Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Liar Liar

In my yoga teacher training they introduced the concept of "satya". Satya is basically honesty; but it extends beyond simply not telling lies. It also includes lying with your actions, or not living your truth. It came to me recently that I lie with my actions all the time because of my job. I believe that all these lies have infested me, making me stressed and sick and angry. And it needs to change. Here are just some of the ways I lie with my actions.

First of all, working in finance is, in and of itself, a lie. Devoting so much of my time to something that bores me to tears - something I don't care at all about - is draining in the extreme. And it is untrue. It says to the world "I am a finance person. I like numbers and typing and cubicles. I find this sort of thing interesting, obviously, or I wouldn't spend so much time doing it". That is a lie.

Also, being obedient is a lie. I am not by nature an obedient person. I like to reason things out myself and make my own decisions. In an office environment, that is not possible unless you are the CEO, which is not a likely career step for me - see the previous paragraph. Every time I obey an order with which I do not agree or which I don't comprehend the reasons behind, that is a big fat lie. My actions say "I agree with this. I am a yes-woman. I do as I'm told like a good bitch".

I frequently have to attend meetings and trainings of various kinds, due to the changing nature of my work. Sitting passively in these meetings is a lie, because it implies that I care about this crap. Asking questions and making related comments is also a lie, for the same reason. The only honest thing to do would be to skip the meeting or to attend the meeting and pull the discussion off track onto things that actually matter or are in some way interesting. Neither is acceptable in an office environment.

Also, I am frequently asked for advice by ignorant shareholders. I am not supposed to give advice, per company policy, since I am not a licensed stock-broker. But this is a lie against my nature. It is my nature to help others if I can. And while I certainly wouldn't tell them "I am the God of Finance, and my word is law" if left to my own devices, sure, I would talk with them and tell them what I would do in their situations. Refusing to do so is a lie. Lies, all lies!

Also, the very nature of office work is a lie. Succeeding in an office environment has very little to do with merit, and is mostly about pleasing the right people. If you can please the right people, you will do well. If you do something to piss those people off, then you will not do well. Supposedly the business world should function as a meritocracy, but that is far from the case. And I'm not referring to myself; I fully acknowledge that I am not a businesswoman, and that I have no place in office management, etc. But I can think of several people who are intelligent, competent and wonderful who have not been promoted to higher ranks within their respective businesses, simply because they failed to attract the attention of those on power. Sometimes this is because they were overshadowed by attention-seeking sycophants; sometimes it is simply because they are introverted and quiet. Either way, it is troubling to see people who have little in the way of intelligence, integrity, people skills or competence rewarded over the more deserving, but less abrasive employees. I'm not saying that no one who is successful in business deserves it. Of course, many people in power have earned their positions fair and square and are truly deserving. But it's worrisome how often that is not the case.

I am also the kind of person who, by nature, refuses to be bullied and will always stand up for herself. That is not possible in a workplace. If you stand up for yourself, you will be described as "argumentative" or as a person who "can't take criticism" or is "not a team player". When I listen quietly to erroneous and unfair "feedback" without standing up for myself I am a dirty, low down liar.

When I wear shoes because it pleases others, I am lying.

When I go to work when I'm sick, just to avoid using forbidden sick time, I am lying. I am saying "I am totally fine to work, even though my stomach is on fire/my joints are inflamed/I can't stop coughing/I can't talk". Lies.

When I stop myself from making funny jokes, I am lying. It's a lie of omission and a lie against my nature.

Ever since college I have tried to force myself into a normal office job, because that's what normal people do, and I wanted a normal life with contort and stability. What I have come to realize is that you canm have comfort and stability without working in an office, killing yourself slowly, forcing yourself into a situation that feels unnatural and unwholesome to you. I'm not judging people who work in offices. They are necessary to the world, and they are certainly a lot tougher than I am for being able to tolerate it. I admire them for it. But I can't keep joining them.

Soon I will have my yoga certification and it will all be over. Wish me luck!