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.

My first nomination: Liebster Award


Thank you for visiting my blog, vennixie, and thank you for the nomination! I hope you don’t mind that I took some of your questions as well, because I thought they were just such great questions!

This is my first nomination and it’s pretty exciting. I think it’s exactly the kind of push I need to really explore the rest of WordPress, being a fairly new member and all.

“The Liebster award is awarded to bloggers with under 200 followers to try to promote their blog a little and also bring together a community of bloggers. The rules of the competition are as follows:

1. The nominated user must provide a link back to the person who nominated them.
2. Provide 11 facts about yourself
3. Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
4. Choose 11 more people and ask them 11 questions!”

So without further ado, let’s begin!

11 things about me:

1. I have an unusual fascination with big windows, nature, and large cities.
2. My favourite time of day is when the sun sets.
3. I am obsessed with taking photos because I’m afraid of forgetting about the moment.
4. I play guitar and piano, but I would love to learn the viola.
5. I love exploring new places.
6. I have to eat a little bit of something sweet in the morning before craving salty foods.
7. I’ve recently gotten back into Anime. My list can be found here.
8. I love roleplaying video games and MMORPGs, and I used to play League.
9. I often daydream about relaxing on the beach.
10. I get excited about food, especially going out to eat.
11. My sister is my best friend.

vennixie asked me these 11 questions:

1. What is your favorite class in High School?
Back in High School, I would have to say that my favourite class was actually computer programming, as surprising as that may seem.

2. What / who inspires you?
Basically anyone out there who is currently chasing their dreams and doing what they want. They push me to pursue my own dreams.

3. What is your ideal day off?
Relaxing anywhere near a big body of water, away from the noise pollution of the city, either playing guitar, reading, watching tv on my laptop, or just sitting there, enjoying the view. I also like taking long walks and exploring nature.

4. What is your favorite quote?
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” -Confucius

5. What is your makeup product that you can’t live without?
I wear make-up a lot, but to be completely honest, I could live without it, so I don’t really have one! But sheet masks from the Face Shop come really close, if those are considered make-up products? Haha!

6. Why did you start blogging?
I made a really big mistake and I hoped that I’d be able to share that experience with others in hopes of possibly helping them to avoid this same mistake. Then I got to thinking that I wanted to start a blog that could show other people another look at life that they might not see at first. I want to be able to open the eyes of others and show them another side to life through my eyes.

7. What makes you laugh the most?
My friends when they act goofy with me in public. Or basically just anyone who isn’t afraid to make weird faces or look stupid in front of other people.

8. What is your favorite drink?
Hong Kong milk tea bubble tea. I think I actually may have a legitimate addiction…

9. What is your favorite song now?
“All I Want” by Kodaline. I actually covered this song on my YouTube.

10. What is the hardest thing you have ever done, or the biggest obstacle you have faced in your life?
Failing out of my program at university, but even worse than that, applying to that program in the first place. It was Accounting and Financial Management if you’re curious.

11. What are 3 of your future goals?
They might seem a little generic, but these are the 3 things that I, myself, would really really like to achieve…

  1. Graduate from university
  2. Learn Chinese and finally be able to visit the other half of my family in China
  3. Become a software developer or web developer


And now, Jess, maximillian, fjo, indah vey, dorothy, Iuliana, lixxy, Sarah, Cassandra, Charlotte, Zoey,
I ask

1. How are you doing today? Do anything interesting? 🙂
2. What was the inspiration behind the start of your blog?
3. What is your favourite thing to do on your spare time?
4. If there was nothing stopping you, what would your dream job be?
5. What is one object that you couldn’t live without?
6. What trait do you value most in a best friend?
7. What/who inspires you?
8. What song(s) do you like to listen to when you study/work?
9. What is one experience that especially changed you as a person?
10. What is 1 thing from your childhood that you would like to re-live?
11. What are 3 of your future goals?

Don’t forget to link me back as I would love to read your responses!

Study what you love

This particular experience that I’m posting to my blog is the one that inspired the creation of this blog in the first place. It’s what changed me as a person and opened my eyes to the real world; I’d say that it was my first, real big mistake in life, with seriously big consequences… It’s a little long, so please bear with me. Here goes.

As a first-year university student almost done her first year, I’ve been through so many ups and downs and new experiences that came with university. After moving away from a sheltered home to a whole new environment with unlimited freedom, I unfortunately made the wrong choices.

It all started before university, actually, with my university application. When trying to choose my future career, the only thing I had in mind was a path that would be the quickest way to graduating and earning lots of money. The only jobs I even considered were ones that earned at least 100k or more, and had less than 5 years of post-secondary education. That’s how I ended up applying to Accounting.

I know this sounds really shallow and despicable, and I agree, but I was naive at the time and thought that I could do anything. Growing up, I always had high marks, without putting in 100%  of the effort, and so I somehow got the idea in my head that life would be just as easy. I figured that I would study those 5 years, get good grades, get an awesome co-op job, and graduate to become a Chartered Accountant at one of the Big Four. I would make lots of money, pay off my university debt, and be able to do all the things I wanted to do in life, like travel the world, buy luxurious items, and live in a beautiful house in the city. Money would never be an obstacle to being able to pursue my dreams and do the things I wanted.

Boy, was I wrong.

