Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 2 - WORK (Part A)

It’s not about what I do for a living it’s about how it makes me feel and what happens around the work week.

I'm a bit nervous as to who my blog reaches. I don't want current or prospective employers to get the wrong idea but I guess that's the risk putting something like this out there. No matter what I do for work whether I like it or not I am generally a model employee. It's a strength as much as it's a weakness (to myself). I've done many jobs. Taught English in Taiwan. Slung coffees as a barista. Lived and sold camping equipment as a way of life. I've even danced on the side of the road in a clown costume with a sign for a flower shop. Yup, I was pretty stellar at that one too. 

Right now?
In a nutshell:
I am an Architectural Technologist. I draw houses ALL DAY. I have no need to talk to anybody at work ever. I don’t receive emails or phone calls that hold any great importance. I don’t participate in meetings outside of an occasional snore fest. I hardly ever talk to co-workers or bosses because there’s just very little need to. I spend my time day after day sitting on my ass staring at a computer and drawing the same houses over and over. I don’t love it, as you can tell. I don’t hate it either, it’s what I studied and trained to do so there must’ve been some kind of reason for it.

For a change I am not going to be self depreciating and say I'm damn fucking good at what I do. I can say that with honesty because I know it's true. It's one of the only things in my life that I'm actually really good at. I suppose that's why I'm still here doing it after 10 years.
When I was a wee kidlet I dreamt of being an architect. Specifically a big fancy house designer. I followed this dream to a certain level but lacked the self-confidence and motivation to take it further. So here I am, not exactly what I expected. I am not particularly social or outgoing but having to deal with people would at least make my days slightly more interesting. I don’t like my personal life interacting with my work life which is probably a culprit to why I feel so much self-isolation. The reason for that is simple; I share nothing in common with the people I work with. I am only close with one person and he's hopefully the only one who would read this. (HI!)

a la Tim Burton styles
 I feel like I achieved half my childhood dream. I am drawing houses and working in the field I always wanted. Except I work for a large company and I am just another cog in the wheel. Can you say “cookie cutter?”. Could I have gone the rest of the way? I wanted to at one point, but lost the motivation at the thought of many more years of school complete with suffocating debt. That didn’t seem like the right decision to make. I had to admit that I missed the boat on that one. I kind of fucked up.
It was when I started seeing my work as something I don’t fully and morally agree with that it all started falling apart. I have strong beliefs on how we occupy space and the whacked goals as society we have grown to strive for. Big houses. Too many rooms that get filled with “STUFF”. I became interested in minimalism and ecological architecture. Earthships, alternative energies and environmental impact are actually important to me.  Except I don’t have the skills to try and force those beliefs into the industry. Who would listen to me? I have no voice. I’m just a CAD monkey.

Where the "magic" (??!!?!?) happens.
Do you know how many years I’ve been secretly telling myself to just shut the fuck up and suck it up? I’ve tried to force myself to be complacent with it. To use a scary word, “SETTLE”. Just go to work, put your 40 hours/week in. Take your measly 10 days of vacation a year and just deal with it. Why do I have to gain some sort of satisfaction? Why can’t I just BE that cog? Does it really matter how I make money and just that I make money? I have a very good job in my industry. One many people would probably suck dicks to get. I get paid well. I have health insurance. SO WHY CAN’T I JUST BE HAPPY WITH IT? What more do I want? Why do I keep expecting that proverbial fence where the grass is greener o’er yonder?
The real reason why I’m still here is that I’m just too damn anxious about the unknown. The thought of starting my own business is overwhelming. I know full-well that’s not something I’m capable of. Why? My anxiety. It’s too much to bear and be responsible for. Not having a steady income or good health insurance isn’t an option. I just know myself well enough to say I wouldn’t survive something like that. I’m not good at it. I also wanted to be an artist when I was a kidlet. I think I am predisposed to the creative side of things without the pressure of managing shit.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. It’s turning into a really fucked up thought process.
In the end I don’t morally agree with the wee cog that I am. I feel like I contribute nothing to society and in return receive zero feelings of worth and reward with the work I do. I’m surprised I haven’t been replaced by a machine yet. Most people probably wouldn’t care but I actually enjoy it when I am doing something I feel good about. I’ve never really felt good about this career. I blame me. 
The only job I ever had that left me feeling like it was worth it was when I worked in a camping goods store/outfitters. It was the best job I ever had despite making the least amount of money ever. There was reward and satisfaction. I felt like I belonged and was actually appreciated.
I’m really not sure what else in life I would do but I’ve been slowly contemplating other career moves for more years than its safe to admit. I’d probably be happy working in a gluten free bakery – but I have never been successful at making my own GF bread. Or a greenhouse – but I don’t know anything formal about green things. Or a bike shop - but I actually don't know much about bikes, just how to ride 'em. I taught English in Taiwan for 2 years and enjoyed the reward from that – but I’m not going overseas again. One thing is for sure, something close to home would make life with anxiety so much easier. That leads me to a veritable segue…
to be continued …


