When my batchmates and I were on our way to graduating with degrees in Communication Arts, we were all down with an allergy to the image of the “corporate slave”: that 8-to-5 daily grinder, sitting in an office cubicle all day, freezing his ass off in front of a near-obsolete office computer, wasting his talent on material strictly for the consumption of some philistine with a big wad of cash. And why wouldn’t we? We were told not to shoot for anything less than art, that the world would try to strip art off us, using what methods it could to turn us into money-generating zombies. That anything less than art was sacrilegious to our craft, whether it was writing, spoken performance, or acting. This, we were told by all variety of teachers, panelists, critics, directors, and seminar guests, so why would we not believe them?
Four years after those words, I find myself in the exact situation I was told would be the doom of whatever creative spirit I had left in me, the situation I was advised to struggle out of, the way an angsty teenager struggles against his parents, the way a fish struggles under the hands of the chef who beheads him and turns him into sashimi.
And you know what? It’s not half bad.
Sure, I’m only just short of a year into the job, but I think it’s something a person can grow into. Given the number of dead-end jobs out there today, those feelings of security and potential growth might just be saying something (*cue “Communication Arts graduates are just glorified future call-center agents” joke, no matter how unfunny*). Besides, a little employment-related optimism never hurt anyone.
True, corporate employment isn’t the my-passion-makes-my-work-not-feel-like-work scenario that people always dream of. Then again, life doesn’t always work that way anyway, and feeling entitled to your dream job seems to be a trademark bad habit of recent generations, including mine.
Not that you shouldn’t follow your art/s, your passion/s. It’s all just about giving yourself a leg-up, so to speak. Heck, aren’t we humans known for teaching ourselves things? Who’s to say that we can’t teach ourselves to like new things? Who’s to say that we can’t make art out of what we have to do?
So walk the talk. Invest in a decent set of business threads: Tees won’t cut it anymore, and you’ll find your small collection of “formal” wear (at least, as “formal” as you needed to be back in college) severely lacking after around two weeks of work. Start sitting at the big lunch table and talk to people, instead of keeping your plate at your cubicle. And don’t read aloud to yourself: It irritates people, most especially when they’re reading something else to themselves.
(By the way, if you got the title’s semi-obscure music reference, then congratulations, you were probably emo right before it became the genre became mainstream.)