Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Hollow Men

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

Ends of The Hollow Men by T.S. Elliot

Some say it's one of the most quoted lines in all of poetry and possibly writing itself. It certainly is one of the most recognizable.

Those words have been applied to many a situation, and here I am doing the same.

When I last wrote, I was still caught in the euphoria that was preparing for my grand entry into the adult world. A land of milk and honey. Lavish corporate spending to make me, to make us, the new hires, feel special. Feel appreciated. Feel like we were the shiniest toys on the shelf of FAO Schwarz with dozens of doey eyed children pining for us. In the weeks since, things have changed. A mere week after I wrote that post, I returned home back East. I was excited. I was going to be joining my peers on the battlefront, courting clients, being the invincible warrior they made us believe we were.

I pined to be back East. The West coast was beautiful. It was fun, it was quirky. Sure, the people were slow and living in a hotel grew old, but now I yearn for those moments back. As much as I hated being in training all day with some questionable people in conference rooms with little real sunlight, it was engaging. It was interesting to learn. And as much as I did not recognize it as much then, it was fun.

Sitting in my cube all day makes me realize just star struck and manipulated my view can become. I lost touch with reality. The real world is not day after day of cater lunches, freshly made beds, clean wash cloths, and perfect 75 degree weather. It's hours on the phone, hours building hideously long excel spreadsheets, hours using software and tools you are told are amazing when in reality they make you angry half the time and work properly even less than that. Sure, the benefits are great and I nearly doubled the household income off the bat, but maybe I should have made sure I kept a hold on my expectations. Training is in no way realistic to the what actually happens on a day to day basis. I am not going to have brilliant conversations day in and day out. I will not have the luxury of having contacts and beautiful information to work with, bequeathed to me from my predecessor. Every day will be spent in the monotonous routine of figuring out what I want to do with limited direction and people who I can almost never reach even if they tell me to call them at any time.

I charged into the battlefield ready to take on the world. I hoped to dive into the fray with a bang, instead, I often find myself questioning and whimpering. Maybe I should have slowed down. Maybe I'm still stuck in the bottom bowl of the U-shaped culture shock curve. Not even three months in to my job and I already feel like I may have made a mistake.

I told myself  and others, "No, no, I like doing this stuff." I believed myself then. I genuinely did. But looking back, I have to think, did I just say that so much that I believed in my own lie? It's hard not to sound like a whiny brat when I'm complaining about a having a job when so many in my shoes are jobless. Thousands of college graduates would probably love to be where I am now - employed, meeting my metrics, and being so close to DC. But I always expected I would do more.

I want my career to be in a field and with me doing something that I love, and in the role I am in and in the industry I am in, that is not the case. Sure, there is plenty of room for career development in my company, and if and when I choose to change my line business, maybe it will all suddenly be better. But as of now, all I feel like I'm counting the days until I can move on to a my next adventure. I will kick ass at whatever job I'm at. The only thing that I fear more than failing others is failing myself. I set the bar high for myself because I know that's when I work best.

So maybe I will have to bite the bullet and go along with the cold routine at least until I reach the one year mark. Maybe then I can move to somewhere new. Maybe then I can find that job that clicks. And maybe then that job will also end up being not what I was hoping to do. I may go through three, five, hell, maybe even ten jobs before I find "the one," but one day I know I will find it.

And I will wake up happy and excited to go to work. 



  1. Well, I feel you brother. One of the hardest thing for me to adjust to after I finished graduate school was the idea of working. All day. Every day. School offered breaks. Sure there was hard work, and a part time job, but it wasn't an everyday, 8-5 (or more) grind. Give yourself a chance to get used to that - you will.

    That's a different issue from whether you're doing what is right for you. Only you can know that. My only thought here is don't get caught up in believing that you're going to find any job that you absolutely love, all the time, without exception. I don't believe such a job exists. However, you are young and unencumbered, relatively speaking, so I hope you do allow yourself to consider other options before you become to committed to one direction.

    In all events, welcome to the real live grown up world. So interesting to have watched you transition from the end of high school to the world of making a living. And nice to read your words again.

  2. This is me to a T right now. I too just graduated and I'm working in consulting which consists of sitting at a cubical all day working in excel. I can't help but wonder if this was the worse decision I've ever made and if I should've just gone traveling for a year. I think I'm going to give about a year too to see how I feel but I can't see myself staying long term. If you figure any of this out, please write a post about it, I'd love to know.

    1. I definitely will. Thanks for the reply. It's nice to know other people are experiencing the same thing. It's unfortunate but I feel like it's a fact of life.

  3. Welcome to the real world kid. Not everything is lollipop and candy canes, they call it work for a reason. The problem with most higher education is they paint this idealistic picture for students. However, they do not show the reality of things, you will be bored, you will be unmotivated, you will feel like crap. It is what you do with what you have, your attitude is what counts. Any drone can crunch out a spread sheet, it is the one who not only crunch out a spread sheet but do it with energy that gets the promotion. Good luck.

  4. If someone told me my life was going to consist of doing spreadsheets for days and weeks on end, I'd have stayed in college for life...(and by some estimations, I tried to do just that).

    But strangely, things have a way of settling out. I got used to the 9-5 workday...and I look forward to my weekends more than before...I found new hobbies and new interests, and life adjusted...

    Many people jump from job to job, even career to career. The longer you're out of college, the more you'll realize, there's so much more you can do than you thought imaginable.

    Take it all in stride (you are in a far better position that countless others living in their parent's house til something drops in) and enjoy it.

  5. I guess what I should've added too is that when I left school, I thought I was going to end up in a job that fulfills me immediately out of school...but when seen in context, at your early 20s, there's still so much more to live and do and discover.

  6. (Anon from above who originally hated his first job here) Have you gotten used to working now? I found that it took me 2 months to get use to the 9-5 grind. I don't enjoy it, but it's tolerable and I've got loans to pay. I also don't plan on sticking around once I pay them back and have some money saved up. My problem now is trying to make new friends, I suck at it...

    1. Hey, yeah, it has gotten better. I'm in a similar situation as you where it took some time to really settle in a bit and become more comfortable with my job. I'll be doing another post soon I hope. I'm woefully behind but I have a solid amount of things I need to catch up on. Thanks for checking in.