Monday, August 24, 2015

Exile from CorpWorld

I'm really gratified by the response to yesterday's post. A bunch of people have reached out to me already, which I greatly appreciate. I figured I'd might as well strike while the iron is hot and keep the blog momentum going.

Hopefully, I won't need to keep posting cries for help to maintain this level of interest. (I've gotten about 80 unique pageviews the last 2 days, which is nearly unprecedented for this blog.) I've had many bouts of depression and anxiety in my life, but I've never been suicidal, so I don't think y'all need to worry about that.

A big factor in my emotional trainwreck is my inability to find a meaningful, rewarding job. Since I left the corporate world over a year ago, I've only had 1 interview with a non-profit, and that was for a temp job. In the months before my departure, I had 1 phone interview with another non-profit.

I've come to the conclusion that I have no idea how to negotiate the job market. It's like I have no shot at any job that would meet my standards for providing tangible benefits to humanity without driving me crazy with stress. Maybe I'm being too picky, although I've certainly lowered my standards on the second point, and I'm becoming more flexible on the first. (I recently signed up with one of my old temp agencies.)

I'd really like to suspend my moral standards for a while, frankly. I'm beginning to think my conscience is way too sensitive to the corruption in CorpWorld. When I worked in health insurance, I beat myself up for being part of a system that profits from pain and suffering. When I worked in finance, I beat myself up for being a cog in the machine that's sucking the life out of the global economy.

But is all that guilt justified? I may not like everything those companies do, but it's not like the insurance company and the financial company never paid out for their customers. They helped a lot of people. Maybe they could've helped more people, but...

This is the wrong line of reasoning. It just feels like rationalization. Maybe if I were more practiced at making the pro-corporate argument I could ease my conscience back into the cubicle. As things stand, though, I'll have to find other grounds for selling out.

Through this principled rejection of corporate jobs, I feel like I'm emotionally martyring myself for nothing. Who exactly am I helping with this one-man strike? The worst part is I have no community of like-minded people to support me. That's what makes it hard, because I feel so alone in this moral stand, left to weather the headwinds of society on my own.

At this point in the essay, I need to temper my self-righteousness with a reality check. I don't really know if it was the guilt or the stress that drove me to quit those jobs. My position with the insurance company was cushy. I was there for 5 years and only left because of my own emotional issues. The other jobs I've had have been stressful.

If I'd found another job as easy as the one with the insurance company, I might've stuck with it. But my conscience probably would've eventually forced me to quit. Considering the misery I've experienced in the year-and-a-half since I quit my last corporate gig, I wonder if leaving CorpWorld was the right thing to do.

I think the real problem is I haven't had the guts to take the necessary steps to escape CorpWorld. All those paths seem to require leaving my comfort zone, either the physical comfort zone of the Twin Cities or a more nebulous mental comfort zone that prefers safety to confrontation.

When I was mowing lawns for seniors this summer, I thought I'd found an escape route. Unfortunately, my back couldn't sustain the workload of lifting the mower in and out of the car trunk. (I also wonder whether I could've stuck with it if I believed in lawns.) But it was an interesting, edifying experience that I should cover in the next blog post to lighten the mood.

On a brighter note, the global stock market (mini-)crash. Some might call it schadenfreude, but I think the rich have it coming, and we could all use a wake-up call when it comes to the vicissitudes of finance and the economy.

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