On June 14, 2012, I had finally submitted my letter of resignation after one dispute too many with my line manager. I remained to serve my one month notice period, and was determined to leave on good terms. I put all my efforts into avoiding any altercations with my boss, or anyone else in the company for that matter.

I did well.

On July 12, 2012, I served my last day. In a shocking turn of events, my boss decided to play her final card. She pulled the biggest stunt do date, fully meant to showcase her authority, and provoke a reaction.

It worked.

I won’t go into the details of what she did – or attempted to do – but I will say this: boy, am I happy to get out of that toxic environment!

I felt like a prisoner working in that corporation. Upon entering, I was immediately identified with a number unique to me – 1226. I was handed a badge with a barcode that allowed me entry and exit, and a photo very similar to a mugshot. I was required to abide by a specific dress code, follow orders, and do as I’m told. Upon leaving, I went through a whole set of procedures, in which several officials and authority figures had to sign off on my release (and yes, they actually call it that). My prison sentence lasted one year and four months.

I hated my boring corporate job. I hated sitting at my desk, staring at my screen while doing continuous mundane tasks. I hated how it sucked the life out of me. I hated how it made me feel empty inside. I hate everything it stands for. But most of all, I hate how that lifestyle is construed as “the norm” by cultural standards.

One blogger put it best when he wrote how working in the corporate world was akin to buying one’s happiness. Well, I’m tired of living a merely content life, contributing nothing to society. Adding no value to my life, or anyone else’s. Besides that paycheck at the end of every month, my life had no purpose. It was meaningless. In a paltry year and a half, I had already made the discovery that the corporate world is a “creativity-destroying, soul-deadening maze of politics and bureaucracy. While some thrive in the rat race, others feel trapped.

When I resigned, I received a lot of encouragement, but simultaneously, there was some push back for it. My family thought I was being lazy and foolish to give up a job that was paying so well. Some of my friends and colleagues thought I was hasty and impulsive leaving without even a fallback position. I was going against the status quo by leaving a perfectly acceptable job just because it was making me miserable. And it wasn’t easy to do, especially when you’ve been conditioned to think otherwise.

Older generations would scoff at the idea of wanting to do something you love. At wanting to enjoy the work you do. To them, working was an obligation, a necessity – you’re not supposed to like your job – it’s a means to pay the bills and provide for the family. They do not understand the notion of wanting to fuse our likes and passions with money-making. Pamela Skillings said it best when she wrote, “Today, work is more personal than ever before. Who you are is what you do. Back in the day, you went to work for one company and trusted that the firm would take care of you for life. Today, we all know that there are no guarantees.”

No matter what you may hear, or what a company may tell you, individuality and originality are not what they are looking or aspiring for. Rather they seek followers. Meek, yielding, compliant, unprotesting minions. Corporate robots that will do exactly as they are told.

Upon accepting a position, it becomes a matter of switching off. As the months go by, the slow progression to brain-numbness ensues. And as your braincells slowly die, you become more comfortable with your situation. You are used to it now. It gets easier and you take solace in the fact that you can resort to complaining about your nine-to-five job, your boss, your work, your company and everything else to family and friends. Your amusements consist of counting down to the next weekend, the next vacation, and calling in sick every now and then of course.

But I quit. I am free of the evil clutches of this dark corporate world. The golden handcuffs are finally off, and it feels liberating. Now, I can focus on what it is I want to do with my life. What I plan to do next. Do I want to start my own business? Do I want to pursue my PhD? Do I want to teach? Do I want to look for another job? Do I want to write a book and travel the world?

Honestly, I want all of the above. When, where and how? I will figure it out.

Until then, here is a phenomenal playlist that my friend and I compiled, conveying our emotional timeline at the company up to the point where we had had enough and I had left. (I highly recommend the use of this playlist during resignation periods – alterations can be made according to one’s experience)

1. I Want To Break Free – Queen

2. Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

3. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister

4. Shove This Jay Oh Bee – Cannibus

5. The Final Countdown – Europe

6. Rootless Tree – Damien Rice

7. U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer

8. I Feel Good – James Brown

Finally, I bid my old life and job farewell. And to my boss, I say, you can “take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more!

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About smshamma

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle, but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." - Marilyn Monroe

Discussion

26 thoughts on “iQuit

  1. I’d be careful about doing something you love as work, though. There is nothing worse than entering the forest and being lost in the policies and politics of something you like to do. I thought I liked advertising until I worked in it, and my wife thought she was born to be a teacher until she met other teachers.

    I guess this is what work is, what it’s all about – just a way to make ends meet.

    “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

    Posted by Doctor Impossible | July 13, 2012, 09:32
    • I love that quote. That movie really nailed what it’s like in an office environment.

      And yes, you are right to an extent. I am quite certain I’ll find something to complain about no matter what it is I end up doing. But at least I know that I wouldn’t mind it too much if I was complaining about something I love to do. In any case, this is my opportunity to go out and explore.

