IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Posted by IT Pilgrim on July 22, 2008

Square Petg Round Hole

Do you ever wake up in the morning, think about getting up, and say to yourself, what’s the point? I do, every Sunday through Thursday. Perhaps books like the 4-Hour Work Week, Escape 101, and others like it have given us to much of a glimpse of the freedom that could be ours. I am told by my parents, and by older co-workers that we will all grow out of it. But grow into what? Mindless automatons? What if we don’t all want to just blindly show up at the same boring place at the same time, every day for the next 40 years? What are the alternatives? Hit the road and try the bohemian lifestyle for a few years? OK, so that’s one, but what if you have trapped yourself with all the trappings of normal society such as the house the dog, the cars, etc. Some people have managed to break free from that mold, and there seems to be a growing community of them who have. I truly admire them and hope to do the same someday.

Are we all now becoming square pegs in a round hole? In speaking with some other people my age, I recognize that I am far from the only one who feels trapped in a cubicle that’s too small and too dreadfully confining. I think what I am most missing, is how have people lived like this for so long? I think the answer is that they didn’t. while the cubicle farm has existed for quite some time, we are the most overworked, overscheduled, overstressed set of workers in quite some time. I have seen it said that American workers have less time off than medieval peasants did.

Many people say that we have all brought this on ourselves, that this is the natural result of our own “self-centered universe,” but somehow that just doesn’t make it any better. Some people have broken free, and made the jump to just go somewhere else, but I have to wonder, why is it we seem to need to feel the need to leave the country to feel free again. What is it that has us feeling so trapped and stifled? I have to wonder how the motion towards us all being information workers has to do with it.

I don’t think anyone can dispute that humans evolved into our current state to become lumps on an office chair who don’t even see the light of day for hours or days. I am not sure about most people, but it seems a lot of us don’t even take vacations anymore, some of us feeling that there’s not much point when we will only have to come back to three times as much work, or in some cases, we’re just not given permission from the ‘ole boss to go. Frequently we don’t even leave our desks all day at work. Something like 60% or more of us eat lunch at our desks, or have a lunch time shorter that 30 minutes.

I don’t have a magic answer to it all. I wish I did. I have found a few articles such as this one at Wisebread, one at ezinearticles, one at Escape from Cubicle Nation, and another here. So there’s lots of stuff out there, and it seems, lots of people feel this way at one time or another. I think in the end, there’s not a good one size fits all solution for everyone. Maybe we do all need to get out and see the world to appreciate what we have here at home.

I have learned, above all else, that money is not everything. Once you have enough to eat and have some sort of shelter, the other things don’t really matter that much, they just weigh you down. There’s no reason to try to keep of with the Joneses anymore, plenty of them are losing their houses and going bankrupt anyway. For now, I’m just going to take a day and do nothing, not require anything of myself and turn of all the electronics and I suggest you do the same.

Photo by by anneslice via Flickr

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4 Responses to “Square Peg in a Round Hole”

  1. Francois said

    You’ve got that feeling right.

    I can’t believe for one minute that humans were made to spend 8 to 12 hours a day in a cubicle, any more than I believe lion was made to live in a zoo, or a bird was made to live in a cage.

  2. Good for you for taking a day, Pilgrim. If you can do a day, you can do a week. And so on… 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning Escape 101. Good luck with your journey!

  3. Kirsty said

    Nice post! I obviously agree with you, having already made the leap myself. I think people tend to head overseas because the cost of living can be much cheaper than in North America so the jump can be made a lot sooner and the details can be worked out later.

    It never ceases to amaze me that so many Americans dont even take their holidays. I moved to the UK to get away from the two weeks a year syndrome in favour of a much more humane five weeks and you can bet that I took every one of those days!

  4. IT Pilgrim said

    @Kirsty,
    Thanks. I follow your story and admire what you have done. I haven’t taken more than 3 days off in over 6 years, so that two weeks thing is an urban legend around here. I am working on it, just still need to figure out what I’m gonna do for money once I leave.

    Thanks again
    Pilgrim

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