Cursèd be my cubicle

Two flimsy gray walls, three filing cabinets and one rarely used dry-erase board make up the landscape of my work cubicle. My mind travels often to places I have been and those I long to see, yet this is the daily scenery starving my adventurous soul.

I used to love my job. That was before it became three positions in one.

Since corporations began laying off millions during the economic crisis several years ago, there’s a phrase that’s became all-too-common. Somebody complains about work. Somebody else replies that, “At least you have a job.” We can all use a silver lining on our dark days, but after awhile these six words lose their power to console.

Five days a week, we drag ourselves into the cube farm, into temporary, makeshift work spaces, many of us banging our fists against our internal walls in hopes that someday it will end. One recent study shows that 82 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their current jobs. Harvard Business School puts the number at a 23-year low. This, I would say, is a problem.

We often compromise happiness for the sake of keeping a stable job, the promise of a pay raise and a well-deserved promotion up the corporate ladder. But what is that all worth when our sanity is in jeopardy? For many, it means a place to live, money for food and insurance for yearly doctor’s visits. But in my three years with the same organization, I’ve received a one percent raise, a position title decrease (in other words, a demotion) and a tripling of my responsibilities. The result of staying at my job: countless days of stress and an platinum membership in the 82 Percent Dissatisfaction Club.

Corporations have many of their employees cornered. Managers keep piling on more work, knowing that their employees have little choice but to take it in stride. These employees were the lucky ones who survived several rounds of layoffs, after all. But I question how many managers have shifted their focus toward stabilizing (or improving) employee morale. In my organization, concerns about morale were like the weather: everybody talked about it but nobody did anything about it. It appears my colleagues and I were not alone. According to, 84 percent of Americans plan to look for new jobs in 2011. We may be stuck in a corner, but we’re not happy being there.

The problem is that those fortunate enough to be offered new positions end up facing similar problems in their new companies – little training, increased responsibility and pressure to meet the same expectations as their predecessors. As a result, researchers predict this same 84 percent searching for new jobs will either remain in their current positions or wind up equally unhappy in their new ones.

We graduated college with the promise that hard work would bring us success. As it turned out, many of us battled several rounds of corporate layoffs by the time we reached 25. Now, those of us holding steady jobs sit in our file-piled cubicles hoping something more glamorous will come along.

My plan? Hide in grad school for the next two years, rack up college loans and jump back into this world with my eyes closed once someone hands me a diploma.


Sara Maurer lives too nomadic a life to put much about her location or career in writing. Since graduating St. Bonaventure University in 2006, her priorities have included travel, meeting new people and learning the ways of the world firsthand. Raised in Western New York, she has lived in Italy, Orlando, Denver, Chicago and New Orleans.

She spends most of her days wondering why people are a certain way and pondering the meaning of life’s seemingly random occurrences. She has a deep passion for helping those less fortunate and believes in the power of paying it forward. She sees communication as fundamental to life as chocolate and guacamole and combines social media with her louder-than-necessary voice to bring people and ideas together.

Sara is on track to receive her Masters in International Social Work from Tulane University. Mildly obsessed with culture, diversity, relationships and finding her role in creating world peace, she finds the most insightful conversations are often struck up with strangers in airports, public buses and bars. Most of her writing aims to reach the fellow lost souls of Generation Y and includes, but is not limited to, reflections of world issues, travel, relationships and maintaining sanity while growing up.

She does not eat animals, never leaves home without a camera and loves Nutella (really, she centered an entire blog post around the Italian staple). In 2007, she went skydiving over the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado and her parachute did not open, subsequently requiring the use of a “back-up” parachute. This circumstance sums up the story of her life, as she often thinks of a back up plan for the initial plan that never goes as planned while she’s already spiraling into the abyss.

8 replies »

  1. well said Sara. and your bio at the bottom makes you sound like quite an interesting person. If i didn’t already know you. i certainly would want to.

  2. I’m not sure grad school and more loans to pay is the answer. Maybe some kind of entrepreneur thing or freelance thing?

  3. I graduated from Bona’s before Lehman Brothers’ body was cold. I’ve been laid off once and was an intern at a newspaper that nearly closed. I’m currently ecstatic to have a job in my field that I like. It even pays my bills. That said, I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, which can take the joy out an otherwise good work environment.

  4. I can certainly relate as a former employee of the organization you work for (and as your colleague a cube over :)). I think heading to New Orleans will be just the ticket.

    Or, you could just hit the road and live in a camper like I have. The view from my window changes every day (at least, almost every day!).

  5. Tim – I thought of you often while writing this post. You were my fellow cubicle-curser who gave up office life to tour the country in a camper. Thank you for being an inspiration and following your “American Dream.”

    I’m happy for all those who are in careers they enjoy. I hope to be there too once I receive my Masters Degree and change organizations. Maybe I, too, will get a job that even pays the bills!

  6. Sara, I like the posting even better the second time. And your bio is priceless, especially the last line. Perfectly described. I look forward to the next entry. Love, Mom

  7. Sara, you always surprise me with your level of maturity. Your thoughts are so valid, your writing is droll, and your outlook is glass half full (but you want it to be full.)
    I miss your smile and your sense of humor.
    Lord knows it would be useful where I work.