      Posted by smshamma | July 13, 2012, 20:02
  2. That’s pretty badass. I hope more people start doing something that they love rather than doing something for convenience. I sure hope I do.

    Posted by farahshamma | July 13, 2012, 09:32
  3. Thanks so much for speaking up. As a corporate drone, I completely know what you mean by the daily shenanigans, although I think it manifests itself slightly differently in every work place, but essentially it’s the same stifling environment that kills creativity and any forms of critical thinking, kind of like what Foucault says about the displining power of any institutions. Sometimes, I have the impression that I am the main character in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I am afraid that if I don’t do something about this, I might wake up one day metaphormosed into a giant bug on my bed. In the space of 4.5 months, I’ve experienced so many things that I feel like I am slowly turning into someone I hate. Like you said, this kind of environment is very toxic, I am disappointed with myself, and I’ve become very quick-tempered with the others. People around me don’t really understand why I would want to leave my job after making so much efforts to come back to England. Everyone I spoke to told me that this is what work is and I should be thankful for having one in such a perilous job market. In many ways, I’m just as puzzled by their reactions as they are by mine. I don’t understand how someone can be happy with turning up at the same place at the same time every day,doing frankly something that probably monkeys can do for five days a week and be okay with it? Like you, I am mad as hell with the complacency and the reticence behind this working culture. I admire your stamina and your courage for quitting your job without having a back-up plan, but I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do when you are young. To change the course of your life without having to worry about how your decision might impact anyone but yourself. Best of luck with whichever path you decide to take. Bisous.

    Posted by Wanyun | July 13, 2012, 16:39
    • Thank you Wanyun! And I know exactly what you are going through, I went through that whole phase where I was in a constant state of moodiness. I was such a grouch, to the point where I could not communicate with my family anymore because I feared I would end up snapping at them about one silly thing or another. It really takes so much out of you, and drains you.

      Organisations look for obedient house pets to do their petty job for them. I really don’t know where I’m headed, but thank you for your wishes, and I will definitely be penning you an email soon with more details and updates. xx

      Posted by smshamma | July 13, 2012, 20:05
  4. lol..”Upon entering, I was immediately identified with a number unique to me – 1226. I was handed a badge with a barcode that allowed me entry and exit, and a photo very similar to a mugshot”. That made laugh. We make jokes about that at work all the time.

    I’ve read many researches and participated in some related to work and what motivates us and makes our jobs satisfying the most. Interestingly enough, pay was not on top of the list. Sure, you need money to live (duh), but we are willing to sacrifice a portion of it for the peace of our minds. What tops the list is argumentative. In my opinion though; it is how much you enjoy what you do, and the environment surrounding you while doing it. Let’s face it, no-one likes a routine job or doing little things that have to be done. Also, no-one likes doing things that may be value adding to the organization or society as a whole and receive minimal or no support from the parties responsible or have the authority to implement. That would and will suck you dry of life and energy. Another thing that I believe is important is being challenged. That would stimulate your mind and creativity — not to mention the rush you get from accomplishing something that was a challenge to you. Depending on how persistent or determined you are it is not easy going down that road. Starting your own business is easier said than done. People rarely go for this option because it is a) too risky or b) lack the resources. I can understand a), but there are ways to overcome b) like starting on a very small scale, partnering, or finding investors. They simply accept their “9 to 5″ jobs and get on with it. How much they stay in one place depends on their tolerance level.

    So what should we do to overcome the feeling of being stuck in a circle every morning when we wake up?

    It is simple. Identify the things you enjoy doing the most and stick to them. Period. Even if the rewards seem higher and the losses seem lower for choosing something else. By simply saying things like :”I’ll get used to it, this is life and we have to accept it, it’s like that for everyone, etc, we’re temporarily convincing ourselves, it would not work for us over the long run. It is the way we’re created. We are curious beings. We can’t tolerate being left in a dark spot in the world where we don’t innovate, explore, and build. Yes, it is possible to achieve that with a job. I always tell people to find a job that requires creative thinking such as; advertising, research and development, academic researching, journalism, analyst etc. OR find something that is not routine and requires you to constantly be moving from one location to another such as; consultancy, outdoor/field sales, auditing, site engineer, etc. That of course given you a) enjoy doing it and b) provided with a healthy atmosphere to perform.

    For you, and given the last bit of your piece, I think you should explore teaching at a university while doing your PHD. At the same time you could write a book and travel the world. Whatever you decide you want to do at the end of the day should be something you want to do, and not something others are expecting of you. And even if it is not within their expectations level, your circle of family and friends would still support you.

    Cheers.

    P.S. 1226 is my manager’s extension.

    Posted by eyeonit | July 13, 2012, 16:55
  5. If you are going to quit a well-paying job, this is definitely the time–before you have too many obligations or a family depending on you. Not everyone who is unhappy with their job has that option. Good luck on finding your way to something meaningful to you!

