Working Nine–to-Five is Not For Everyone

    For me, working a nine-to-five office job feels like I am constantly in the waiting room. Waiting for my life to start and the colors to come to life.

    The Office Job Takes Over Your Life

    The work-life balance in the UK is sadly not that good.

    Every day you wake up early in the morning, have a quick breakfast, and then leave the house very early to go to work. At work, you sit for eight or nine hours until it’s 5:30 or 6:00, at which point you go home. And on average it takes you an hour to get home.

    Days are long. You spend your days sitting in an office surrounded by other people who feel the same — but never show it. They put on a mask every day. It feels like everybody’s pretending to like being there.

    But in reality, everybody wants to be someplace else. Somewhere more free, more sunny, just somewhere where they are able to work less. Or have some sort of balance. To also be able to spend some time doing what they enjoy and perhaps have more flexibility.

    The typical office job doesn’t offer space for creativity because every day is the same. You have to do things the same way every day and fulfill the job description they provided you with. It is frowned upon if you want flexibility, or to work remotely.

    I never imagined that my life at 31 would look like this.

    leaving 9-5

    My First Experience Working in an Office

    This feeling has been brewing inside me for some time though. I moved abroad because there weren’t many jobs where I lived. Equally, I also wanted to have an adventure. I guess I hoped to find myself.

    But because society always taught me that this is the only right way — to finish University, get a job, climb the career ladder — this is what I did. I didn’t know any better. You’ll be happy, everything will be okay, you’ll be safe, they all said.

    My first proper office experience was when I got my first internship at 23. It was a corporate office in Brussels. In a beautiful building and smart people. However, the office was in the middle of the city, surrounded by other office workers, a lot of concrete, and every day I would come to work at nine o’clock, pretty standard.

    You would spend the entire day sitting at a desk working on a computer and occasionally talk to some colleagues and have a laugh. I remember that the days were so long. Excruciatingly long and sedentary. And I was so young and restless.

    When I walked around this nice-looking office building, everyone was friendly and nice. You could see that the people who worked there were smart and creative. But their offices were small, square-shaped rooms with barely any light coming in. Some didn’t even have windows.

    This, combined with the notorious cloudy and rainy and very grey Belgian weather, made the place a bit dreary. The buildings were grey, everything was grey. I missed the colors of nature.

    A lot of my colleagues stayed long past the official end of the working day. Some stayed over time because they felt they have to, this is their way of showing up. To keep up the appearance of always being switched on. Or maybe they really had that much work to do, who knows.

    But I couldn’t bear sitting on that chair anymore, my body ached after so many hours of computer work and my mind needed a break.

    Sometimes when I’d talk to them I would sense that somewhere inside there was a hidden dream, a desire. For a different life where they would bring their ideas to reality.

    My intuition has always been strong, but unfortunately, at the time I didn’t draw any conclusions from my experience. I was too young for that. My heart was seeing and understanding the message, but my mind was too strong and stubborn.

    leaving the 9-5 corporate job

    Society’s Expectations Are Difficult to Break

    After completing the internship in Brussels I returned to Slovenia and finished University. All done and dusted. But what’s next? I wondered whether this will be my life? Will I become one of those people?

    That was probably my first realization that office work won’t bring me joy, but I didn’t think much of it because that’s where society wants you to go.

    Everyone from teachers, parents, the media, portrays the same picture of success. People in suits, walking into the office building, grabbing a coffee on the go, always rushing to the next meeting, and never slowing down.

    Spending your life inside a building, doing your job, performing your tasks every day, year after year. All this for some big corporations and shareholders that sit somewhere, a few very rich people.

    We don’t know how to break free from society’s expectations that we had grown up with.

    I was the same (and still am) — being scared to do something different. I’m scared to leave the safe and cozy 9–5 job.

    Will I be brave enough to try something else?

    You can follow my journey here.

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