Maxim Monday - 133 - Do Not Be Discontented by Life - Part 1
Τω βιω μη αχθου
|Approximate (phonetic) transliteration||Toe Bio Me Akhthoy|
|Typical translation||Do Not Be Discontented by Life|
Of all the Maxims, this is the one that takes the most mental work. In a general sense, it says not to become jaded by life. We all want to avoid becoming the crotchety old man who thinks everything sucks. Of course, this is much easier said than done.
My Old Job
I hated my old job. I loved the work and some of my co-workers, but the environment was the worst I have ever seen. When I was an intern, companies would hire me because I was cheap and could do the tedious work. Usually, these companies just had massive layoffs and were using interns to hold things together as the company collapsed. Morale was extremely low at these places, and the misery was infectious.
My last job was much, much worse than that. There were once voluntary layoffs, but the company stopped doing that because too many people were volunteering. We couldn't take lunch breaks with friends because we may take too long. There was no such thing as free time for months. You went home, slept little, and came right back, all the while getting phone calls from work. Not going to work on a Saturday or a Sunday was half-jokingly referred to as a vacation.
At the end, management was given bonuses for the accomplishment for the engineers' unpaid overtime. Engineers were laid off. We were unnecessary overhead to a finished product. I left right before that, and I was relieved. We sometimes had 3-4 people in a cubicle. The fact that I was a software engineer without access to a computer was icing on the cake.
There is a lot more that I can't write here. Words can't describe how much we hated it. This site started as a way for me to vent during software compile cycles.
My New Job, and the Difference in Office Humor
The minute I could legally leave my job, I did. I started looking months before I could leave, and it paid off.
Any time something went wrong at my old job, we make jokes about how we were about to be fired for it. If one of us had a bug in the software we wrote, we'd say something like, "I guess I'll update my resumé."
I've been at my new job for over a year and a half now. Moving to this company is the greatest decision I've ever made, and I'm fortunate to have it. Ever since I did, I noticed a lot changed about my humor and my writing.
A few weeks ago, I made the resumé updating joke when a test system crashed. My co-workers looked at me, horrified. One person said to me, "Don't say that. It's not that bad, really." There was genuine concern in his voice. I went over the time I've been here in my head, and I realized that no one has ever said a joke like that to me.
No one makes jokes about the conditions here. Anyone who does complain is the type of person who complains about everything, and the complaints are always minor. It's usually something like how years ago, when the company had half as many employees, they could always get a parking spot by the door instead of 20m away from it. I don't count those.
My job was ruining my life so much that I felt it wasn't even worth living. With that kind of depression, I wasn't truly living anyway. With the help of my girlfriend who took way more bullshit from me than was fair, instead of giving up in life, I realized that the source of everything wrong and terrible came from my job. Then, I had an epiphany: if my job was going to treat me like shit, I didn't have to care anymore. I stopped caring about the rest of my life because of my job, so what was I losing? I wanted to be laid off; I'd get a severance package and I wouldn't need to be there anymore.
I used my absolute hatred of my job to fuel me. I started telling myself, "I will escape from this place, even if it's the last fucking thing I do." It's amazing how much burden is lost when a person can identify a life-ruining problem. Once the problem is identified, and if you're willing to make the necessary sacrifices, there's virtually no limit to the extent you can change your life.
Now, my job doesn't ruin me. It brings me joy. This was the first step I needed take to finally become not only content with my life, but truly happy with it.
This article really got away from me, so I'm splitting it into multiple parts. Stay tuned for part 2.