Life was made for living


All it took was two years in the corporate world, and most of my soul, decayed and rotting to its core, to realise that life was made for living.

This thing that we were all doing in our glass tower blocks wasn't it. And we spent more time there than anywhere else on this planet. It was more like a play. We got there each day, donned our costumes and acted out the parts we were given so we could earn a fee at the end of it all. No one ever played themselves, that was one part that never needed casting. 

They warned me before I started, told me it was no good for me, but staring at an object so shiny and with a youthful arrogance that always knows better, I pricked my finger on the spool, only to fall asleep for the next two years. I would sit in the tower, staring out through the glass and wish to god my hair was long enough to throw down and somehow, someone, would climb up and take me away from it all. Or that maybe a prince, I would have even settled for the frog, was going to kiss me and wake me up from it all. Of course there wasn’t. The slicked hair in suits were living through the same nightmare and they didn’t know how to get themselves out of it, let alone a damsel in distress. My prince was trapped in pinstripes and power points as he testified to his colleagues as to the size of his balls.

It would have to be me. Which was daunting, but the realisation of the cesspit you're sitting in is half the battle to changing your landscape. So I did what you're not supposed to do and decided to step my toe out of the system. It would carry on without me just fine. They had plenty of souls to gorge on and I decided I was having mine back. I needed it. I wanted it.

So I did what any creative, self-respecting mac owner who hangs out in coffee shops does; I went to work for a start-up. I realise you might be disappointed at this point as you may have hoped that with my old kit bag in one hand and my mac firmly in another, I had marched off to distant beaches in Thailand to write my novel while sipping milk out of a coconut every night in various yoga positions I can’t pronounce.

But honestly, I’ve never liked yoga, coconut milk isn’t that nice (yes I went there and I regret nothing) and I have this strange addiction to electricity, and while constant beach sunsets are nice, the glow from my fully charged phone is also a pretty spectacular sight.

So until they invent a phone with unlimited battery life, and I somehow inherit a fortune I never knew existed that will allow me to travel around the world without having to sweat the small stuff like, food and rent, the working world is still calling my name.

But the best thing about working for a start-up; it’s not a corporate. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of a corporate and all of a sudden if feels like I’m breathing again.

Creativity happens anywhere, any time. It’s not all beanbags and foosball tables, it’s incredibly hard work. But it’s hard work that’s done by a group of individuals who love what they’re doing.

I couldn’t remember the last time I sat in a room in the corporate world and there was one person in the room who loved what they were doing, let alone the whole bunch. Rules and regulations are swapped out for innovation and creativity. No cares about a tie and a suit, just wear what you’re happy working in. Hierarchy has no place and if you’ve got an idea, grab a Founder and tell them all about it, probably as you both ride hover-boards through your office as you’re on the way to the next meeting, in a room that just so happens to have a Harry Potter quote on the wall. Because why not.  

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge amount of work and everyone is gunning at it for 14 hours a day. People argue and get irritated with one another and sometimes your frazzled nerves can’t take that one colleague who whistles constantly anymore. But people argue because they’re all so passionate about what they’re doing and everyone is excited to bring ideas to the table. Your fed up with the whistling because you’ve happily spent 14 hours in the office and so you’ve heard that tune on repeat. In essence, people give a shit. Because everyone is in that environment, because they love what they do and they care about their work. Put that together with a team of great people, you’ve got a workplace jam full of happy people.

When you love what you’re doing, suddenly your life quite seamlessly rolls into one, and it’s no longer work and life. It’s no longer pain and pleasure. It’s just life.

We’re part of a generation that doesn’t believe in the big corporates anymore. We stood on our graduation podiums and watched them crash, the corporations we were supposed to blindingly trust, and we’re now making way for a new type of business. A style of business that shifts away from constrained and archaic methods, because after all, since when did sitting for 12 hours a day in an uncomfortable suit at a meeting you’re not allowed to speak in ever get any good out of anyone.

The suits and the rules and the big shinny tower blocks can kill you – and any creativity you’d managed to cultivate over the years – and who wants that, because after, life was made for living. 

Salma El-Wardany