Insta-famous (illustration)

Octopus: ooooo, look at my new rabbit hat. Quick, take my picture and post it on instagram. I’ll be famous!!!
Rabbit: I feel the earth move under my feet!?!

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Checkmate (doodle)

Summer is Here

Summer is here. Where’s my acorn?

Fire Dragon (doodle)

It’s been some time since I drew a dragon

The Work You Do And The Person You Are

At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned to you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

A few weeks ago, I was lending a sympathetic ear (or rather a sympathetic eye, since our communications are mainly via messaging) to my friend, who used to be my client, rambling about the problems she faced at work. At some point, I typed, “I am glad I left the industry. I no longer have to deal with the pain and stress of searching for available hotels or tour guides.” She was momentarily stunned at my bluntness but she agreed with a tinge of envy.

In my first job, I worked as a Psychologist in the neurology department at a Singapore hospital. It’s that kind of job title that invites awes and wide-eyed fish-like stares of disbelief from whoever I mentioned this to. It was indeed a nice sounding job title, but I was at the beck and call of my two neurologist bosses because I didn’t have the necessary PhD qualification to be an independent doctor. And one of my bosses was well-known in our department as the boss from hell. At every weekly meetings he called “patients’ diagnosis consultancy”, he would pick one of us psychologists to either grill or insult that poor soul so bad, it was guaranteed that condemned soul of the week would leave the meeting in tears. He had once caught sight of one of my sobbing colleagues who had been burnt by his scathing criticism, he assured us his criticism was “for our own good” because the world out there is more cut-throat and vicious than he is (I think it’s more to sooth his own conscience for treating us terribly). In addition to this stress, I was ostracized and snubbed, based on my graduating school (all my colleagues graduated from an Australian university while I graduated locally from NUS). It wasn’t rocket science that I spent my first month locking myself in the toilet and cried.

I suffered in silence as I was too timid to stand up to the bullying at work. So at a family dinner, I let drop a few whines about my job. I told my father the details of my job, examples of what troubled me, hoping to get a “you poor thing” validation for all I had suffered. Instead, my father put down his bowl of rice and replied causally, “Just quit. Why put up with the bullying and so much unhappiness at work?”

However, I soldiered on till the end of my year-long contract. Because I do not want to be seen as a quitter. Therefore, I was the only one in the department then to finish till the end of my contract. All my colleagues left before their contracts ended. I was hailed as the brave commander by the other doctors in the department as I was the only sole Psychologist left running the department. I left after I ended the contract. That was my end point. I had enough.

I have had many kind of jobs and have worked for and with all sorts of people since then, mostly egotistic morons, quick-witted and dull, the clueless and the cunning, the backstabbers and the liars, the bighearted and the cheaters. After all these years, I’ve come to realize this:

  1. Whatever the work is, do it well – not for the boss but for yourself.
  2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
  3. Your real life is with your family, not with your workplace.
  4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.
  5. Never place the security of a job above the value of home.

With that insight, I finally mustered the courage to walk out of one particular company a few years ago when I recognized the same arm-twisting, bullying tactics encouraged by one general manager who influenced the small company to go all out on a reputation-smearing campaign against me. After a particularly nasty name calling screaming fit at me in front of the boss, I just packed up and left without tendering my resignation. Even with an all out smear campaign against me within the industry, I still get job offers from agents and clients even today. As one client put it simply, she likes working with me because of who I am (honest). But after working more than 8 years in the tourism industry and going nowhere in my life, I called it quits more than a year ago and took some time off to learn digital illustration and start doing crochet work. At least, I am now doing what resonates with me most and becoming who I want to be, instead of letting work define who I am.

Hello friend (doodle of the day)

Clear Sky, 15°C

Hello friend, long time no see!

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Apocalypse (illustration)

Clear Sky, 18°C

Apocalypse – when the giraffe is too hungry to care

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