On some days, I wake up and feel that my life makes so much sense, and other days I wake up and feel delusional, like completely, utterly and absolutely delusional. This feeling is something that I have only started experiencing recently, though, due to recent events that have taken place in my life.
Corporate vibes… R.I.P
Almost three years ago, I started working at a technology consulting company in Cape Town. Life was great, I was at a cool place, surrounded by cool people and I was getting paid quite a cool salary for 21-year-old foreigner, living in South Africa, who just finished a Computer Science honours degree at the prestigious University of Cape Town. Culture-wise, this company, was probably one of the best places I could have started working after having completed my studies. I enjoyed the people I was surrounded by and I also enjoyed the post-work activities that we took part it. For the most part, it felt like a home away from home – which was great.
The actual work, on the other hand, I can’t really vouch for much, unfortunately. I really don’t understand how companies think they can hire smart, educated, ambitious people, and then make them do trivial grunt work for long periods of time – the reasoning (or lack thereof) in that, I completely fail to understand. No matter how high the salary, no matter how attractive the perks, no matter what fancy title you give me, I am not a mindless hamster – and will not be treated like one. This is one of the fallacies that we as young people are continually faced with; we leave school with our wealth of academic experience and our numerous flashy degrees and then think that these companies will bring us on board and hand us the exciting, stimulating and challenging work that we have been preparing ourselves for, for literally our whole lives… Uhm, yeah, no – save yourself, don’t be fooled by the propaganda.
Naturally, I wasn’t there for too long, 19 months later, on October 2015, I resigned. Not because I received a better offer elsewhere (I didn’t even consider looking), not because there was anything wrong with the people I worked with (they were a great bunch of people), and not because I wanted more money (money was the last thing on my mind). I left because – number 1 – I honestly just wasn’t being fulfilled. Number 2 – I had personal ventures that I wanted to focus on. And – number 3 – I honestly just didn’t like waking up every damn day to go and do someone else’s bidding, simple as that. It just didn’t make sense to me, at all, I feel like my ancestors done picked enough cotton…Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.
‘Entrepreneur’, bleh, I detest this word. Why? Let’s be honest, everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days – it’s like an implicit right of passage for us millennials. People are Founders and CEOs of non-existent companies on their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, meanwhile back at the ranch you are just an employee at IStillLiveAtHomeWithMyMother (Pty) Ltd. In this modern day and age, saying you are an entrepreneur can mean anything from “I occasionally have ideas while I sit on the toilet to take a dump” to “I sell second hand items on Gumtree, in my spare time, when I’m bored”. Do I want to be categorised with such people ? Uhm… yeah…no, not really. So while I might say I’m an ‘entrepreneur’ on my multiple online platforms (my blogs and my personal website etc), that’s just for the sake of relating to other people. Because if I just say I’m a software developer, then people all of a sudden think that I lock myself up in my room all day and just stare at 1s and 0s on my computer. Uhm, yeah…no. While I do admittedly love coding (I really love making computers do my bidding), it’s not solely about if-statements and while-loops for me. As arrogant and self-centered as it possibly may sound, I work best when I’m working on my own ideas and/or when I’m completely in control of the project (…and my life). It’s probably a combination of being introverted, business-minded and fascinated with programming. I don’t even flinch at opportunities to work at Google, Microsoft or Facebook anymore and I have come to realize that I honestly just don’t really make out for a great employee anyways… Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.
So why do I think I’m delusional? Well for a few reasons really:
1 Financially, almost 3 YEARS AGO I was getting double what I am personally (keeping in mind the GAAP Business Entity concept) making right now.
Does that bother me? Nope, why? Because I’m living life on my own terms now (for the most part). So as long as I can have my head above the water, I’m perfectly fine. Look I’m still relatively quite young, so I’ll revise this statement when I hit 30 or get a child – whichever comes first. On top of this, I am well aware that if I carried on climbing up the corporate ladder I would eeeasily be getting about 3x what I am making now (..ouch :/) … Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.
2 I refuse to separate ‘work’ and ‘life’.
Right now, I run my own company (with my two lovely business partners), and I have been for the past year or so and everything I seem to do now – in the name of my company – seems natural and effortless, so it’s not really ‘work’ to me. And I refuse to separate the two, I don’t believe that I should wake up and switch into ‘work’ mode, then go home and return back into ‘life’ mode, as I desperately wait for the weekend/holidays to arrive, week in, week out, uhm yeah….no. These days, there is a lot of talk about doing what you love and living out your passion, and while I don’t think that this is practical for everyone – because we live in a capitalist society, life is tough and money doesn’t grow on trees – I am still a firm believer that I can enjoy every single day of my life, and still make tonnes of money at the same time. Is this common, statistically speaking, not really. Is this possible, yes, definitely… Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.
3 I’m taking quite a few ‘risks’ right now.
Firstly, there are a few risky things that I’m doing right now that not a lot of people my age are doing. Secondly, there are many more lucrative things that I could easily be doing right now, that a lot of people my age, only dream of doing, yet I still actively choose not to. An occasional thought that I do have, is that at the end of it all, I may find out that I completely misread the signs and took the wrong path, and that I should actually, in fact, be doing something else. There is always an element of cognitive dissonance creeping into the fray, but I constantly overpower this negativity and doubt, why? because this just feels right. Yes, it might not be lavish, stable or lucrative in its current form, but I believe that it will pay off materially eventually, wherever and whoever I end up being….Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.
The truth is that we are all learning how to maneuver in this life thing, and as confident as I may be in my current choices and decisions, there might be a better, more aligned path out there for me – but I definitely won’t find that out by sitting in my room meditating on it for the rest of my life, I can only do so by mastering the balancing the act of actively following the path of least resistance and continuously driving forward amidst all the adversity that I encounter along the way, no matter how crazy it makes me seem and feel.
Some days I call this ambition, other days I call it delusion.