Shuttle bus and staff canteen musings 

I wanted to read on the private shuttle bus but I chose ‘tender is the night’ by f scott fitzgerald and it’s such a sleepy book. Anyway, I am writing this under the influence of hot coffee and flu medicine, so I am not too sure what the combined effects will be like. Kind of like a stasis mood. The staff canteen is a rather calming area though, the seats are wide and there are many tables meant for group discussion. But the food stalls- I can only see five, out of which one is a fruits stall and the other is a drinks stall. Not too sure what my diet will look like for the next month if I’m still here. Probably a mix of duck noodles and burrito-sandwiches. 

I asked my colleague yesterday about a boss. It is a really political situation because that boss used to be from my team, but now she is a subject matter expert for the government sector in the company. I really want to do work for clients that will make an impact on the environment around me, and I’ve come to realise that it is not global FMCG companies, but VWOs and the public service/civil service. It is easily said but not easily done, because the pipeline for work isn’t controlled by me or my colleagues, it depends on which networking events the bigger bosses go to. And over the last year apparently the project mix that the team works on has changed. The skills sets are also different, because the only resource that we have is human beings, which means that when people leave the company, they bring their skill sets along with them and we can no longer pitch for certain projects. So anyway, after speaking to my colleague who have worked for that boss before, I decided to send that SME an email, asking if I could help out for the next VWO proposal. She hasn’t replied and I am not sure if she will ever reply, but I hope that the politics won’t get in the way of my work. Especially when the tone of voice used by the bigger bosses is like “we must never mention that person’s name”. 

Work aside, I went back for TCM yesterday morning. I have the thyroid checkup on Thursday morning, and I leave for Indonesia on Friday morning. It is at 8am which- frankly, I am really tired out by all the travelling to and fro Changi. Exhausting. But it is a much more calming environment than the CBD area where you have this massive wave of corporate drones who are stressed out about their work and their lives. 

Speaking of work and life, I was talking to the same colleague yesterday if he felt any existential anxiety about being 27 years old and only have 1.5 years of work experience- he did four years of diploma, and adding on compulsory national service, and also a university degree. He said he felt that life got more stable and quieter as he got older. To which I replied, “I am having this existential mood right now, because I am 23 and I feel like I am getting somewhere, but I don’t know where yet.” Maybe the ‘where’ is just the staff canteen of Changi biz park. 

I was trying to comfort myself over the weekend when I was sitting at my desk with coffee and a pile of banking related information to read. It is not that I mind reading them, I don’t. It is more of wondering if this is how I am going to be spending my Sundays from now on- seven hours in church doing classes and sermons, and then rushing back home to get work done. And my Saturdays are often no better- trying to get articles out for comms work, or rushing proposals, and thinking at the back of my head I really want to just sit at the beach with my notebook and watch the sun set, and watch the birds peck at dead turtles. So picturesque.  

Trying to balance work, both chargeable and non-chargeable. Trying to balance my ‘ECA’s- you know what’s one phrase that I really hate? “Impression management.” I have had three different people tell me about that this week. And I hate it because it makes me think of scared rats tip toeing around hoping that people will think well of them and their work, and then they will get promoted to sit on the throne of rats someday. Guys we are still going to be rats. It doesn’t matter how ‘busy’ I look as long as I get my work done on my own time. It doesn’t matter if my utilization rate is only 40%, as long as I do good work and I am helping out on other projects for the other 60% of the time. It doesn’t matter that my boss thinks I should focus only on work (and ignore the people aspect)- I focus on what I want to focus on, it is my life. And the same boss quit the company a week after he said that, that isn’t a very good example of a role model employee. 

But in line with maintaining a good impression, when my boss said “sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier” I just said, “it’s okay, remember I said that I adapt well. Will just take things as they come.” Which is true, I don’t panic (until the last minute then my brain fizzes out) and I just accept things as they are. But I don’t appreciate people (in general) telling me about impression management when other colleagues are telling me not-so-good things about them, and the impression that I have of them isn’t great either. Like when A told the whole team about how B did really well in the company and then B told us that she felt burned out and she regretted not fighting for her boundaries earlier on. B is leaving after two years in the company, and it is her first job. Isn’t it ironic- how everyone wants to make a good impression, but so far no one seems to be managing their own lives well? 

I don’t mind hard work, but I also know that work will not be my whole life, and I have to consciously shut off on the weekends and I have to remind myself that no one will remember this four years from now. But I know that four years from now I don’t want work to be my only identity. It is not what ‘what people think of when they see me’, but rather, have I lived well, and can I look at what I have done without feeling ashamed of how easily I caved in to other people’s requests. 

TL;DR: Will not volunteer for things which are urgent but not in my areas of interest, will not be obsessed with what other people think of me as long as I am doing work that I can be proud of, and I have the right attitude (receptive to feedback). And I will be proactive (even if it means going into certain political situations) about the projects which I want to do. This is adulthood, and adulthood means drawing boundaries and not worrying about how my actions will cause others to have more work to deal with. They are paid 10x my salary just to deal with political situations.