Office Cube Survival

 

By: Nikki Savage

It is an all too common story.  You are a spiritual warrior.  You strive to be a source of clarity and peace to all around you.  You work on your spiritual game like an athlete in training.  You feed yourself with the right foods, feed your mind with the right thoughts, mediate with the right intentions, and constantly look for ways to enlighten yourself and become a better human being.

 

And then it’s time to go to work out in corporate America.  And let’s just say it ain’t no dream job.  In fact it is a nightmare.  Maybe you push meaningless paperwork across your desk in your windowless cubicle and feel undervalued, unmotivated, and have a restlessness about wasting all this precious time doing something that makes you feel like less.  Or you feel an unhealthy amount of stress over some quota that means nothing at all in the grand scheme of your life whether it is hit or missed.  And you suffer through endless meetings that go nowhere while sitting across from that guy whose incompetence is visible to all but management and  you ignore the bickering between two department heads as you wonder if that guy’s incompetence is strategic or true stupidity.  And either way, you find yourself imagining shaking the cuss out of him.  And you do this day in and day out all for the mighty dollar dollar bill y’all.

 

Before Daffy Ducking out of my cubicle to pursue my own gig, I felt this pain.  For more years than I care to admit, I undersold my life energy to get really good at something that, as far as I can tell, meant absolutely nothing to anyone in the end.  It was one of those “if we want to know your opinion, we will tell you it” kind of evironments poorly hidden behind posted mission statements and motivational posters that gave an appearance of giving a shit about morale.  It seems to be the way at too many offices these days.

 

So how do spiritual warriors cope when they find themselves stuck in the rat race, even if only temporarily?  Well here are a few strategies that I found to be effective in keeping my sanity.

 

Imagine you are on a sit com. Yep.  Pretend you are on The Office.  This is great in the situations where the people you have to interact with just ain’t your kind of people.  If you have security cameras, look at them as if they are your audience.   If not, just imagine the camera.  When said people come to your desk, give your camera a look after they leave.  You know the look.  The one that says, “Really?”  Hell, talk to it if you want.  If they catch you, they will probably think you are bat-shit crazy and avoid you in the future.  Win-win.

 

Play music. This may not be possible in every office setting but if you can, play it!  If you have to keep it quiet for those around you and don’t have to work the phones, use earbuds.  Pick something that makes you happy, something positive.  Or if your work doesn’t require a high level of attention, play a podcast or a comedy routine.  Learn something new, expand your mind, or make yourself laugh.

 

Take your breaks. I remember working through breaks in the hopes of catching up or getting done earlier.  But there really was no catching up or being done.  So I started utilizing my breaks to do mini yoga sessions.  I spent most lunch breaks doing headstands on a grassy patch between the shipping lane and the parking lot.  But if yoga ain’t your thing, go for a walk, go outside and breathe, or if it gets really bad one day, go scream in your car until the frustration passes.  Just go do something that gives you a mini reboot to help get you through the day.

 

Find your tribe. Find the people that get it the way you do.  The ones that build you up or crack you up.  There is a lot of grace to be found in humor.  Maybe have a motto.  (Example: I had “Illegitimi non carborundum” on my computer screen – it means “don’t let the bastards grind you down”.)  Or maybe whistle the mockingjay call from Hunger Games when you see each other just to say you are together in this.  Whatever.  Find people that help you stay strong.  If you have tribe in HR, email them when you are feeling especially feisty to find out the company policy on b*tch slapping a co-worker.  Obviously you aren’t going to actually slap anyone but asking if your can sure does take the edge off.

 

I’m sure there are other ways to keep yourself sane when you are in a less than ideal job situation.  These are just a few tried and true methods I used that worked for me.  In the end, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t right for that place.  I’m motivated by growth and my place had no room for me.   And that is okay.  And maybe that is where you are at too.  Or maybe you just need to find a way to make it more pleasant knowing you make your real living outside of work.   Whatever keeps you from losing all that glung glung zen you work so hard to maintain, do it.  Remember that no job is more valuable than your health.  When work has you stressing, reframe the situation with that perspective.  Illegitimi non carborundum!
 
 
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