A Letter from One Out-of-work Friend to Another…
I understand what you are going through is hard but come to think about it.
As working-class middle-aged office-goers, it is unlikely that we will get an opportunity like what we have today, while still in reasonably good health, to take that much needed break - a break that is completely free from office obligations, without us having to worry about deadlines, emails or escalations.
If we look back on the many years from the time we started working as young graduates, how many times did we take a time out for living an experience that we could cherish for the rest of our life?
Even those rare vacation breaks we had had been plagued with office phone calls and we've rarely been a day away from our office emails.
When we were working our full-time jobs, we couldn’t wait for the day to end and heave a sigh of relief and when we were between jobs, we were frantically searching to get into one - applying to any and every mediocre company that could take us in - because we are scared of the bills that would pile up otherwise.
We let the best years of our twenties slip away trying to build a career with perhaps just a few stolen weekend hours to enjoy a beer or a game on TV.
We let most of our thirties slide away while still running the endless corporate rat race - our stakes were now raised because we started our own families for whom we became the primary breadwinners.
And we know that in all probability, when we slither into our forties, we’ll still be slaving away – after all, we’re up the hierarchy now and it is very competitive on the top!
All through these years, we stifled our creativity and opinion and put up with bad bosses, mediocre colleagues, and office politics thinking about the bigger picture – the one-line statement in our bank account that said – ‘salary credited’ – because there were rent or bills to be paid, tuition fees for children and whatnot.
Caught in the trivialities of everyday life that we forgot to actually live one. And in the end, we'll probably say, we did it all for our children - an excuse we console ourselves with and one that most probably our children will tell theirs one generation down the road.
For most of us, that life and perspective changing backpacking journey or road trip that we promised ourselves never happened and may never will. That great novel we wanted to write, will remain words lost in our heads. For the musicians among us, the songs we wrote and performed to little crowds of people years ago, are already fading from memory and probably will never be sung or heard again. Every little talent we nourished in our youth more often than not die a slow death.
And one day we will wake up, stare at our 65-year-old faces in the mirror, feel the pain of our aching arthritic backs, and will be wondering how life passed us by. Some of us will be grandparents living off our meagre savings or on the goodwill of our children, and others might still be working to still make ends meet. All we can know for certain is that we'll reach old age eventually unless of course we die young.
It is said that one the greatest regret of those on their deathbed is that they wished they hadn't worked too hard.
The religious ones among us will of course pray - we'll get a chance again in our after-lives they will say.
Today, we really need to look at ourselves and think about where we stand - despite all the effort we put in, all the years of our lives we gave that we'll never get back, we are faced with the uncertainty of unemployment today without having much of idea of what lies ahead.
Or if we look at it differently, maybe it's just life giving us one more chance to try shooting that hoop we missed - to do the things we couldn't or have been putting away for years, to experience life far moved from that dog-eat-dog world, to hone those long forgotten little talents, or to try something different for a while.
Tomorrow, we may probably start working for another corporate, living from pay-check to pay-check, in exchange for the remaining good years of our lives, and we'll be so busy with it that we'll probably not have time to give life another thought - maybe till we're in the same situation again - or worse - far older, without the luxury our youth (or whatever is left of it) even.
Let’s not fool ourselves, despite all our years in a corporate, not all of us will become CEOs (and not everyone wishes to be) - most of us will remain just loyal foot soldiers - useful till we get old and leave on our own or are replaced by younger more enthusiastic pawns.
Today we are at that idiomatic ‘crossroad’ of our lives. Without a job, we probably don’t have enough money in the bank that we’re comfortable with, and we may have apprehensions about what we do next – take time out or jump into a job immediately as soon as the opportunity lands or try something different?
Perhaps you may have a different view, but I know I want to do something that I can proudly look back on when I’m old and tell myself – despite all the shit that life threw at me, it did give me that one unexpected chance, and I took it – for better or worse, and I am glad that I did.
After all, a job is something that’s certain to come along sooner or later, but life – that’s something that happens just once…
With Warm Regards,
Your Good Old Office Friend…
Note: Also published on the author's blog at https://sixstringsforsupper.wordpress.com
Very inspiring article.... I am actually in my mid 20s and thinking of switching my career paths. Not only am I terrified of the thought that I may not achieve desired success in my new venture but also worry that the experience I have gained in my current role will amount to nothing further in my career.
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