Does “Paying Your Dues” Equal Years of Cubicle Imprisonment?


By now you are starting to doubt it’s validity. And you are seeing many people, including your peers, openly mocking it on the web, in coffee shops, and even in the checkout line. It’s become a topic of disdain in certain circles, and one of dismay in others.

“Get good grades. Good to a good school. Send out a resume. Land a good job. Keep it.”

For many of us, this has been the party line since birth. It’s the one you will continue you hear every time you press the “send” button on Monster.com and, and it’s the one that you are starting to think is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There is this idea that you have to spend years toiling away at the bottom of the proverbial career ladder, or rotting away in a cubicle doing someone else’ dirty work (If you can even get inside the cube, in the first place) before you can move on to bigger and better things, more freedom, and perks.

It’s total crap.

Why do you have to wait until you are middle-aged to create an awesome (not decent) life for yourself?

Now, I don’t believe anyone can rise to the top of their field without experience, or without knowing something about what you do. I’m not saying that at all. But do I believe you have to trudge through muck for years just to “pay your dues” for the sake of paying your dues?

Hells to the no-no.

Look at the guy who has changed how we communicate, Mark Zuckerberg  the CEO of Facebook. Beyond wearing hoodies to work (did you see his Person of the year Profile in TIME magazine? He was totally rocking a hoodie and Converses),  Mark is slick ruling the world. And he’s 26.  What would his life be like right now if he had told himself to wait until he was 35+ to act on his dream?

He would probably be working for some corporation. Choking on the company kool-aid, making plans in his head about when he would start REALLY living. And we’d all still think MySpace is the ish.

If you are like me, you value personal freedom. And you are starting to realize that working hard and having no life, do not have to be one-and-the-same.  And if anyone tells you otherwise, I dare you to challenge them.

The most interesting (and scary) thing about Gen Y is that we are on the verge of a.) creating a revolution, or b.) submitting to total failure.  Most of us are running around confused because things are not going according to plan.  The rest of us have gotten it. We know we need a new plan, but we have no idea where to start.

My idea? Take a deep breath, and then take one step forward towards something. Keep moving in  a new direction.  You may have to figure it out on your way. But keep it moving! What are you dying to create?  Do you have an idea for something totally innovative? What’s stopping you?

Personal entrepreneurship can be as small or as grandiose as you envision it to be.  Perhaps, you want to gain some skills or contacts  from your day job before you try striking out on your own, or maybe your calling is to do such great work for an organization that you care about, that they have no other choice but to listen to you when you say to them, “Hey, I want to work from home for two days each week.”

It’s all about how it fits into your life.  The most important lesson of personal entrepreneurship is realizing that your time belongs to YOU, and doing what it takes to stand up for that.

Now, you go forth and be fabulous dammit. And don’t forget to share your thoughts!

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  1. #1 by Peter McDermott on January 26, 2011 - 3:56 pm

    To verify how true this is…I’m 25 years old and already have an office of my own in a complex full of cublicles. If you work hard and most importantly add value, your success cannot be ignored.

    • #2 by amberinnyc on January 26, 2011 - 5:26 pm

      Totally agree. I really think our Generation, more than any other, really understands the concept of adding value. These days we are all looking to add value. I hope to do that here with the things I write.

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