  1. It sounds like you're on the cusp/brink of making a leap. I predict cover of Dwell "tiny house" issue 2017.

    You can still do anything you dream up. You are not old. Even if you WERE old, you could do anything your mind cooks up. But you do need health insurance. But you are Canadian, so wouldn't you always have some kind of something?

    1. That's a cute idea with the dwell mag. I can only wish.

      Contrary to popular belief we do have free health care but not free prescriptions. Also, it's very difficult (nearly impossible because I tried) to get private health insurance without it costing more than it would to just buy stuff out right.

      We have programs for people who are poor but those programs don't help those of us who have good paying jobs. Therefore, I'd still have to shell out the $300+ a month just for strips, needles and insulin. out of pocket.

  2. Hmm... that's a tough one. As you know, I can totally relate to where you're coming from, leaving a secure job that was once a dream job. It was a super tough decision, and had Big Ring not had medical coverage for me, I don't know if I would have done it... maybe... school has a pretty good medical plan. The prospect of debt scares the bejesus out of me too. But the prospect of staying in a career that was making me more and more miserable was even scarier. You have to do what's right for you and what works for you.

    Waiting for the "continued" ...

    1. It's so many things. But the big thing is money. We can't afford for me to take a pay cut in any way. and the health insurance... ouch.

  3. Judging from your post I honestly believe you got the goods and you can make it big in any endeavor because you have the passion and expertise and they're innate. Probably the only thing you need to mobilize things is a partner who is a little more opposite to your sort of introverted character. Just my point of view. It's time to reward yourself by going for something you truly will be happy to be in...:)

    1. that's exactly it. If I had a business partner who could take up where I fail it would be golden.

  4. I could copy your post into my blog and it would apply (minus the fun jobs you did). I am practically in tears every morning going to work. My job is extremely unsatisfying unfortunately I have been doing it so long that I have become somewhat of an "expert". I am also not motivated to grow in my career because I have no interest in it. It is hard to leave because it lets me do all the things I like to do when I'm not working. I am scared to leave also because of the health insurance. I have been given some coaching opportunities but the pay cut would be HUGE and who knows if that is what I would really like or if I would be good at it. I feel trapped.

  5. I was in the same place you're in about five years ago, plus my diabetes was really wearing on me. In the end, I did decide to stay at my job and it is much better now. I don't have any suggestions for you... I just wanted to let you know that things can change, and we often don't know when or how. Hang in there... I'm still a big fan!

  6. I just lost my very profound comment. Sigh.
    I like that Katy mentioned the "tiny houses." I usually think about you when I read about them.
    If you want us to set up a call list so you get a call each day at work, we can do that.
    I hope you can find a way to be happy with your job. There has to be a way!
    And this time, I'm copying this before I hit publish. So, there!

  7. So I just commented on "Part B" before reading "Part A" (and I have no idea if it took....I hope it did, lots of that applies here, too).

    I'm in a similar situation. When I was younger, I was all in to technology and engineering and stuff. Not people. Now, I realize that the "engineering" that I do just rips off the incompetent public agencies that are our clients, who ultimately rip off the taxpayers, tollpayers, and farepayers that go to fund these public agencies. There is a moral dilemma in what I do, and continuing to justify it with "it helps me to pay my bills" will only make me turn dark inside. I really wish I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up.... but at this stage in life, I'm not sure I can afford a change.


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