May 29, 2014

the cat in the aquarium.

Don't you think that it's annoying when some thoughts continue to niggle in your head and no matter how much you try to push it aside, it adamantly stays and continues to niggle in your head until you tell someone... or rather, write about it. AND the best part is that these kind of thoughts almost always crop up at a time when you're supposed to be doing something else, which is really more important and urgent, and yet, you can't get past it, until you get those niggling thoughts out of your head. 

Isn't it annoying, don't you think?


Today's that day. 

I have this "not run of the mill" kind of opinion which I need to research on, draft and submit at least by the end of this week (which is in 2 days!) and I've already been researching since last week. I more or less have some kind of idea on how I'm going to approach it and today's supposed to be THE DAY I start drafting it based on my findings, but as you can see... here I am, having this incessant need to get some things out of my system.

Else, I think I'd go insane, I'm serious. 


Some time last week, I came across an article about "cat in the aquarium vs. cat on the streets". I can't remember who wrote it, but it was on Facebook, so in retrospect I'm not really sure now whether it was really an article or just one of those "what's on your mind" kind of things.

After reading that "article", I don't know why I felt like saying something; not in defense, not in retaliation, not in anger but rather in a way which would (I hope) make people understand that each individual comes with their own set of skills (whatever that may be) and that even if other people thought you're better suited for another "calling", only you can determine if it's true. 


In gist, the story of the cat in the aquarium goes, 

"The cat in the aquarium gets fed on time, gets bathed on time, gets all the basic necessities that cats need, but the cat is in the aquarium, which if one thinks of really deeply, is not where cats really belong. On the other hand, the cat on the streets have to fight for territory, fight for food and fight for their basic needs but the cat on the street is on the streets, free to determine where it wants to go and how it should live... as it should be."

Do you understand the metaphor? And what the "author" was trying to get at? 

If you don't, then, I suggest you to not continue reading, because you, my friend, are a little bit lost (at least in this case).

The moment I finished reading that article, I admit that I, for a fleeting moment, felt little bit offended. Just a little bit. I wanted to comment on it, but knowing that that in itself would not satiate me of my need to say something, I decided that my comment was blog-worthy. So here I am.


I admit that cats don't belong in aquariums. No doubt about that. But I also think that that was too extreme an example to prove that those who work for others for a living are drowning in a place they do not belong. Cats, no doubt, don't swim. Not like fish do. But I always believe that cats, like all of us, can be taught to do something that they don't naturally do, in order to survive. 

Yes, I work for "someone" for a living and if you think about it really, really hard, I actually work for you. Yes, you, you and you, the public. You may think that public servants are a million little bad things and that we have no good in us, but you've probably never met me in a meeting involving public funds, and public rights and lands belonging to the Federation. 

You may think that I have the worst job in the world because I have no motivation to continuously strive for more and that I never think about how to improve myself or increase myself in knowledge since I work for someone else, so what's the point in that anyway... and I don't blame you because you probably don't know me at all. 

You may think I am drowning, but honey, do you really know?


I am a public servant by choice, just as some people who are working in corporations, and in companies, and just as you are on the streets, which I assume is also by choice. We all made the decision to be where we are today with (I assume) an open mind and an open heart and with eyes wide open and trust me, despite what you think about me and the other people working for other people, we, the cats in the aquarium are pretty content with our lives, thank you very much.

Newsflash! There's no easy job in this world, trust me. People say that being a stay at home mom is the best job in the world, but after having gone through 3 months of maternity leave, I can't say I agree. People say that doing business is the best way to get rich, but I've done small businesses before and I for one know that the initial weeks, months and sometimes years into the business are the hardest, especially if you have a shoestring budget. And that was just me selling phone credit and cookies. People can tell me a million times that working for themselves is the best thing in the world; they get to go to work at 10 a.m., they get to choose whether or not to actually get up, they get to determine their own time and where to go and who to meet and when and how, and much as I am convinced that that's the truth, we all know that when you work for yourself, time is money and each hour you spend lounging in bed or aimlessly surfing the internet, not actually finding business opportunities and not having the necessary willpower, tenacity and gut to keep on going with the business means that no money will be coming into your account. So, if you're not up for the challenge and don't have a trust fund in your name with millions in it, you can imagine how long you're going to take to recoup your already non-existent money.

