I fucking want to live

I don’t know about other people, but every time I come home after at least 10 hours of work every weekday, I can’t help but ask myself: “What the fuck am I doing?”

Really, what the fuck am I doing? Where did my day go? What have I truly accomplished? Meetings here and there, blasting emails one after another. A day sucked into a blackhole. Tired when all I did was sit. Exhausted when all I did was drift into currents of calls and text updates and “urgent” requests… and at the end of the day, meaningless work.

Truth is, ever since my promotion last year as Head of an engineering section, my life has been utterly miserable. True, there’s prestige that comes with being the youngest Head in the company at 27. True, there’s pride in being entrusted with such a huge responsibility. True, there’s a vestige of fulfillment in leading a team of engineers and accomplishing things of value for the company.

But at what cost? At the expense of what? A balanced life. My fucking life.

Indeed, at the end of every work day, I feel a deep sense of exhaustion and an acute pang of guilt. I feel guilty because I know I have done my best to exercise strong decision-making and apply sound strategies and deliver quality work, and yet I feel like I’m barely accomplishing something. There’s just so much work to do and no matter what I do, work just keeps on piling up. There’s always an urgent analysis to prepare, another urgent presentation to present, a more urgent meeting to attend, a super urgent issue to fix. Everything seems urgent and critical and important. And so I attend to all these things, as soon as I can, the best I can. But like gremlins, the more I wet my hands on accomplishing things, the more they keep on multiplying!

Maybe I’m not productive enough. Maybe I don’t know how to manage my time. Maybe there’s something wrong with my approach. And maybe, maybe there’s something wrong with me. Am I not good enough? Not competent enough?

And so I researched. Tried to read everything about productivity and how to hack it. Read and absorbed everything about increasing my work performance. Learned that it’s actually about managing one’s energy, not time. Learned how to delegate. Learned how to say No. Downloaded productivity apps. Applied what I learned. Aimed to get things done. Failed miserably.

What if there’s really nothing wrong about me? What if this is really about being in a work environment that doesn’t put premium on work-life sustainability? What if the system, the corporate culture, is broken and rotten that the employees are overworked and exploited to the point of anxiety and unhealthy lifestyle? What if this is a much-needed wake-up call to get out of this corporate sinkhole? What if the only way to live the life I wanted is to have the courage to leave the stability and security of my current job and muster the grit to explore the horizon? A ship in a harbor is safe, but then, that is not what ships are built for. Am I a ship in this awful harbor?

My greatest fear is to wake up one day only to realize that life has passed me by and I’m already on my deathbed. My greatest fear is simply to exist and take up space and consume oxygen and eat and shit and live such a boring life that even worms wouldn’t devour my flesh when I die. My greatest fear is not death but to have not lived.

My boss told me that with my exceptional performance and dedication, a few years from now I’ll be promoted again and rise up the corporate ladder and be successful. My future is secure and stable as long as I keep on excelling. And in my mind I was thinking, hell no. There’s no way I’ll keep being a corporate slave and there’s no way I’m gonna keep being like this: waking up at 6AM and rushing to the office and sitting in meetings and replying to emails and giving tasks to underlings and kissing asses and slaving ’til late in the evening and going home feeling like accomplishing nothing and then doing the same things over and over and over again. And to what end? What madness!

Would it be better if I’m just stupid? Would it be easier if I could just go with the flow? Would I not be miserable had I accepted this fate, this life? Would it be a comfort to think that there’s nothing more I can do because all choices have been pre-paid and pre-destined?

Is it so wrong to want to truly live? Is it wrong to want more out of this drudgery? Can’t you see? Every ticking of the clock is a tick closer to our last breath. And here we are, slaving ourselves with work, sedating ourselves with stupid TV shows and watching porn and buying useless stuff just because they’re “in” and spamming each other with ‘likes’ and faking intimacy online and infecting each other with our own insecurities and chasing after the wind. Is this what living has boiled down to?

I can’t take this shit anymore! I fucking want to live.

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7 thoughts on “I fucking want to live

  1. I walked away from corporate life at the age of 34 and never looked back. Now when I work long hours, it’s for my own business and I am doing it because I want to, not because I am forced to. However, there are good and bad things about walking away. You have to be okay with no security or safety net. It can be really scary. So maybe a way to think about it is this: if you weren’t doing what you are doing now…what would you be doing? And really, most importantly, how do you want to live your life in the years you have left? What would you do differently, if you knew you only had 5 years to live, or 10. Would you change anything?

  2. I think about this sort of thing so often. Not about myself; I’m studying at university and very much enjoying it. But the people around me seem to be in this never-ending cycle of get up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat. When I visit my dad I see he’s exhausted and falling asleep on the sofa at 6pm after a day of work. He works to provide a better life for his family but in doing so isn’t really part of it anymore. I hope more than anything that I don’t get in to this pattern after graduating. If I could study forever, I would! Thanks for posting, really interesting read and hopefully a wake-up call for a lot of people out there. Life is for living, not existing!

  3. You can ‘demote’ yourself and have a personal life. Or keep climbing the ladder and have your career over personal life. Personally, I think putting career over relationships is weird as hell. It’s just making someone else richer, and you lose out on having a fulfilling personal life because you’re too busy working 12+ hours per day, every day, and ‘on call’ during weekends.

    27 is too young to be so stressed. Take a vacation and have some fun

  4. FEELS… Haaayyy Sir Gary, you’re still an amazing writer. Just keeping writing what’s on your mind and I’ll always find time to read and appreciate it all… I beg to differ with the feeling that you haven’t accomplished anything, you’re pretty amazing in your field (firsthand observation). More power, Sir! 😉

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