I finally walked away from my job. And I feel… flat … and angry. I believed I’d walk out the door and everything would be in technicolor like it was for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but it’s not. In fact it’s quite the contrary. I feel more like I’m in Night of the Living Dead. The anger and resentment I’ve been carrying for so long is boiling inside of me. I’m trying not to play the victim, but it’s hard not to.
When I first entered Corporate America I thought I was smart and capable, and people would recognize that. That delusion didn’t last long, and I learned very quickly to suck it up, and get a thick skin. That’s why they call it work, I told myself. You should be lucky to have a job that pays so much for so little. Peers and family couldn’t see what the problem was. “Are you nuts? You’re getting paid to fill a cube. Who cares if your boss has the IQ of a toad and the only intellectual stimulation you get is deciding where to go for lunch? Get over yourself.” I would go along with this line of thinking for a while, but eventually a spark in my soul would try to burn its way out of the mind-numbing fog of Cubeville, and I would start to question what I was doing in this world that was obviously trying to kill me through boredom, oppression and mediocrity. And then the hands would reach out of the fog and pull me back in, and I’d start thinking it wasn’t so bad, and this cycle continued on for the better part of 20 years. Then, a miracle occurred. The company I was working for went into bankruptcy, and loads of people were riffed. I waited every day with giddy anticipation of being the next one tapped on the shoulder, handed a box and shown the door. Finally, I thought, I can get out of this hell-hole and blame it on the Company, because I can’t just walk away on my own – everyone would think I was crazy. Getting riffed would be the perfect solution. But as fate would have it, I survived.
More neurons died slow and painful deaths and I stared at my cube walls and dreamed of causing bodily harm to my boss. I would come out of my stupor long enough to pots around online, and one day, I ran across Pamela Slim’s book and blog, “Escape from Cubicle Nation.” I woke up. The book became my manifesto. It gave me permission to admit I was miserable, and that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to leave Corporate America even though I had an allegedly “good job.”
The part of the book that really hit home was the discussion of thawing out your soul. Slim basically says that some people were never meant to fit into corporate life, and they spend so much energy playing the game that they can no longer access their true emotions. Symptoms of this include:
Not being able to identify what makes them happy
A feeling of numbness and emptiness
A feeling of burning rage
A feeling of powerlessness and loss of self
A sense of loneliness and loss of direction
OOOHH, OOOHH, I wanted to yell when I read this part – this is me, this is me!!! And I’M NOT CRAZY!!! So by hook or by crook, I decided to escape. I just walked away.
But that’s as far as I’ve made it. Barely out the door, and the demons are clawing at the door of that chapter of my life I’m trying so desperately to close behind me. I feel totally, completely and utterly defeated by Corporate America. I finally cracked and they won. The waste of human capital continues unabated; intelligent, sensitive, caring, logical and yes, business-savvy, people are trampled upon by idiots, back-stabbers, and most of all, ass-kissers. Corporate America goes on its merry way, happy to be rid of one more thorn in its side who was smart enough to play the game but not dumb enough to drink the kool-aid.