Maybe it’s just a long overdue side-notes. Or maybe it isn’t. On this blog, I haven’t written a complete story on how I resigned from PhD programme after 4,5 years surviving all the ups and downs. But I guess, it’s too long to write for now. Now, I just want to redefine work. But work is the thing we mostly do when we do not sleep. So, by defining work, we can then define what does it mean to be alive.
I was frustrated. Even though I quit PhD on my own term; even though I felt so relieved to have pulled the plug, it’s not easy to live a life as a terminal ABD (All-But-Dissertation). No matter how we can direct our consciousness to arrange a positive narrative about what happened to our life, thinking is a chaotic process where negative thought arises from a pipe (which lies somewhere on imaginary mental system) every now and then.
When that kind of thought arose, I started to feel the so called FOMO. I started to imagine what my friends have achieved while I was busy doing a PhD I couldn’t finish.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any regret to quit my PhD. And I believe I did not waste my resources. The learning curve is there. The realisation of the true meaning of many things. All the experiences was worth it.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe a job is not a career. And value is what matters. Luckily, many people see my values. Many people still trust me.
But of course, that’s never enough. Obviously, human and dissatisfaction can never be fully decoupled. I once thought the only thing we need to learn is self-respect. The virtue of self-respect could save us from feeling useless like a piece of plastic bag. Inner authority is the only thing which can break us free from the prison of other people’s expectation. But then, inner authority is just a pole. On the opposite pole, we need feedback to validate our view towards our self. Otherwise, we would live as a megalomaniac who’s disillusioned about oneself’s greatness.
And, in seeking that validation, our closest people’s alone don’t suffice. It’s no use to hide from the fact that we human, no matter how deep we could grasp the abstraction of a higher meaning of everything—a world outside the Plato’s cave, would still be longing for a this validation from time to time. It’s just humane. We can’t fight it. Fighting it means trying to not be human. And we don’t want to be anything but a sentient creature. It just happens. Or it just ensues?
But life is a box of surprises.
On that particular day, I attended a meeting where I thought I was about to negotiate something. The night before, I consulted with Dannis on this matter after he received an award from A CEO I never knew before was interested to meet the men behind our YouTube channel. And it’s such a coincidence I was in Jakarta.
I brought nothing. No CV. The guy didn’t know me before. I had to introduce him about myself. He asked me questions. I answered what crossed my mind. No script. No nothing.
And after approximately 30 minutes, out of the blue he asked me to join his machine learning team. It was a crazy offer, right? How come people asked you to join his company based on words? Without any credentials.
It’s absurd. It caught me off guard. Even my Dannis, a CMO of Traveloka was also surprised when I told what happened after the meeting was over. Even a friend who worked as a PM there also surprised.
And, in that moment, I realised there’s nothing I missed out. If only I wanted to take the opportunity, I could as well receive monthly salary not far from friends who’s been nurturing their career in IT world.
Despite of me quitting PhD and having no legit work experience (Can you count a 2,5 months of apprenticeship and just a few tens hours of teaching assistantship as a proper working experience?), there’s a real people, a CEO of a reputable company (even Dannis, who rarely compliment people, said he’s “Jago”) offered me a job!
But, maybe, that doesn’t give a whole perspective to this crazy job offer story.
On my way home, I kept analysing how did it happen exactly? There must be an explanation, even for a crazy random occurrence.
Surely, the guy see values in me, in us.
One thing for sure, our channel was gaining his attention. Our works project our values.
That’s the first one. Secondly, he gained some sort of trust hearing my stories. Mind you, we discussed random stuffs from youtube channel to machine learning stuffs, from normative things up to my personal experience.
I guess, storytelling is an underrated skills that could lend you a job without sending a CV. A great storytelling could make a CEO wants to hire a guy he barely know about for 30 minutes.
Your value is only as good as your storytelling.
But you can’t just make up good stories. Well, maybe you can make up good stories. Make people clicked the bait. But then, it won’t last forever.
If there’s one thing I believe can get us out from an improbable situation: it’s honesty. Honesty is the last wall protecting our decency as a human being. To be honest about our mistakes and flaws.
I literally told him I do not have any particular skills for the job he’s offering. I simply do not own the skillets. I told him my research was not going pretty well, and that’s why I quit. And after it’s been said he asked that question where I was not sure how to react. And the second time he asked again, he asked me to consider and I agreed.
Absurd isn’t it?
But maybe, there’s something. Something with my stories that added up. Making a compelling story to gain his trust.
I did tell him I was once worked on NLP related stuffs. I did tell him my supervisor still believed that I’d become a PhD one day.
Maybe. That added up.
Oh, one more thing. There’s a question. A question that had never been asked so blatantly to me, as far as I could recall. “Are you a child prodigy?”
I’m not sure, I answered.
And once again, I was reminded, the most important thing in life is to create value. In fact, creating value is what a business does! But then, the world develops and now many people have a job even thought they don’t create an actual value. Some create value but so far below what they potentially could achieve. Some create value for the company but not for himself.
Some has lost the meaning of work itself.
Is surviving life so impossibly tough that it has to cost a man a meaning to his work?
There’s no easy answer to it. And the hard truth won’t be easy to comprehend. Not for those who’s not humble enough to realise his/her powerlessness.
And then I continued this journey, believing that now is the right time to jump in. To fulfil what’s been put aside for a long time. To make a bet. To start creating values I want to create.
It’s so silly sometimes life dictates us to live a life doesn’t suit our ideal concept of it. But that’s life. It’s what it’s.
No matter where you are. No matter how old or young you are. No matter what kind of job you have or (not) have; even when you’re jobless. It doesn’t matter whether you gain money or not. It doesn’t matter what others have achieved. All you have to do is to build up your craftsmanship. Bring up some good work! Never stops to create values!
And good things will happen…