What if you’re stuck in a ‘stay up late, party it up’ industry as a go-home-after-work guy

The Olympics are a truly incredible series of events — a bunch of dedicated and hardworking individuals displaying extraordinary skills. They are a testimony to the true range of human potential — of how a sadistic and singular focus on your craft can pave your way to stardom.

Unfortunately, this is also a time when the media and many elders within our families (often while watching these TV shows) romanticise “talent”, on how some people are “gifted” and how they are “destined”.

They urge their kids to realise their “talents” to pursue coveted (read cliche) dream jobs. Mix these misdirected urges with an unhealthy dose of instantly gratification-led reality most millennials and Gen Z live in, and you have a delusional and sadistic view of life where it’s fine to live begrudgingly in order to earn a bit more, achieve a bit more, and eventually, die a bit more every week.

To the career-obsessed teenagers and 20-somethings out there still “figuring it out”, let me present a different perspective — you shouldn’t remain “stuck” in a job or stream you hate, but it’s not criminal to do what you’re good at and what makes you money, like Corporate Finance. There’s no monstrosity in not being singularly “passionate” about being a bank teller or an accountant. We’re more than the designation on our ID Cards.

It is perfectly fine to hold a corporate job to fuel your “passion” for travel and not try to be a travel vlogger in the middle of a pandemic. It’s actually a smart call to test your entrepreneurial idea while you’re working from home before putting in your resignation and being left high and dry.

Remember, we all wear distinctly different personas at work and at home — from the responsible sibling to the go-getter at work, from the doting partner to the kind neighbour — we all get our game faces on.

For those who may not be convinced, I present to you… me. Imagine a shy and socially awkward 30-year-old dweeb. I skip house parties where more than three people have signed up, pretend to be asleep if my flatmate calls in his friends and only drop by party hotspots at odd hours for networking events and brunches.

“Partying” is my Kindle and me in solace, and a “lit party” is me and my best friend watching 90s chick-flicks in a “barely lit” room, drinking cheap wine and occasionally bobbing our heads to Coke Studio classics. I’m all that… and a marketer in the country’s largest digital products company.

In a “stay up late, party it up” industry, I’m the go-home-after-work guy.

So how does a timid introvert ask tough questions to an antagonistic CEO or become the most “approachable” guy at work? You flick the switch and play the “fool”, the court jester.

You smile when you’re sad and smother colleagues with compliments when you’re frustrated, angry or low. Your compliments are often fake, but the smiles on their faces kindle your soul for real. It’s tricky to manage a polar opposite alter ego if you want to make friends at work or have fallen for a colleague, but practice maketh a man perfect.

You would think it is emotionally exhausting to work a job that demands an emotional aptitude you lack. But I present to you that there’s a whimsical adventure in this contradiction and it’s been the bedrock of my professional life.

That’s my grand design — I’ll never let “them” figure out I’m a shy, boring and awkward imposter masquerading as an eloquent, ambitious and measured professional who has a grip on life. It’s been nine and a half years and they haven’t found out yet, and till the time they do, my game’s afoot.