When I Was Seventeen

Despite what my baby-face may suggest now, five long years ago, I was seventeen years old. At that time, I had endured my first internship at a prestigious post-doctoral research institute in Princeton, NJ.

A few weeks ago, I found an old blog post describing my experience, and boy, did it hit too close to home. Though I feel relieved that my own perspective has not changed, I am deeply disturbed at how my latest career pursuits relate to it now. Complacency, inefficiency and lack of purpose.

Here goes:

These are my joyous experiences as a first time worker in an office. I cannot know how real this is though, because it’s an educational facility, so the people here are probably nicer. But what do I know? I’ve not yet immersed in a corporate world to know much more than what I hear and see in films.
It fascinates me how much actual free time there could potentially be and how much better companies would function if the employees were actually dedicated, and efficient. Since I’ve started, I’ve already frustrated many by my new ideas on how to improve the way things are done. I know I haven’t worked here as they have, but these are simple shortcuts to get mindless tasks done. Why would you spend three hours collating hundreds of sheets of paper when you can just merge them together on one file and print a certain number of copies? Its little things like that. When not thought through, people waste time. I like to conserve the time, like right now.
Its 9:09 and I am writing this, because I know that if I worked as thoroughly as I usually do, things get accomplished too fast. And once I am finished, my so-called ‘colleagues’ do not have enough confidence in me to give me more tasks to occupy myself with. So I sit here, and watch Lost intermittently and then sip on my water, and browse the internet on celebrity gossip and ‘how-to-be-skinny-without-the-gym’ articles.
So that gives me an idea that maybe all these people are just like me… capable and fast, but then over the years of laziness, procrastination they’ve morphed into mindless blobs that are incapable of thought.
Two weeks ago, I watched from the gap of the hinge in the door of the printing room into my boss’s, boss’s office. The sad thing is, that this woman was put in a high enough position to earn a lot, yet still has virtually no responsibility here. And it is sad because she feels almighty about herself when speaking to people, while her job involves serving on the Professors and post-docs who actually do the research at the Institute.
And as I stood and watched her do online shopping for two hours, it hit me that this represents unhappiness. Sense of purposeless is the immediate unhappiness, and aimlessly searching is what makes most people give up. And from the looks of it she gave up long ago.

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