Being a Square Peg in a Round Hole


So, I’ve been doing a lot of contemplation recently (as always) as to why I constantly find myself unhappy at the workplace, in almost all of the various roles I have found myself in. I have went through several job changes during the past 3-4 years, both during college and post college. I’ve always felt like I’ve been searching and searching for my niche- somewhere that I can just thrive and that is in line with my potential.

Now, I am NOT the type of person who can just settle for finding a job that pays the bills, that I can somewhat stand, and then just live my life clocking in and clocking out for a paycheck so that I can enjoy myself on the weekends. This type of resignation of a lifestyle greatly perplexes me… why would anyone want to live like that? I get that not everyone can pay the bills doing what they absolutely love the most, however, I think it’s important to find something which allows you to spend your precious, short-lived time on earth doing something you at least feel somewhat passionate about and that you enjoy.

My mentality is: this is your life, right now, and it’s not some distant thing in the future that you are working toward ‘someday’ arriving at. If you are not currently where you want to be in life, at least make steps in this moment to get there.

Right now, I am working in a non-profit office environment. I was so excited when I accepted this position over 6 months ago because I was passionate about the mission of the organization and felt like I’d be surrounded by people who truly wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of others and that were compassionate. I thought that I had finally found my niche because I have always wanted to help others and I feel a deep empathy for the suffering and hardships of others.

However, this work environment is totally different from what I expected. Due to the fact that it is a very large, international non-profit organization, it actually has a very corporate culture, which is something that totally does not resonate with my personality. The staff members here, although hard-working and dedicated, I feel are the ladder-climber, type-A personalities of the non-profit world. I am not competitive, nor do I feel the need to put down others to enhance my own success or self-image.

Sometimes I wonder whether they even remember what we are all here for (which is the mission) because they are so immersed in petty office politics and in a silent yet overt competition with one another. I feel like I am back in high school again, because the women I work with are so catty and I feel their judgmental eyes on me and one another constantly. Furthermore, I thought in my position that I would truly be helping others. However, in my role, I am given very little flexibility or responsibilities to actually make a real impact on anything in this organization.

I personally refuse to kiss ass, participate in politics or adjust my personality to make people like me. I am a kind, friendly and open-minded person, but above all, I am genuine. I sincerely dislike when others are not genuine; I can deeply sense their falseness and it makes my skin crawl. I’d prefer someone being overtly rude to me, because at least then, they are being honest and direct and I can work with that.

I can tell that I am the outsider in my work place because I do not conform to the company culture the way everyone else has. I try to engage with others, but it just hasn’t worked- I can’t connect. Everyday I come into work I feel so awkward, miserable and out of place. I feel like I am square peg trying to be shoved in a round hole, and I can tell that others also see me that way also, as I have been told by my superiors that they feel I am not connecting with the other staff members. It’s such a terrible feeling knowing that you have so much potential to offer, but it feels wasted, unnoticed and disregarded all because you are slightly different from the status quo.

Anyways, all of my complaints about my current job are really besides the point, because I think most of you, if not all of you can relate to work-related frustrations and the disappointment that comes when a job is much different than you had anticipated. We can all attest to how dreadful office politics can be and how much it hurts to feel like the odd one out anywhere in life.

The fact of the matter is that I am starting to come to the conclusion that all of my failed attempts at trying to blend in and mesh in an organization and a professional role are pointing me to the fact that maybe I am just not the type of personality that can ‘blend in’ to a traditional role. I’m feeling like I may only feel totally alive, purposeful and passionate if I am living according to my own rules and purpose and not being forced to conform to someone else’s.

To review my current life situation: I am a person who DEEPLY loves, connects with and reveres nature, but I am living in the city– due to convenience in terms of commute to work, and due to complacency in finding a good deal on rent and a great landlord. I am a very creative, artistic, unique and individualistic person in a very routine, structured office role, where none of my talents, skills or abilities are being utilized or recognized and where conformity is seen as the way to succeed.

