Life in a cubicle (written 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.

It’s selfish to be lonely alone.

emilychhinphotography_lonelyaloneLoneliness is a strange thing that comes and goes in my life, in which I have absolutely no control over, no matter how hard I try to subdue it. It hits me at the most unexpected times, which is why I created this typography poster: to remind me that one day, I will eventually find that other lonely person out there and we will be able to fill that empty void with each other’s company.

Even if I’m in a crowd of people, or with my own family, sometimes I can’t help but feel a little lonely — like I still don’t fit in. There are so many expectations of me that I’m afraid I won’t meet, and I constantly feel like I’m a dead weight, or a failure. I sometimes feel like my place in other people’s lives is slowly starting to fade away and I’ll eventually be forgotten.

How can I make an impact in the lives of others, for the better?

I’m trying to figure out the answer to that question, but keep coming up short.

I hope to share the beauty of the world through my photography and words, but it’s hard to get the audience that I’m trying to reach out towards. I feel like time is inevitably passing each and every day, and yet my words and art are still left unnoticed. If only I could stop time and figure things out before letting it run again.

I want to do something in this life that can help other people and touch their hearts, but I still don’t know what that thing is. I try to brighten the days of others with my kindness, but sometimes I’m very bad at expressing my feelings and end up being misunderstood.

I want to help others, but sometimes my fear of getting hurt holds me back. In this world, I’ve learned that being too nice and trustworthy means that people will take advantage of me and exploit that trust. I didn’t use to view my naivety and innocence as a negative thing; I used to think it allowed me to view the world differently — in a more positive light — and see the good in people that others may not see at first.


“When so many people are lonely, it’s selfish to be lonely alone.”

No matter how lonely I am, this quote reminds me that I am not alone. There are other people out there going through the same thing as me. There is nothing more therapeutic than knowing you’re not alone and being able to share the burden instead of carrying it all on your own shoulders.

Sometimes we just need someone there to listen.