Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest post: Of the corporate wheel

5 years in, Ahmed Bakry tells us a little about his experience, as well as his thoughts and feelings about the whole thing.

I've only been working with Bakry for about 8 months now, and have notived how he's been ignoring his old and seemingly lost passion for writing. As an attempt to encourage him to get back to it all, I opted to post a piece of his writing here so you wonderful guys and gals could check it out and give him some constructive (unbiased) feedback. 

So, please read on and let him know your thoughts!


Why am I living in a materialistic, money driven, survival of the fittest, pressurized world ? Why am I living a life where everyday is a battle to preserve my position in the pecking order of the corporate which I work for ? Why am I constantly trying to improve myself and specialize myself in things that I don't really like in order to keep myself needed and keep myself from being relegated to the bench or worse, from being fired altogether ? In this battle I am referring to, I am completely on my own. The only allies You would have in such a battle are your family. By family I specifically mean mother, father and sibling. ( I would assume wife would also fit that category but then again I am not married so I wouldn't know ). Those allies however are only moral allies and cannot actually physically help you in this battle you have to endure everyday. Furthermore, these people will not be there forever and are also consumed by their own problems of the same kind which would maybe make your situation pale in comparison. Once the moral support you get from them stops for whatever reason ( ultimately death ) you are on your own out there. You are on your own in a world where everybody is a politician and by politician I mean a person who will play the dirtiest trick in the book to screw you if its in his best interest. For that, in order to survive you must be constantly on your toes, constantly on the lookout for such endeavours. That is the only way you shall survive! If you wish to strive, you MUST be a politician yourself, you must participate in the game and try to sleep at night giving yourself whatever excuses that would make you feel comfortable. Some people can do it but unfortunately some cannot and no matter how much you convince yourself, there is always that remaining honest part of you that never grew up since childhood and never got polluted like the rest of you that knows very well that you have betrayed your values. We are living in a world were politics have spread from governments and countries to your day to day life. We are living in a world where mistakes are not tolerated. What a ridiculous sentence! I am a human being, I will make mistakes. It is part of nature. How can I be denied part of my nature?  I am not saying I should be careless, but every now and then I shall screw up whether I like it or not. We are living in a world where only the best will do. It doesn't matter how you get there, it doesn't matter how many moral codes you've broken, JUST GET IT DONE AND SHOW ME THE MONEY. Why am I living in a world where I am constantly under pressure to perform a huge quantity of tasks and deliver an end product with flawless quality with little regards to what my capabilities can actually realize ? Why do such tasks take up all my time ( work + life ) to an extent that at times you wish the day had more than 24 hours or the week had more than 7 days so that you would able to finish before your deadline. That dreaded word " Deadline ". How many of us did not several times dread and curse this word during countless long sleepless nights ? Its like they say " Drive the car to the last drop of fuel....then continue driving all the same ". No thats not a famous saying, I just made that up now. I think it is a quite good metaphor to the way we are living our lives. Why is it the better I am at what I do the more expectations I need to deal with. By this logic the better you get the more expectations are expected of you which in turn gradually raise the pressure on you till the inevitable event of you cracking occurs and make no mistake about it, it will occur ( Isn't it ironic that you shouldn't make the mistake of assuming you shall not make a mistake ?? ). At this point not only do you feel the utter disappointment of failure but your failure is also less tolerated by your superiors than it would normally be from others as you already have created this image of yourself of a calculator like human being from which no errors are to be expected. Then you are humbled by your error and you start re-building your image from scratch until the next error which you can never completely avoid but you try to postpone to the best of your abilities. Otherwise you risk losing your name in the organization chart.

Part of your soul must die in agony with every passing day under such circumstances until at the end you are rendered soul-less. Just another robot working on the production line doing his part so the big guy upstairs can afford his private jet.

I have nothing against the man. He can buy all he wants and do as he pleases....but by what logic does he enjoy that luxury and I am deprived of it. Why do I no longer have time to enjoy my hobbies ? Why do I no longer have the luxury to plan a trip abroad? Most basically why do I no longer have a chance to look into my soul and explore myself? Why am I staring at figures, numbers and emails for 9 hours a day and the rest of the day I am busy thinking about similar figures, number and emails that I will inevitably see the next day...and the next day....and the next day....and the next day. Why do weekends never seem enough any longer? Why do I start to worry about Monday morning by Saturday evening? Why can't I completely engross myself in an activity without the back part of my brain thinking about the next meeting at work? One of the few things or perhaps the only thing left that I could safely say takes up my undivided attention is the thought of a girl to which I have deep feelings for. But that’s another story for another day.

Is it the myth of financial security? I say a myth but I am not really sure. At the end of the day you need to put food on the table. You need to survive. But does it have to be a choice between survival and happiness. Is there no formula where you can combine the two? Is there such a thing as happy survival? Can I maintain "survival" while preserving "happy"? Getting a paycheque towards the end of every month is pleasing but I would certainly not call it happiness. At best I would call it a volatile pleasing sensation before you start cutting chunks out of this paycheque to pay the bills of stuff you yourself don't really need but they're needed to preserve your role as a gear in the evil corporate giant wheel. For example, the phone bill and the internet bill. Sure these are 2 essential tools in any person's life but you would survive without them. However you would be rendered useless by your corporate without them. What good are you without a phone and internet to your company? Office hours are not enough. One of the downsides ( well that is relative really ) to the invention of blackberries and IPhones is that working hours have expanded from 9/5 to 24/7. Without phone and internet you are restricted to 9/5 therefore you are useless.

So back to our main point, WHY? AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT? One not so popular opinion is to take a risk. Take a leap of faith. Throw it all behind in search and pursuit of the unknown. The unknown is vague and unclear. Vague and unclear is scary. Specially considering the way modern society has programmed us. You must have a plan. Go for the university which provides more job opportunities. At least that’s how it worked when and where I grew up. During my teenage years those were engineering school, medical school, pharmacy school and business school. But I like writing! The all too convincing answer I would usually think of to such a thought "Do you wanna end up begging at the streets". Don't get me wrong, I do not blame who gave me those answers. In the end they had my best interest in mind, they said it out of love and they might very well be right about it. We have been brought up in way were we always need to have some sort of plan. It does not necessarily have to be a good plan, but it just needs to be there. Like a guideline guiding us to wherever we go. So to snap out of this program after 28 years is not a thought to be taken lightly. Specially when you have grown accustomed to a certain standard of living. Would you risk your life as you know it? Would you risk guaranteed survival with little to no happiness (Moderate happiness at most) in pursuit of pure happiness but also with the possibility of absolute misery should the risk not pay off with no way back? If you had asked me this question a year ago...no 6 months ago I would have answered HELL NO. However as time passes I find myself tempted to flirt with the idea of a " Yes ". Life is not fair by nature so the least we could do is be fair to ourselves...not the other way around at the expense of some paycheque at the end of the month. A paycheque most of which is spent on items which you are under the illusion are useful to you but in fact they bolster the very corporate that gave you that cheque. Its like someone giving you money, tells you its yours in return for some favour but asks you to buy him stuff with the money you made and you do so willingly. Well maybe I am exaggerating a bit with that last sentence, but its pretty damn close.

To be continued.


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