Today is my last day working as a Graphic Production Coordinator for a company here in Stockholm. Since April 2008 I have been working on the non-creative side (working from other people’s designs) of producing templates for web-to-print services (Our customers, for example, offer a service whereby you can quickly and easily put together printed material such as brochures or business cards on-line, without the need for a designer).
Needless to say it wasn’t really what I had applied to do, and despite doing very well in learning the specialized software with very little training or support it has not been a very creative or fulfilling job. But it served a purpose at the time, and I really do believe that I wasn’t meant to immerse myself in this job for too long as it was distracting me from a more magical, fulfilling and authentic life.
Last summer, after spending too many stressful and frustrating hours out of my precious days on this work, I asked if I could reduce by working hours to 60% so that I could have the space and energy to start navigating my life back to the plan I had made several years previously; namely to be able to spend more time working with the things that truly bring me joy, and preferably working from home, or at least locally to avoid expensive, time consuming and joyless commuting.
Fortunately, the company I have been working for has been pretty relaxed, unlike some of the places I have worked where there has been a formal dress code, and where I would get slapped wrists for being literally 2 minutes late for work, despite frequently putting in unpaid overtime! Maybe if this company had been more draconian, I would have quit earlier, but I almost got comfortable in my daily subtle drudgery. It is frighteningly easy to quickly slip into the routine of commute – work – commute – eat, then aim to distract ourselves from the sickening truth that we are forced to press ‘repeat’ the next day, and the next, until Saturday comes when we are left standing stranded in the wasteland of our ‘free time’ unused to being able to direct two whole days of our life as we please. Well, free apart from the chores we need to carry out in order to support the following week’s toil: ironing clothes, making lunch boxes, going shopping to buy comfort food and drink that that will get us through the working days…
Thankfully since going down to part time (I will write a blog post one day to share how I could afford to work less) it wasn’t as bad as all that…but the memories of several years of working full-time in soul-shriveling jobs still stings me today. So now, at the age of 32, I finally feel that I am beginning to see the path that I wish I saw during my university days. University; what a scam! As teenagers we are told: ‘Get an education, and if you knuckle down you will soar to the top of your field, being rewarded for your hard work with support, praise and promotions’. Wrong! Life wasn’t like that for me or most of the people I know in those almost random jobs one gets. It’s as Michael Cera’s character, George Michael, says in the series ‘Arrested Development’ as he panics the night before an exam: “If I fail at Math then I wont get a chance at being happy by working hard for the rest of my life”.
I truly hope that you wont recognize this pattern as you have been financially rewarded for doing the things you love, and that you have maintained your authentic self and path. I hope that when you hear the line from the film ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’: “From now on your name is no longer David Webb, It’s Jason Bourne. Welcome to the programme…” you don’t flinch and twitch and flick nervously through your mind between images of uncomfortable office wear; pointless meetings with dull and moaning co-workers; idiotic bosses; packed commuter trains; and a slowly deflating heart.
For me – who did flinch at that line – this is a really exciting start. But it has taken ten years since entering the ‘working world’ to get to this point. And this point is only the equivalent of deciding to go to the map shop to buy the map! I know which map I want to buy and I roughly know which navigational tools can help me get there, but it’s going to be slightly experimental as to how I move towards a life of joyful work. I do know though that, where ever I end up, this is the right thing for me. I hope you will enjoy what I can share from my journey!