“Know what? I’m already thinking of hunting for a new job. The space there is all cramped up. You still have to go and swipe your ID twice to go to the pantry outside and just one comfort room to share with almost a hundred people. Tell you what, the first thing I would look into a company before accepting any job is a clean and spacious comfort room. And I’m not at all pleased with our new office.”
And so there goes the ranting of an old-timer in the company where I work. I don’t mean to be rude but I just can’t help but to suppress my laughs while he seethed and complained on how miserable a lot we had been. His focal points:
1. Engineers like us in the company need a good space and a workable environment. These conditions are important in order to bring out the best in us.
2. It’s not supposed to be “us” transferring to the new office building. It’s supposed to be the Aussie team since they are the ones (both structures and transportation and highways) expanding. Not us!
3. All these moving and adjusting are really nerve jarring!
He has his points. I wish I had the guts to refute some of his opinions but I tried to let it go. I will not try to rob him of his right to allow himself to undergo the “perceived” painful process of adjustment. Compared to his emotions already categorized as a hurricane, mine was a perfect calm!
It’s never easy like 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C trying to let it all sink into the mind much more accept it. It’s a nerve-racking phenomenon when all of a sudden you’re required to shift your balance after being so used to your environment.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had my officemate’s anxiety engulfing me. I used to be in his place. We were leaving our apartment of less than 2 years for a new one. We are leaving the familiar and the known, to move to the unknown, unfamiliar, and that we only hope as “something better” than what we have now. I took time to ponder on the pros, and I found out that our move is not that bad after all:
1. Minimal to zero chances of flooding (we are at the 2nd floor now),
2. Proximity to the new school where my wife will be teaching, and
3. My wife can check my son at home in just a few steps.
I know it’s definitely the better if not the best choice at that time. I know that eventually the move will take its place, and that this is the time for it.
But not without an internal Armageddon!
I know that a little change is good, but why do we always struggle with the thought of it? Why do we always prefer the status quo? I know that it’s inevitable and yet I pretend that it doesn’t have to be so. And I continued to wrestle with the thought, like wrestling air, pointless and dumb.
“If you fight all of those changes, you will die.” And that’s to quote my wife. I don’t want to die yet, but it kills me just as much thinking that all the comforts that the house offered us for one and a half years, and things that I’ve grown so fond of (including‘roaches) will finally disappear.
I was literally dragging myself along with my wife on our way to pay the 1 month advance and 2 months deposit for the house. In my mind, I still don’t want to part ways with what had been a good part in my life.
And then, as if some kind of a magic spell, I felt relieved when my wife and I finally closed the deal to our new apartment. It marked the end of a struggle and the beginning of a new adventure as we inch closer and closer to our dreamed future.
And after the hustle and bustle of moving every crap we can take to our new home, I realized I was happy and contented, and the previous fear had been replaced with excitement.
So why the heck did I fuss after all?!
I think, once again it’s the fear of the unknown.
We’ve been very good at predicting what happens next because of familiarity. At least we “know” alternate routes if the main one doesn’t work the way it used to. At least we have a fall back plan.
Who doesn’t want familiarity anyway? Since childhood, we’re wired to be predictable. Children and most adults learn through repetition. In engineering design and construction, we as design and construction professionals are able to obtain a degree of mastery through repetition. It gives us the convenience of solving things the conventional way. It helped us sort what worked and what did not; the long-term solution from the temporary alternative. And it’s very easy to pass the learning to the younger generation and to the ignorant. “Do this, it worked since who knows when…” and it works easy as click.
Even inside my home, it still holds water in it. Be random with my son and it will get me into trouble with him. In the office, give me a new type of problem and I’ll waste my time reading and pestering you just like when I was asked to check early thermal requirements for reinforced concrete. See, the experience is a painful one.
Although I must admit that the moment I started going through the unknown and plowed through to familiarize with it, my uncomfortable feelings slowly lifted themselves grain by grain without me noticing it.
Before transferring to our new apartment, I knew how it felt growing “uncomfortable” with the comfortable. During weekends, I would just lay flat on the floor if not for my son pulling me up to buy food and to the naggings of my wife to fix the broken door.
It was very boring that I wish it was weekdays again. And since I don’t have any co-curricular activities like sports, I’m bound to baby-sitting, going to the mall (which is very rare), and playing with my son on the same old familiar corner of the house. It’s very typical, and it hurts. And yes it gets me depressed. I thought all I want with my life is predictability and nothing random.
Guess what’s the payback for monotony? Boredom and depression; it is also energy-zapping, and life-draining. It’s only then that I realized that I wanted something new. I wanted something exhilarating like walking tightrope at the peak of two Burj Dubai buildings or like Johnny Blaze flying in his bike on top of choppers with the main rotor blades on. I want something challenging and something new to conquer.
Career wise, I also learned and still am weeding out all my negative notions on change.
An example is when my wife told me to pursue a master’s degree. Honestly I thought I don’t need it anymore. Why should I when I can gain all the necessary experience from where I work? And perhaps the Lord will still give me three to four more decades of existence for me to learn.
Another reason is for me to overcome my demons first. In everything, I want to be the best: the best design engineer, the most intelligent one, the prime. I want to beat everybody so that I can gain all the respect that I thought that had been deprived of me for so long. I worked my heart out to attain it but I realized that it is futile. I won’t be the best structural design engineer that ever walked on the face of the earth. The best I can be is the best I can make myself become.
I stopped trying to be the best and started to just be the way I am: learning and growing. I think I finally conquered my demon. I want to empower myself and not to beat everyone in existence. Now if only I can make all expenses work…
Nothing is permanent in this world but change. Painful as it is, but it is the reality. We have to move on our lives and embrace all the changes.
It’s easier said than done but we have to do it. It’s tough but it has to be done. If I want something better for my family in the future, I guess it’s enough reason for me to go to the unknown armed with my good motive, and the hope that things will turn out better than now through God’s blessings.
God made doors. And He also made knuckles so we can knock; and hands and fingers that we may open them.
Maybe it’s God pushing me and you to greater heights, yet here I am, here we are, most of the times ignorantly wanting the known, preferring the familiar over the promised abundant blessings for those who explore and persevere.
There’s good news: life doesn’t last all eternity and so are our problems and uncomfortable feelings regarding change. And quoting my intelligent wife again, “…it will pass.”