Guest Post: Career Sellout?

13 Jul

Today we have a guest post that really resonates with so many of us. Our good friend Rick Ramos from Unseen Denver gives us some insight on how one can stay true to themselves while growing into a career. He charts the disconnect from idealistic youth to a centered and successful grown up who is happy with who he is. And really isn’t that all any of us want? You rock, Rick!

Not unlike many of you reading this, I work in a cubicle. Three and a quarter textile walls, a desk supported by file cabinets, with a computer full of folders containing various documents and spreadsheets. As all of this may seem normal to most, I sometimes wonder how this ended up being the life that I have chosen for myself. When I talk about work with my peers, I always seem to mention that I never thought I would ever work in an office. It never occurred to anyone to ask, and I never really thought about it until now; “What would I be doing if I didn’t?”

Let me offer some background for a little better perspective:

I am the first generation of my family to grow up outside of the ghetto. As a boy I ran around the mean streets of Denver, Colorado. You could hop a slow-moving train, in the suburban town I grew up in, and hop off at what I think is now the Riverside Park area (the story becomes fuzzier each time I tell it). It was an adolescence full of punk rock shows, skipping school and running away from home to sleep on bus benches or on the roof of buildings.

After high school, and a decade of Kerouac-esque American vagrancy (salted with a righteous distrust for all authority), I found myself back in Denver. I was sitting at a stylish Herman-Miller desk during the day and remotely training an office full of employees in India by night. I’m now writing the third chapter in this career story; complete with responsibility, authority and a fancy three-word job title.

“You may ask yourself: well… how did I get here?” -David Byrne

As I maneuver through the Great and Dirty Decade I think of the compromises I have made in order to grow up and merge with a society that I was largely against in youth. Getting up early to fight traffic so I can get to work on time to do the same thing I did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before… The 23 year old me never imagined the 33 year old me would ever exist. To answer the question of what I thought I would be doing if I weren’t working in a cubicle; honestly I’ve never thought about it. The surprising thing though is that I truly love my work. It is fun, cognitive, fulfilling and I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else right now.

When making decisions for my life I have always asked myself “Would teenage me think grownup me was cool?” As trite as that might seem, it has led me to a happy and comfortable adulthood. I have been able to live within the system, without the system. The glamour of a life full of punk rock and whiskey bottles in the gutter has become a life of punk rock and whiskey bottles with a swimming pool out back. It’s possible to become a grownup without selling out, buying in or wearing a stupid Matthew Lillard, SLC Punk office-monkey suit and tie. 16 year old me might think I was a sellout, however 23 year old me would be fucking stoked to know the man he was going to be. Being a grownup rules.


6 Responses to “Guest Post: Career Sellout?”

  1. enyabiznass July 13, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    I had no vision of myself after 25, and little vision of what life would be like between college and 25. Since college I’ve been an engineer, waitress, temp, fundraising sales manager, executive admin, operations manager, program assistant, instructional designer, and now an academic director. I wouldn’t change it. I still can’t believe they hired a kid (30 at the time of hire) like me to do a grownup job like this!

  2. Sport July 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Dude. I know that all of us get there at different time, but eff me, I can’t wait for my time to come. I often think I’m behind the curve on my career and am desperately trying to catch up with kids in their 30s. But I realize that it’s all in due time and I’m starting to realize that making your career what you want not only takes savvy and skill, but a great deal of courage.

    I applaud anyone who can look at what they’ve made and be able to stand as tall as Rick. Bravo, my friend. Now, teach me.

  3. Angie July 15, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    Teach me too!

    26, almost 27. In a cube. All day. Still finding a balance between the youth I feel like I’m leaving behind and the life I’m headed towards as a wife, probably a mom, and a full-time working woman.

    Not sure if a teenage me would think I was cool, but I think she would respect me. I know the 22, 23, and 24-year-old me would thank me for finally making it out of some serious shit.

    • Rick Ramos July 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

      It’s a healthy mix of fun at work and at home. It also helps to have a job that you enjoy at a company you believe in.

      I couldn’t tell you how parenting would fit into my little philosophy. I’m guessing it would probably have to include arguing with your kids about who farted.


  1. Tweets that mention Guest Post: Career Sellout? « Talk Thirty To Me -- - July 13, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rick Ramos, Rick Ramos, shellieshel and others. shellieshel said: Speaking as a 40-something punker & corporate drone, I love this. RT @TalkThirtyToMe Career Sellout? (by @trypnotik) […]

  2. Talk Thirty to Me: Kinda Dirty, Really Awesome (an Interview) | Erika Napoletano is Redhead Writing - August 5, 2010

    […] shared are DIVERSE. It’s not all pissy and whiny. It’s a collection of cool shit mixed with cubicle angst with a snarky side of “fuck off.” If you keep coming back to RedheadWriting for more than my […]

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