 But I admit that life working for other people isn't exactly a walk in the park and far from being glamorous, no doubt about that. I have my moments of frustration, I have moments when I'm just so lazy to even get out of bed to head to the office, I have had moments when I feel like an undeserving colleague shouldn't have been promoted along with me because I feel like I've worked so much harder and that I deserve preferential treatment for it, I have moments when I just feel like flipping the table when I get it from my bosses, but believe you me, I have my happy moments as well. I have the opportunity to learn a million different things daily, I get motivated to learn more even when I get something wrong because there are people willing to teach me the right way and best of all, I have a constant payslip which makes it pretty easy to get a housing loan, among other things. May not sound very inspiring or interesting or challenging in the eyes of the street cat, but I don't have a trust fund in my name with millions in it, so a girl's got to do what she's got to do. Always remember that most of the important (and basic) things in life require money. Constant money. And constant is my choice.


From my general observations, people often like to paint a glamorous picture of their lives. Don't know whether it's more for show or more for their own self conviction.

For women it's all about the handbags and "abundance" of time for their children. For men, it's all about their ability to determine their own way and not having to subject themselves to some other big guy's directions or decisions; in a nutshell, it's all (always) about their ego. And I admit that working for yourself gives you an unmatched satisfaction, gives you freedom to determine exactly how you want things to go and how things will get done, but working for other people has its perks too.

Thing is, the hard truth is, whether you work for other people or work for yourselves, you have to toe the line. It doesn't matter which line; but there's always one you need to follow. Be it for funding purposes, lobbying purposes, business opportunity purposes, getting approval purposes, trust purposes. 

The very least is you've got to follow the law (commercial, contract, personal data protection, online banking) and that my friend, is also known as a line. In some way or another, you are bound to be subjected to some other big guys' rules. True story.


I've so much more to say, but I think I've already lost most, if not all of my readers by now.

In a nutshell, we all think that working for ourselves is the best thing to do, but are we really up for it? Do we have to make an informed decision or can we just dive into it head first? Will passion be enough? Seriously, if you don't want to take it from me, take it from Malaysia's sweetheart Vivy, who I think aptly summarised the point I'm trying to make -  

"I think most of my friends and I are at that stage where we’re trying to find careers that make money, not something that make our eyes bright up. Most of us probably don’t even know what our passions are yet.

I think when we want to start a business out of passion, we have to use our heads. Life is about happiness but also about survival; to survive in this world you need money.  So we can’t be happy creating a passion business that doesn’t make money. It’s like falling in love. Yes, love is dandy but it alone won’t pay the bills or feed the family."

And if you're working for someone else, is it really that bad or are you just jealous that some of our other feline friends are able to roam the malls on weekdays during office hours while we toil and type and work our butts off in the office? Seriously, is it really that uninteresting and boring to be getting a paycheck at the end of the month and to be given recognition for helping an organisation grow? Seriously, think!


I think we all have a place in this world; some people can work for themselves because they have the discipline, passion, money, contacts and skill to do so.

Some people are better off working for other people because we work better with people even if it meant that we would be making money for and together with others.

Like my mom always said, "Some people lead and some people follow; and people lead and follow in different shows. Sometimes other people are better in other things that we were never even good at. And yes, we can be good at everything, but we must never be greedy. Be thankful, be honest, be hardworking. Things will just fall into place."

And like my dad always says, "Rezeki itu datang dalam pelbagai bentuk. Bukan saja duit yang banyak, tapi hati yang senang, kesihatan yang baik, dan semuanya cukup. Kalau dah ada semua, jangan lupa bersyukur."


So, yes, some cats don't mind it in the aquarium; some cats like it better in the streets.

To each their own.


Anonymous said...

A good write up. Well done girl.

Haneesa said...

Thank you :)

Idayu said...

i read this post many nights ago, just seconds before i fell asleep. and every few days before today i would read it again, to remind myself i just have to drop a comment :)

i was (or maybe, sometimes, am) a government servant wanna-be. even tried out few times,but my rezeki is in other sector it seems. but in this current industry i had dealt with few government officers and it was plain painful and pointless .

until this post. i now realize the government does have gems running the offices :) thank you for all that you've done. it may won't affect me.. but it will somehow touch the lives of my relatives, my friends' relatives etc..

Haneesa said...

Idayu, thank you for your kind words. May you find happiness in your life, too :)