You probably all know that Peter and I work full time. But here we are, managing to blog and type our thoughts, experiences, and travels in this blog.
Because of a very frustrating bureaucratic experience I just had, I am writing this open letter to each and everyone of you who may be reading this that are currently employed by a company. Yes, maybe 99% of you reading this may be affected. I’m calling it…
The Cubicle Dwellers Manifesto
Dear Cubicle Dwellers,
Greetings! First off, let me introduce myself. I too am a cubicle dweller – meaning, working a full time 9-6 job much like more than 80% of the population is doing. To be honest, I don’t really know the real percentage: I just made that number up because the exact number doesn’t really interest me and frankly, I don’t really care.
So, there, I am one of you guys (yes I’m trying to build rapport here). And I am speaking from the heart. I am writing this letter as a wake up call to each and every one of you guys who may be reading this. Who knows how many, but whatever.
Just today I got into a frustrating episode with certain people who are too interested in following procedures too much – if there are indeed any written and hard procedures. I questioned said procedures and what do I get? I get a vice president (whoopdeedoo here we go with the hierarchy) come back to me and say that they don’t want to deal with me because I started questioning things.
Whoever said that questioning things is bad? Isn’t it inherent in all of us to question things (duh – an example is kids – “WHATS THAT?”) and provide proof (OOOOH), especially when it comes to your hard earned finances?
So, to all you readers, here are some lessons I hope you remember: before you sold your time to the cubicle, you should follow these lessons, which frankly I think you all know, but got selective amnesia as soon as you get hired.
Lesson Number One:
If you are a cubicle dweller, ASK QUESTIONS. If something is off, ask. You can’t just bow your head down and let anybody just trample you without a right answer, JUST BECAUSE. Learn how to network and ask what is really going on: you’ll unearth a box of worms, sure, but you may also learn a thing or two in the end.
If something feels off – tell someone! It won’t hurt you (maybe) and what’s the worst that can happen? You may be fired, but more about that on lesson number three below.
Lesson Number Two:
Do not be intimidated by people with expats or people with higher positions than you. We are all humans here and we should learn how to respect each other, regardless of position. Who the hell cares if they are managing directors, directors, VPs, or whatnot, if you are just trying to tell the truth of what is happening out there, on the floor. Chances are, they may like you for doing it. Or, they may not. If they do not appreciate your opinion then well, maybe it’s time for you to move on. Or you’re not a good fit for said company.
If you’re already bitching about something, be vocal about it and not just bitch about things to your friends. Other people/employees may feel the same way. By telling people what is wrong, they may finally realize employers are doing something wrong and FINALLY do things right. MAYBE. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream, right? UTOPIA!
For the record: yes, I do bitch about work. Everyone does at times: it’s human nature.
Then again a few people bitch about everything too. Not me, I mostly bitch about work. Or people cutting me in line. Or other things like not getting the shoes I wanted on a substantial discount. You get the drift.
Lesson Number Three:
You are dispensable in your company. You, your boss, your boss’s boss, everyone in the hierarchy is. Don’t BS yourself into thinking that the company cannot last a day without you. So there’s a huge hurricane or typhoon coming into town: it’s not the end of the world if you can’t go to work! And are you seriously thinking about going into work when there’s like 300kph (160mph) wind and rain coming at you from all directions? Your first instinct is to actually just duck and hunker down in your house or somewhere you feel is safe. Or cuddle with your stuffed bunny. To each their own.
It’s also not the end of the world if you took a vacation day, or got sick, or need to watch your kids if they are sick, or pick them up after school or whatnot.
People: a job is a job is a job. Even if you leave your current job, if you are active enough at looking for other opportunities be it in the same field or other fields, you can ALWAYS find something. We’re lucky enough in this day and age wherein we can make money from online as well as other means. It is the information age after all. Oh wait, and information is the key word here. If you know something that others don’t, that puts you at an advantage.
And people, they can replace you in an instant. With every new person that leaves a company, they spend oodles of money trying to replace and train. Then they leave and the cycle starts again. Even if you left, then another company will spend money to train you anyway. You just need to be open to learning new things!
So if they say goodbye to you tomorrow, don’t treat it with sorrow! If they let you go because they are downsizing then you should actually be happy: you get to walk out with more money than you think!
