When I graduated college and started in my corporate job, I had a feeling of staleness wash over me. I couldn’t help this feeling of being another brick in the wall, another cog in the machine. Perhaps that’s because I am.
To get this job, I had worked and studied seven days a week in college. I had networked, spent every break in an internship, and would get up at 3-4 a.m. to achieve optimal productivity. I had wanted this, right? I worked so hard for it.
A few years later in the corporate world and I have felt my creativity being sucked out of me. Though at the same time, I understand how some people do this for a lifetime. Now I am so used to being another brick in the wall, I don’t even notice that I am one. Most of the time it doesn’t faze me. Besides, this is just what people do, right? Work in this job, get married, buy a house…
Yes, most do. Part of me had accepted this as life. I started to plan my next finance job up the ladder and thought all I needed to do was move cities. A new environment, a fresh start, that would make this feeling go away. Whatever feeling this was—I wasn’t sure exactly.
Then COVID happened. My industry took a massive hit and my pay was reduced around 50% overnight. Fears of being laid off occupied my mind. I watched as my mentor, boss, and friend was kicked out the door after over 25 years with the company. My mind was again overcome with the idea that we are all just bricks—regardless of how high up on the wall, you are just a replaceable brick.
So now what? Is there a happy ending? How do we overcome this?
Yes we can practice gratitude daily and get ourselves to feel happy about our jobs. I’ve tried this, it works. Or distract ourselves on the weekends, whether that is with alcohol or climbing 400 feet up a rock wall with fear pulsing through our veins. I’ve tried these too, they also sort of work. It’s not the worst way to handle this.
Or you can wake up and recognize that you aren’t fulfilled. You can start to shape what being fulfilled might look like for a career and life. You can stop buying new cars, new shoes, and everything else and instead save towards your freedom. Money is power, money is freedom. And a financial buffer is powerful.
Then leave and travel the world and discover ways of work and life that are fulfilling. Fund the trip by working as you go and come back with a new plan to work. Or start a small business in which every hour you pour in is building something larger, and this time it is in your name. There are so many options and ideas to explore in this great wide world. We can’t let our lives slide by as another corporate brick in the wall. Can we break free and see what this world has to offer? What do we have to lose?