I’ve tried SO hard to be that person, to be the professional person who throws themselves into their career, that cares about their job and works hard to succeed in an organization- but it’s JUST NOT WORKING FOR ME. I don’t have the personality where I can schmooze and kiss-ass and network. It actually crushes my soul to feel like I have to insincerely network and make careless small-talk with people for the sake of ass-kissing. It just isn’t me and I can’t make myself change.

I used to think that I should try to learn to be happy and adapt in any environment, because happiness should not depend on any external circumstance. I’ve tried to focus so much on spirituality, in that I have been trying to force myself to live by the notion that any unhappiness or dissatisfaction is just a result of the ego and the false notion of self, and that instead of working to change one’s external circumstances, one should only work on meditation and trying to understand one’s inner-world.

Although I feel there is still much truth contained in what I just said- I am also starting to feel like there is more to it. I am starting to feel like we also have to recognize that the personality structure, however false it may be in terms of ‘ultimate reality,’ is still something that greatly affects us in this physical world, and until we are truly spiritually mature enough to really see through the ego in a deep and direct way, we each have a path to follow which is in many ways, governed by our deepest inclinations and passions.

What I mean by this is, I feel we all have a true path to follow, and when we are not living in accordance with our right path, then we will feel extremely out of place and deeply unhappy, like I feel right now– and even that is a part of the path! A great deal of spiritual growth can arise from suffering, confusion and tribulations– however, a great deal of spiritual growth can ALSO result from experiencing our own inner-most joy, love, compassion and passion for life and others. These sublime qualities are really experienced when we feel that our bodies, minds, and actions are all aligned; when we are putting our love into action in the world by doing and manifesting that which we feel is the most true to us as individuals.

Maybe, just maybe, this job that I so hoped and dreamed and felt was the one for me this time, isn’t working out because the universe has another plan in mind for me and this time, It’s going to be an independent, creative venture. I feel I can simply not go through another organization where I feel so confined and forced to conform.

I just want to be happy and joyful and share this happiness, joy and love with others. It’s not about money or status for me, just about fullfillment.

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4 thoughts on “Being a Square Peg in a Round Hole

  1. I feel for your dilemma. Jobs are an abnormal way of making a living. Corporations, non-profit or profit, are not only difficult, but impersonal and destructive to the soul. Mankind lived by the sweat of their brows for millennia. Modern life, by making labor easier, created problems that were not even contemplated in the past. The answer, of course, is working for yourself. How is an individual problem only you can solve. Solve it, you will. I have spent most of my life working for myself one way or another. Only recently have I had the time and space to write about what I really want to write about. http://heliosliterature.com/2015/02/26/does-the-universe-have-a-brain/

    • Kenneth,
      It’s funny that you mention this because I actually came to this exact conclusion and revelation recently– the only way I will really enjoy what I do is if I work for myself! As a result, I’ve begun an Etsy store where I am selling vintage items as well as my own hand-made items: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CannoliLittle

      I am really hoping it takes off at some point because I don’t think I can do this whole working for an organization thing anymore– I’m too independent of a thinker and too much of an individual to mold myself into any organization.

      I really like the way you think. If you ever wanna chat about philosophy or life I would welcome that. My email is whoknowswhenwhat@gmail.com. I think I could learn from your life experience too!

      Thanks for your comments as always!
      -Jess

  2. I LOVE this post. I’m also feeling lost in life and not totally sure what I should/want to be doing, I just know it’s not my current job. I’ve also been trying to tell myself that happiness is a state of mind and shouldn’t be affect by outside circumstances, but with a job I don’t like and roommates I can barely stand, that’s really difficult! I hate that you’re passion is being wasted and that you don’t have more of an impact at the organization that you value so much. I hope you’re able to find something that fits with your personality and that allows you to follow your passion in helping others.

    • Brandy, thank you so much for your comment- it means a lot.

      I hope that you find a way to work towards a better future for yourself, because you certainly deserve to be happy.

      I was once in the same situation as you– terrible, insane roommates and a job I hated at the same time. I did everything possible to work my way out of the situation even though I tried telling myself to make the best of it.

      Well, I tried making the best of it but when it came down to it, actively working towards moving away from that situation toward a more fulfilling one was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done. I know you can do it too.

      Best wishes to you and feel free to email me at whoknowswhenwhat@gmail.com.

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