6 February 2007


Freedom; such a large topic to consider. However, here I am going to talk about what I have managed to get myself into the past 6 months or so, and how I feel somehow liberated.

I guess I can start by giving a short background about myself. I'm a very intelligent person. No really, I am. I used to easily get A's in school with minimum effort, and most problems that others found difficult, I complete with ease. In fact, this might sound silly, but during primary school I actually got the #1 student award. This didn't mean I was #1 in my class, or even in my whole grade. No, it was #1 in my school. Wow.

Anyhow, onwards a few years; achieving things didn't seem much harder during high school or through college. Besides good grades, I did manage to rack in a few other things as well; president of so and so club, vice-president of another, treasurer for another, and I was involved in more events than you can shake a stick at.

After graduation, it was time to face the real world. The real world is different from school and college. There are no "events" you can join per-se in most people's jobs. You have work to do, and you do it.

My attitude towards this was pretty strong; when you work for a specific company, you have a loyalty towards them. You work hard, and you do all you need to do to help make them successful. So during my first job, working 6 days a week was normal.

Jobs don't always seem to last you through your lifetime, so about a year later I found myself at another job. This was at a newly opened bank. It was small, and set to grow; a perfect opportunity has just established itself. I got the job easily; I was given the title of Loan Officer, meaning I would meet the customer, find out his needs and relate it to our product, and complete paperwork to be passed on for processing - simple. However, with time I was also the person who opened accounts, processed loans, brought in new business, marketed the bank, etc etc. Needless to say we had almost 20 people in the bank, and my department was made up of 3 people: Me, my manager, and his manager. Somehow it seemed I was doing 80% of the work in my department.

Coming in on weekends was normal. Staying after hours was a daily occurance. But this wasn't something I worried about; after all, I would get the recognition I deserve, and sooner or later I would grow with the department and the bank. Or would I?

Seems that didn't have much truth to it. Not much recognition, even though our department was the only one really making profits in the bank. And even though I was doing most of the work in that department. But hey, thats life.

I left that job overnight when I got a really amazing offer from another bank. I was chosen as an Executive Trainee from over 1,500 people. The salary was better, the chances for growth were much better, and the opportunities seemed so much greater.

However, as I soon discovered, this job would be the one to bury me. The work load seemed to increase, with the bank switching to a completely new computing system; full training for the new release kept us after-hours till late at night, for over 6 months. And even with putting in the time and effort, when the new system was released, it wasn't anywhere near what we were hoping for.

Slowed transactions increased the workload; we had more and more traffic, and a slower system. But still, there was hope. Our bank had planned a new series of branches which would simplify everything. The new branches were huge, and would provide everything our customers would ever need, from the best service, to the latest in banking technology. This was what we were waiting for.

When the first of these branches opened, I was moved there. Perfect. With arms open I welcomed this new branch, only to behold the biggest disaster in banking history. A rush decision from the Head Office made the branch open 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, instead of the original 8 hours a day, 5 days a week plan. This meant either serious shortages of staff when giving employees regular hours, or serious overworking of the staff. The new system had transaction time slowed to a minimum, and the number of customers was beyond our expections. Way beyond. Put those together and you have a smaller version of Hiroshima in 1945.

Anyhow, I decided not to fret, and put up with it until I see the silver lining behind the clouds. The branch manager also had to leave the bank for a while, and with me being the second ranking person in the branch, I was put in charge of the mess. Almost 6 months of insomnia, headaches, and working an average of 12-14 hours a day didn't make it better. However, being a workaholic, I managed to put all my time and effort into it. My relationships with family and friends started to break down. Problems started coming up, yet I had no time to take care of them. I had to work. Issues at work arose from 3 different directions. I had to take issues from the customers, as the unbelievably congestion, long waiting times and understaffing meant shouting, complaints and other things landing at my desk one after the other. The head office wouldn't help with the understaffing too much, yet would expect better results and were biting at me to move the branch. And third were my staff, weakened by having to overwork, being shouted at by customers all the time, and having to put up with the conditions they were working in. No side was backing up. There was no silver lining.

My vacation was coming up. I was looking forward to it more than a child looking forward to his birthday. I couldn't wait, and as the days got closer, the problems increased. I was starting to lose it, getting higher blood pressure by the day, and just praying and waiting for the day. Customers shouting, screaming phone calls from the head office looking for results, the branch looking like a war zone, chaos everywhere.

And then it came.

My bags packed, everything in place. I was on a plane, travelling to the other side of the world. It was so calm and peaceful.

Nothing could ruin this. I was enjoying the freedom of every minute, every second. And with discovering new places, new faces, I seemed to forget all about the disaster back home. Little did I think I had to be back there in a few weeks.

And then I realized. I started having nightmares, dreading the day I had to go back. This couldn't be happening. I had to find a way out.. I applied to different places, I needed a new job. I couldn't go back. Unfortunately, all my life I was the person to plan everything step by step. I can't quit unless I had something else secured. I can't drop it and not know what my future holds. But I didn't find a job. I kept looking, and looking, all to the tune of, no thanks, were good.

And then one company saw my CV. They liked it. They spoke to me, and it seemed like this might go somewhere. But this wasn't a definite; they still had over 10 other people to interview. Their reply to me would be in 3 weeks.

3 weeks?

I had to be back in the office in less time than that..

So I opened up my computer, opened up my email, and started typing, I would like to thank you for all the years we have worked together...

That's right. I quit. I sent in my resignation, and even though there was nothing planned, nothing confirmed, I did it. At this moment, I felt freedom. I felt liberated.

Not of my job only. I felt liberated from our ways of life, from the daily restrictions placed on us by society. Quit when you don't have anything else, no certain future? Yes.

This was last August.

What happened since then has pretty much been a roller-coaster ride. I was accepted for the job, but worked there a short while and left; it wasn't for me. I started working on a few internet businesses, which started to make me a reasonable amount of money. I had a lot of free time, so I started working on hobbies, perfecting them and turning them into serious things.

It's been six months since I quit, but I have completed so much. I am finally back in Bahrain after all this time, and I am looking for a new job - note, I will not settle for anything. I still have my work ethics of working hard for the company I will join; but I will not let that interfere with my personal life. I have my own freelance projects I want to pursue, and I have started doing so already. Life looks different now, brighter, in a sense. The future is still a little unclear - i'm not sure what kind of turns it will take, but I am actually happy about that.

What happens over the next few months will be exciting; i'm sure of it..

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