So That I Don’t Lose Myself

During my last week of teaching at a cram school, I had an interesting final exchange with a student from Vietnam who was very much interested in Philosophy the same way as I am.

P, who is the same age as I, had a total of 10 jobs over his life so far- from menial to white collar – but never stuck long with any of them. In each job, however, he claims to had always put his best effort even when it was more than necessary. So outstanding was his performance -he claims- that his previous employers would still call him up to this day to try convince him to return working for them, even for a higher salary.

When I asked him why he couldn’t stay long in any of the jobs he had, and he had two main reasons. Firat was so that he could gain experience and knowledge about many certain fields before deciding to commit in just one for a life time, and the second was so that he won’t lose himself. I saw myself in him and realized I also has the same reason on why I took the job decided yet resigned eventually.

I quit my job because I respect myself enough. The institution circumvented the law in many ways in order to escape giving proper compensation to its overworked employees. I didn’t like the fact I was bringing work at home because the school won’t give me time to check and study materials at school instead: I had to use my personal time, you see. I also couldn’t see the teachers there being respected enough as how they should be: you could tell by how low the wage was and how it didn’t match the effort demanded on the job. In addition, the company doesn’t even allow its employees to establish a union when it is a simple basic right in this country. Long story cut short, I found it a crappy idea to dedicate my life to an institution that won’t value me for what I’m worth nor won’t allow me time and opportunity to grow. I know my colleagues realize this too but are just scared to leave for reasons of uncertainty. But it made me realize that if only talented people refused to work for these abusive foreign companies at such low wages and poor working conditions, maybe these companies would then feel the strong push to raise wages just so in order attract competent people to work for them. Sadly, that’s not how things work in this capitalist developing country.

As for me at the moment, I am so happy with my decision to quit. Now I’m living my life – something I felt was stolen away for seven good months. I get to read the books I want to read, hone the skills I already have, and just enjoy life for what it’s worth. Who knew the job that was supposed to only be a day job and a buffer and a cash cow could take away so much opportunity from me. (It was not even a cash cow at all.) Now I am myself again, doing what I’m supposed to do. The only thing I have to worry about is my wallet getting thinner and thinner day by day: I guess this is the cost of the freedom I asked for. Then again, it’s okay because I’m expecting bigger gains out of this. I’m investing in myself after all.

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