    Posted by Jeannette Monahan | July 13, 2012, 18:58
    • Thank you Jeannette, and yes – that was one of the main reasons why I found the courage to just leave my current position. I will keep everyone posted I’m sure with whatever it is I end up doing. Thank you for your kind wishes =)

      Posted by smshamma | July 13, 2012, 20:07
  6. What you did was and is something I obviously know you won’t regret
    YOU QUIT!! YA!!

    Posted by Mariam & Dimah | July 13, 2012, 20:15
  7. Boy, about damn time huh. Welcome aboard.

    And one day, when you conquer the world your way, you will think about this very moment and thank this very boss for adding another log to the fire.

    Everything happens for a good reason.

    Great playlist, by the way.

    Will share couple of my favourites to the context.

    Bon Jovi – Its my life – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SKFwtgUJHs

    Eminem – One Shot One Opportunity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4Uv_4jGgAM&feature=related

    Posted by VJ | July 13, 2012, 20:35
    • Thank you Vijay, although let me tell you, there’s no thanking to be done. And I will be responsible for my future success.

      But yes, everything does happen for a reason =)

      I actually was going to add Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” to the playlist haha

      Posted by smshamma | July 14, 2012, 11:13
      • Ha of course, she will never get any credit nor deserve it but you know what i mean.

        Yeah, these songs can never go wrong.

        The decision you took today is extremely significant. Most of them wants to do what you did, only a handful executes it. Requires courage and self belief.

        World is wide open now. Bring it on. Show time, Suad :).

        Posted by VJ | July 14, 2012, 13:08
  8. I couldn’t help but agree with your comments on the old generation. I’m facing something at work, a place I love working at, but due to some “complications”, I no longer feel like I belong or feel proud of what I do, but I’m sticking it out for a few more months before I hopefully find the next crazy house. My parents, while supportive, would repeatedly tell me that back in their day, you got a job and stuck with it for years, through thick and thin. They couldn’t recollect hearing about their friends and colleagues moving around companies so much. It really was a different sort of obligation to them.

    It really is important to find and do what you love doing. Work is not worth being soulless. I remember that at an older ad agency I worked at, it hit me one day, that the day-in day-out craziness would be what i have to face for the rest of my life. Work is a phase or era you’re stuck with for life (in most cases, at least). Unlike high school or uni, this new arc just feels for ever; you can’t just shrug off the bad days and say “Oh well, just another year and I’m done with this”.

    Congrats on doing you felt must be done. You’re free now, unbound, and I envy you a bit (knock on wood). I hope it all works out in the end :)

    Posted by Tim | July 14, 2012, 16:25
    • Thanks Tim, and yes you make a very good point. You don’t have an expiration date with work, and that’s quite a depressing thought actually.

      I wish you all the best though. Hope you find what you’re looking for as well =)

      Posted by smshamma | July 14, 2012, 22:27
  9. Congratulations and I envy you..for now, I am a nurse by profession. When I graduated in 2008 I immediately started looking for a job. 2 years back I got an opportunity to come here and look for a job..I don’t have any problems with my colleagues they are all awesome. Our boss is an asshole..those promises offered in the beginning never materialized. we haven’t had a salary increase for the past 2 years, and every month we ask for our salary like beggars, when in fact we work our ass hard for it. After one month, I will be giving my resignation letter as well..for now I am sitting at home..waiting for my hour of departure to my home country. My job causes me too much of heartaches.. so I hope once I’m back I’ll get a better job, one which I deserve. Wish me luck, and good luck for your future plans as well.

    Posted by halie | July 14, 2012, 17:42
    • I’m sorry for your situation Halie. It is very difficult to have a manager that is unbearable, so I really know what you’re going through, although I do believe that your situation is even worse. I hope you enjoy your time back home, and come back with new resolve =) Good luck!

      Posted by smshamma | July 14, 2012, 22:30
  10. Doing something you are passionate about is pretty much the best you can do for yourself. At least in my experience. If i worked in a job that restrained me creatively, I don’t think I’d function at all. Some would say that’s being lazy or even a little crazy. All I know is, if you find that one thing you can immerse yourself in completely, it’s benefit to society will certainly outweigh a robocop kind of existence.

    Posted by Mohammed Mamdouh (@Mamdouhfilm) | July 14, 2012, 21:36
  11. Best piece you have written so far…at least in terms of content. My thoughts written down is what it is.

    Posted by Tarik | July 15, 2012, 13:29
  12. Hey congrats! You reminded me of myself when I resigned two years ago. Best decision of my life so far!

    Posted by AH | July 26, 2012, 19:03
  13. Hey Suad, I wish I had your playlist handy when I went through a similar process. I wish you sucess and serenity always.

    Posted by Mehul Paul | September 3, 2012, 21:48
  14. Totally agree with you. Altough the process I went through wasnt the best but the say whatever happens happens for the good. Enjoyed reading this article of yours too.

    Posted by Mehul Paul | September 4, 2012, 22:02

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