Trapped in the Cubicle

I just want to say that I love hearing from my readers.  I don’t get many comments on my actual blog–most conversation happens either on Twitter, Facebook, via personal messages, or through face-to-face discussion.  I’m not sure what that is, but I think it has something to do with how personal a topic is like this for so many.  There’s a stigma associated with unemployment/underemployment, and I’m not sure people are all that willing to talk about it publicly.  No one wants to admit they’re unhappy when we’re supposed to be in the most exciting and optimistic time of our lives.  Through the people I have talked with, though, I am learning that my story is the story of many people out there, just in slightly different forms.

I recently got a Facebook message from someone who has graciously allowed me to republish it here.  I think they had some interesting thoughts on being young and frustrated, and I think you all might think so, too (name and business ideas left out for respect of the author):

Hey Allison,

I was reading a few articles in your blog, about living life after graduation, and wanted to comment a little bit on something.

I also played by the rules, did what “good” people should do by graduating college and then fortunately getting a job that has a decent salary. But, I’m unhappy.

I’m unhappy because I waste 5 days of my life sitting in a cubicle, programming a f****** computer in a way that doesn’t help many people, while being only able to see the person that I love for 2 days out of the week. What I do is program computers so that people can have faster hard drives in their computers. To some, it may sound mind-stimulating, but for me, it is a waste of time. The only good parts of my job are the salary and the skills that I gain, but ultimately, I’m unhappy. The salary, sure, compared to many other jobs, I am fortunate. However, it’s barely enough to sustain a living. I know that perhaps you feel that I am exaggerating and being inconsiderate, but I really feel like I feel the same way you do. In short, my conclusion is that money really does not bring happiness, and if we cannot find a way to be happy with the life we have now, any amount of money wouldn’t make a difference. Many people say this, but I find it easier to believe if I share it with someone else and hear myself repeat it.

The times where I feel true satisfaction is when I can help other people. Then, I feel that life is worthwhile, and I am happy. If I could change one person’s life everyday, then I can be happy for the rest of my life, even if I wasn’t paid. (there are some caveats like providing care for your future children, etc.)

That’s mostly all I wanted to say.

Well, thanks for listening.

I think they hit it pretty much right on the head with the “helping other people” comment.  There is a lot of truth in that statement, and our generation has shown up in extraordinary numbers for volunteer positions to do just that.  It’s just hard to see so many of us waste away at mind-numbing jobs, especially when some feel trapped there by a decent paycheck.  Do we leave the paycheck and follow our heart to help?  Or, do we stay and remain miserable?  Is there a way to do both without going crazy?

Would you share your story with me?  How have you maintained sanity in a mind-numbing job?  What is it that gives you satisfaction in the midst of unhappiness?  Love?  Volunteering?  Music?

Keep writing, folks!  It’s good to know we’re not alone.