Life in a cubicle (written in a cubicle)

LIFE IN A CUBICLE
(written in a cubicle by Emily Chhin) / Aug. 2015

Trapped under fluorescent lights
not a window in sight.
Some days I don’t even know
whether outside is rain or shine.

For seven months, this cubicle has occupied my life.
I kept it to myself, all my frustration and strife.
Always criticized for what I did wrong,
despite all the things that I did right.

By the time I get home, I just feel like collapsing on the floor.
My head throbbing. My tired eyes, sore.
There’s so much I want to do: exercise, take photos, learn something new,
but all my body feels like doing is watching TV, nothing more.

I hate this job, it’s made me miserable,
but it’s opened my eyes to something previously hidden, invisible:
This is my life, and I want to live it doing something I love.
Any other way would be unthinkable, unbearable, unforgivable.

And so, finally, I am leaving this place with a new goal in mind.
I am going back to school for what I really love: photography, videography, and web design.
It took me a long 20 years to realize
but now I’m finally leaving this life of false dreams and lies, behind.


I was cleaning my room and found this poem that I had written last year. It was sitting under a pile of books that I had on my desk.

Since I’ve written this in August of last year, I have gone to my new school, met new people, and finished my first year of post-secondary school in the top percentile of my program.

Grades have always been a nerve-wracking, anxious thing for me, especially after the last 2 years of failing classes and getting terrible marks at my previous universities. That’s why the past year at my new college has been an eye-opener for me.

Not only did I start getting great marks back in all of my classes, I made the Dean’s list for both semesters and my work has even been recommended by my professors. I’ve had one professor make an honourable mention of my website to my program coordinator, and I was specially asked by her to represent our program at the March open house.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more surprised and more proud of myself in my life. After 2 years of continual failure, you don’t know how much it means to me to finally have my hard work pay off and be recognized.

I’ve deduced that maybe my success was the result of going into a program that I’m actually interested in and have a passion for. That passion will shine through your work and translate into success.

Ironically though, I’m back at my old cubicle job for the summer. I can’t escape the reality of having to work in order to help pay for school and not placing the entire burden on my father. At first, the familiar anxiety and depression that I had working there last year started coming back to me, but then I realized that, unlike last year, I now had a clear path laid out for me for my future. I no longer had to worry about having to work there for the rest of my life; it was only temporary. I remind myself that everyday that I go into work. I’ve been nagged by my boss, scolded, and overheard my co-workers talking about me behind my back, but I just have to keep reminding myself not to take things so seriously and to just keep looking at the positives in my life right now and to keep looking forward.

Even if I’m working at the same old job that I tried to get away from last summer, this summer is different. I’m a lot happier and the positive vibe has given me a lot more energy to work on things that I love, like painting, photography, and getting out and enjoying nature.

Next summer, I vow to make a change. I’ll try to look for a job that will help me transition into the field that I want to work in, and take one step further towards building the life I want to live. Time doesn’t stop and I don’t want to waste anymore of it wallowing in the past.

Appreciate what other people willingly do for you

I am trying to keep this blog as light and positive as possible, but I think it’s important for me to share some realistic life experiences of mine as well. I hope that you’ll think that, even if this post isn’t as uplifting and inspirational as what I usually try to post, that you’ll be able to learn something else from it as well.

So, as you may, or may not, know, I am now moved into my new apartment shared with 4 other girls. You might think, “oh, it’s an all girls suite, it must be super clean.” Well… that’s where you’re wrong. Girls can be just as messy as boys, and I’ve learned that from the past 2 years of living with others. So let’s stop this gender discrimination and look at the truth, shall we?

I have actually been to an all boys suite before, and it was much, MUCH cleaner than ours. They cleaned up the stove after cooking, did the dishes together, cleared the table, put everything back where it belonged. To be honest, I was a little surprised, but also proud of them. And that’s when I realized that gender really has nothing to do with cleanliness.

It’s the effort that someone is willing to put in to keep their living space clean.

After 3 weeks of trying to put up with the mess and dirt in my apartment, thinking things like, “oh, I’m not living here permanently, only for a year, so I shouldn’t stress too much over these things and focus on my studies,” but for a neat-freak like me, I can’t seem to focus when the place is filthy.

So I got down one day and scrubbed down the bathroom, and kitchen. Of course, when I clean, it’s because I want to, and I actually find cleaning very satisfying after I finish, and it helps to clear my mind when I’m stressed about schoolwork, but sometimes I just feel really unappreciated and I feel like I’m the only one who ever cares about taking care of the space I’m living in.

I spent half an hour cleaning the kitchen, and it looks great now, but it saddens me that after a couple weeks, it’ll probably return to dirty state it was originally in, and no one will clean it except me… again.

No one ever thanked me for cleaning anything… it’s like they expected someone else to clean up their mess. Even when they saw me cleaning, they didn’t say a word, or offer to help. They just went back to their rooms and shut the door.

Someone even went as far as to stick a note to the fridge saying, “please take turns keeping the kitchen clean!” without even bothering to clean the kitchen. If you want someone else to help keep the place clean, at least do something yourself before you stick a note up telling others what to do! Remember that phrase, “practice what you preach?”

I don’t do things for other people because I expect a thank you, but at the same time, I am not another person’s own personal maid. If you don’t want to thank me in words, that’s completely fine with me. I just want you to show your gratitude by at least trying to put in a little effort to keep the area I just cleaned, clean.

I am cleaning this place for myself, not for others, and so that is why I will continue to clean, even if it is unfair, and even if I’m the only one who’s bothering to do it.

Sometimes it just sucks when you do something nice for others, and they don’t even notice or care…

Please everyone, take the time to appreciate the things people silently and willingly do for you, because not everyone is willing to do that, and one day, they might not be there for you anymore.

“I consider tha…

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order.”
– Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet (Ch. 2)