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Posted By Ritesh Chhajer on Saturday, August 14, 2010
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Identity Crisis"It is not that I come like water and like wind I go.
I do play a significant part in the great whole and I am here today to make a substantial contribution."

You must be thinking what the heck was that? Well, these were the very words that helped Alex to win an essay competition in his first job as a software engineer. After 10 years of fooling around in this profession, he still felt the identity crisis as he did when he was fresh out of school.

Taking a walk down memory lane and rewinding his life 10 years back when the "can-do-anything" attitude with a condescending look at the mediocrity around was all over the place. Inspired by autobiographies of great thinkers and visionaries, he had perhaps expected too much out of himself. 

During those early days, he did anything and everything without any sense of time, taking on challenges and challenging mediocre people head on. It took a long time for him to realize that this attitude just doesn’t work out. After all birds of the same feather flock together & protect each other. And Corporate Culture is no different. A quick reality check would reveal that the notion of revolution works only in make-believe world of escapist cinema. Sadly, the world we live in rewards mediocrity more. 

Van Gogh and Franz Kafka were unrecognized geniuses in their lifetimes. 

He was advised to become nonjudgmental on people. But then how can one be passionate about his work and still be dispassionate and oblivious to the opposing forces. It was hard for him to fathom on why his colleagues were averse to his way of working. Were they feeling insecure or plain jealous?

Talent is subject to ridicule. The more you excel the more number of enemies you'll have. This animosity towards excellence is perhaps due to mediocrity being in the majority.

Nevertheless, that elusive pride of establishing one's own identity was still missing. Finding acceptance in the big bad corporate world was getting frustrating day by day.

Why was Alex going through this whole fuss about identity crisis? What was really driving him to slog day in and day out? Of course he had a choice where he could be just content with his paycheck and maintain the status quo a.k.a work-life balance. Perhaps he was just satiating his false ego and desperately trying to prove a point(To Whom?). It had been bloody 10 years doing that.

Unfortunately, he was never taught about working smart. Hard work and being loyal to his job was all that was instilled. Blame it to his father. Enjoy your work to enjoy your life was his father's philosophy and was passed on as a legacy. Purists would say the greatest glory of happiness is not in doing what one likes but in liking what one has to do. But then whether you do what you like or like what you do, either way life will screw you. So is this the time for Alex to call it a day and just move on? Some may argue you should not give in and keep trying. Huh! Try and try till you die! What if Alex put all that energy and soul into starting something of his own? Is there enough courage and financial stability to pursue that?

All he knew is that the words that won him that essay competition had not yet translated into action. With confusions galore and cynicism all around, the desperation continued. 

So what's your advice to Alex?

Disclaimer:
This posting has nothing to do with my present or past employer.

This posting is a work of fiction and any resemblance with living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Image Credit: Jason's Blog

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  • Gravatar
    Subodh Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 7:51 PM
    The world Alex grew in was different
    The world has changed much. The world doesn't value "values" or "ethos." What may have been sufficient to succeed (honesty,sacrifice,hard-work,you-name-it) has been replaced by cheat-and-succeed or "everybody is clueless, so might as well be myself." Didn't you get the memo? happy

    On a more serious note, yes its a problem of upbringing. Being raised in a competitive environment where a billion people will compete with you puts Alex in a situation where he thinks everyone is out to get him.

    At the same time, while values was all that was needed in 1960s ... the current times need smart decisions in addition to hard work. Sometimes swindling too.

    You see, unlike in the movies where there is a villain and a hero, in the real world, everybody has a place. Just because someone isn't good enough doesn't mean he/she doesn't have a right to earn a living. In fact, if you look at game theory, their sheer numbers mean they're probably the only ones who'll earn a living and still be happy!

    • Gravatar
      Ritzy Monday, August 16, 2010 at 7:25 AM
      No going back
      Unfortunately, Alex missed the memo and has already boarded the bus. Everybody has a space but that's what creates disgruntled men. Everybody would earn a living indeed. But success,happiness and satisfaction are almost like three points of a triangle. You stretch one and others will have to give in.

  • Gravatar
    Rana Monday, August 16, 2010 at 12:03 AM
    little confusing
    I am little confused by this post .. what is Alex's theme here .. values in work-life, mediocre crowd around or being able to do something more than what he is doing currently.. Cheer up Alex and clarify ..

    • Gravatar
      Ritzy Monday, August 16, 2010 at 7:19 AM
      Clarifying confusion
      This post is reflection of the inebriated state of mind of the protagonist who is confused and hence seeking advicehappy

      Perhaps Alex suffers from delusions of grandeur and expects too much from himself as well as life or may be just unable to handle the stupidity and wrong doings around.

      He still continues with age old ways of working but still can't find get a single good reason on why he should tread a different path

  • Gravatar
    Bobby Monday, August 16, 2010 at 9:46 PM
    My advice to Alex
    Here is my advice to Alex and all their symbolic linkshappy
    1. World is full with all kinds of people. Get used to them.

    2. No one forced you to slog your ass. You are a victim of your own choice so stop whining.

    3. Working hard may give you a false sense of satisfaction. But your body will give up on you soon and so would your family. You are obliged equally to give them your time.

    4. If promotion is at the back of your mind, forget it. In any sphere of life, it is never based on individual brilliance as it tends to disrupt the balance of ecosystem. Any decision is made with a view to keep everyone happy. My Best wishes though.

    5. Life if much more beyond the corporate rat race. And you are certainly not a rat. Are you?

  • Gravatar
    Robert Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    I see Alex as one of the many good seeds, who resolve in a tender age to stand up against all odds. Who wants to prove that the "right way" is the right way. Who always wants his conscious happy and satisfied with his deeds.
    But when the seed sprouts; he sees he had expected too much and actually the surrounding atmosphere is responsible for his not blooming up to his expectations. Finally he gives all his dreams up and remains struggling trying to content his conscious.
    But what distinguishes our Alex is that he has not given up yet. He does not want pseudo-satisfaction for himself but is ready to pursue his heart. The only thing he needs is something that can convince him that the Junior Alex was right, it is still possible.
    Alex should follow his visionaries, but need not try to be one of them.Bcoz He can be even better than them. Comparison has no place here. That means he also should not compare him with the Alex he thought of. Bcoz he can even cross him. Go ahead Alex and give it your all, bcoz the "right way" is essentially the right way.
    Best luck !

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