Lesson Number Four:
Your current job is not the only way to make money. We touched this briefly on number three. You can make a small business on the side selling arts and crafts or sewing things and earn money from that. You can do stuff online too! If you are great at doing graphic design, making websites, or I don’t know, grooming dogs, you can get paid on your own time outside of your work schedule. Stop watching TV and get on side hustling and working!
If you read our financial independence post, you’ll know that once you have Financial Independence as a goal, and you are slowly working towards it, you’ll actually have what they call F– You money. It’s pretty much money you have saved up that’s enough to tide you over to look for something that interests you. That or you can continue on, squeeze out the free money you can get from your 401(k) contributions and go bye bye when you reach your FI goal.
That or you start your own business and be successful enough to earn a substantial return for you. You be the judge of that.
Lesson Number Five:
You have a life outside of work. Don’t forget that. You have family, kids, significant others, partners, friends, acquaintances, online friends, whatever. You are a unique person with your own likes, dislikes, hobbies, and whatnot. Don’t let work eat up the full 24 hours of your day. Spend time doing what you like to do. If you like eating out with your friends and catching up, you can do that. You can do vlogs, blogs, or whatnot trying to chronicle what you are up to OUTSIDE OF WORK. You may be very active in certain social media circles: be it book clubs, travel blogs, or whatnot. You may even be famous online and nobody at work knows that you are!
The thing is: you are your own person. Don’t let work dictate who you are.
Lesson Number Six:
Distinguish which phase you are in: Work to Live or Live to Work? They may seem the same, but they are not. I for one am a Work to Live person. I work to earn money to live my life. I don’t live to work. Work does not define me (see lesson number five) nor does it form part of who I am. When you meet a person for the first time, one of the first things you get asked is: “What do you do?” and your first instinct will be to answer what your job is. Perhaps we should start asking people not, “What do you do”, but rather “What do you do outside of work?”
You can always say that I am living my life the way I want it to be.
*slow applause here*
Lesson Number Seven:
You can’t work forever. And when I say forever, I meant you can’t possibly work doing the same thing forever. Even if you are tenured and have been with a company for 25 years, you will eventually plan to retire or change careers. Even if you plan to work until you are 95, you can’t use the computer as well as you can when you were 25. If there are even computers that need human intervention in the year 2075 or something.
There will always be technological advances that will pop up. And know that some of them may not need you in the future too. So, what do you do? Do not panic. Create an exit plan.
Always have a backup plan because you’ll never know what the future holds. If you do know, can you please be nice enough to share it to the world? You’ll be famous you know, as maybe the next Nostradamus. Oh, and being famous means more money in your pockets.
WOOHOO FREE MONEY!
And so, fellow Cubicle Dwellers, these are some lessons I am imparting to you. I know every one of you knows this already and just needed a slap in the face as an awakening. Don’t be afraid to take a leap. One of my closest friends at work and mentors decided to leave a tenured job recently and moved to a country where he felt comfortable in. And you know what? That is okay! Everything is okay. It is your life, your personal decisions, and it is YOU.
Do not let work dictate your life, what you stand for, and let you down.
You are you, and embrace who you are and what you are.
Repeat after me: I am a strong person and while I do need my cubicle to survive right now, I will find ways to make it a small part of my life, and not a big part of it. I will find ways to remember all seven lessons above and remember it.
If you want to print those seven things then fine, do it. You can also write it down on a piece of paper, do whatever.
All I ask is that if you are frustrated about work, just think happy thoughts. Things that you are actually looking forward to (no, not going back to the cubicle the next day, or now, or after lunch).
Know that it is your life. And only YOU control your life.
Ruby, Your Fellow Cubicle Dweller (+Peter)
So, what makes me happy? In my case it’s getting to financial independence (not going to happen until 15-20 years from now maybe more maybe less, but hey at least I have something to look forward to) or travel (yay I’m going to Cuba next year), or even read a page or two of a book you are currently reading: be it Young Adult,
comics Graphic Novels, Business, or Non-Fiction.
Writing this post made me so happy and made me thankful that I still definitely know that my life is different from my work life, and there are several things that make me definitely happy and there are goals I am currently working towards. Writing this had been therapeutic and helped me move on. I’m glad that I have this outlet and grateful for it. Not many people do.