The Bottomless Cup

Category: Career

Is your job supposed to bring meaning to your life?

A month ago, the television show The Office came to an end with a rather emotional series finale. It has been a show that my brother and I have followed religiously and I had waited to return to Pakistan to watch it with him. In that episode, the characters finally say goodbye to the small office floor of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company for good. Most of them seemed to have disliked their work, but they were all having a hard time saying goodbye. When the episode ended, my brother asked me “do you consider these people successful?”

English: Logo of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin...

English: Logo of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin paper company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had to pause for a moment to answer that question. Come to think of it, a monotonous sales job in a dying industry seems like a nightmare. Yet, I couldn’t possibly say that they weren’t successful. Some of them found their spouses at work, others remembered it as the place where they made their best friends. They all seemed to have grown out of the experience at this seemingly horrid work environment. My answer to my brother was eventually a “yes.”

But what does this idea mean for my generation, who’re about to launch their careers? I personally am on the verge of turning down another high paying job offer, for something uncertain and definitely something with a lower salary. I will never know if it is right decision, but I know that I would not be true to what I believe are my capabilities if I accept it. This also means that I will have to wait longer for my future to materialize into something stable. The idea of that is terrifying.

Regardless of what these job decisions entail, we should always realize that our careers only define one facet of our growth. A friend of mine, Shivani, just advised me to stop worrying about wherever my career takes me and that I should continue to do the things I love.  She told me to “connect back with writing, running and anything else [I] would like to do.” This is probably the best piece of advice I could have gotten.

These words by Andy Barnard from the finale to describe his work environment really resonated within me:

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

We need to realize that if we have a job that we hate, or no job at all, we can still be successful individuals. Remember to make the most of the moment you’re living in.


Finding Your Entrepreneurial Identity

Entrepreneurship is part of human nature; our desire to do business is something intrinsic to all of us.  My idea of an “entrepreneurial identity” is about this dream of a unique business that you probably had all your life. I have yet to come across someone who doesn’t.

I’ve had this obsession with books ever since I can remember. Note that my obsession with books does not necessarily translate to my fondness of reading. I enjoy reading, but I am not a regular reader. I do however, love owning books. I therefore knew that I would want to start up a business related to books.

I also love coffee. I get very picky about cafes, and I have a couple of favorites where I go study. Due to this, I have acquired the ability to tell between different coffees. Therefore, my dream project is setting up a cafe for intellectuals. Even though these are common all over the world, it would be something new in Pakistan.

The cafe industry is very artificial and glamorous here. Cafes do not serve the utility that they serve in many parts of the world. For me, a cafe is a place where one can study, read, have meetings or discussions. It is also interesting to note that the first cafes were built in Damascus for the very reason of intellectual discussion. A library-cafe hybrid would be a good way to describe what i want.

My cafe would be one where one could read books from a selection, work on one’s laptop or carry out meetings in a well lit, student friendly environment. I feel strongly about good ideas being the solution to all our problems. My cafe would provide an environment conducive to thought.

The name -  The Bottomless Cup.