I got accepted to all 5 universities that I applied to, all of them quite prestigious and well known programs for accounting, and accepted my offer to the most competitive and prestigious one of them all. Thus begins the experience that changed my outlook on life.

All throughout first-year, I noticed that I no longer stood out. There were others as smart as me, and many others even smarter. As a student who was always substantially above the class average in high school, I found myself substantially below the program average in university. I was doing terrible and actually failed some midterms–and by fail, I don’t mean 60%–I mean below 50%. I became depressed about school and was beginning to think that I was actually dumb and that I didn’t belong here in university, but the truth of the matter was: I didn’t put in enough effort.

It wasn’t just one thing that caused this. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this actually.

First, during the first term of university, I met A LOT of new people; one boy in particular, who I started to kind of like. I thought he was different: smart, helpful, funny. Sometimes when we talked about things that he liked, I could see the passion in his eyes and excitement in his voice. I saw a different side of him that he had when he wasn’t with his bros. I spent a lot of time with him and his friends, and put my schoolwork second. Being able to spend time with him was my first priority. I stayed up hours past my bedtime (let’s just say 4am was considered early) just to be with him, but eventually we started to drift apart. I don’t want to get too into detail since that’s not the point of this post, but when 2nd term came, he was no longer a big part of my life. I’d wasted all that time that I could have used to study, but in a way, it was a good experience and life lesson learned. I don’t regret the time spent with him, as it made me really happy, but at the same time, I know now not to devote your life to someone else, especially if it’s going to harm your education. I learned to be less dependent.

Second, and most importantly, by 2nd term, I’d finally realized that I’d chosen the wrong program. After receiving my marks from first term, my heart sank. I’d gotten two marks above 70%, but everything else was mid-60s or lower; I’d even gotten a 58%. I figured it was because I didn’t spend enough time studying, and was being too social, so I promised to fix it for 2nd term. Unfortunately, I did work harder at the beginning, but as the term went on, I put things off again and fell behind. I procrastinated because I didn’t want to do the work. I found it boring, uninteresting, and hard. Everyone around me was so ambitious and really passionate about the program, and I felt like I didn’t fit in at all. My marks weren’t as high as them, I never wanted to go to any of the networking sessions that the program held, and I generally just viewed myself as a failure. I failed 2 midterms, passed one by 2%, and didn’t know what I was doing when it came to the assignments because I hadn’t kept up with the classes.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my average up to stay in the program, but I know now that I no longer want to. I’m not blaming my first-year failure on solely the fact that I wasn’t interested in what I was studying, but also because of my mistake regarding time management and lack of effort spent on schoolwork. Coming to university was a BIG change, and unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to adjust to that change quick enough. But I tend to look at this grave mistake as a very important life lesson. It was just what I needed to wake me up to the real world and discover who I was as a person. All of this contributed to my final realization that I had made a HUGE, irreversible mistake… and I wanted to fix it.

I started looking into programs at other universities in a field that I was actually passionate about: graphic design. My whole life, I’d loved the arts; especially digital arts. I’d first gotten exposed to digital media in grade 6 and made pixels using Microsoft Paint. In grade 7 I was introduced to Photoshop, and that’s what I still use to this day to edit my photography and create graphics.

As I grew up, I remember constantly getting compliments on my creations, from family, friends, teachers, and even strangers online. I should have paid attention to these comments as they showed what I was actually good at in life, and my real, true talent, but I was too worried about money and being successful.

But I know that now, after re-evaluating myself a person, and I want to do something I love. I want to be able to love what I study, because then I truly will be happy in life. I want to be able to be proud to tell people what my job is, and actually be able to tell them why I’d chosen the program I’m studying. I’d heard it a million times: “Do what you love,” but I’d never really fully understood it until now. Study what you love, and hard work will naturally follow. If you love what you’re studying, you’ll be more interested in it and find it easier to study for. You’ll learn what it is that you actually want to learn, and be able to apply that to what you love later.

Ask yourself, “why did I choose this program?” If you can answer that true-heartedly, you’re already on the right path. I remember when people asked me why I chose accounting, I could never give them a full answer. I always gave them a half-hearted lie: “Oh… I really like math” was all I could muster. I was always complaining about accounting, and people would always ask me why I was even in accounting then, and that’s when I realized… Why was I in accounting? It was for the money, but it definitely wasn’t something I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I’m really glad that I realized this before putting myself through another 4 years learning solely about accounting, and devoting my life to long hours in the office doing auditing.

If you’re still with me at this point, I just want to thank you for taking the time to listen to the words of a regretful student. If there’s one thing I really want you to take away from this post, it’s to first, choose to study something that you love, not for the money. If you’re really passionate about what you’re studying, you’ll want to work extra hard at it, and money will naturally follow. And second, set your priorities straight. School is more important, as it’s the key to your future. Don’t make my mistake and slack off and fall behind. The consequences are extremely tough, tougher than you could ever think, and it will be the biggest regret of your life. I’m still here hoping that I haven’t messed up my life and praying that someone will give me second chance to prove myself.

Just remember that this is your life. Do what makes you happy. As cliche as it sounds, you will be a lot more satisfied with your life if you do what you want. If accounting is what makes you happy, DO IT. But it just wasn’t the right path for me. Don’t make the same mistake as me and choose something just for the money, because it will most likely be the most brutal year of your life.

So thank you so much for listening, and I wish you all the best of luck.

Stay true to yourself,