Life after demobilization: General Zir happily worked as a waitress, creative

chiaki ma
Courtesy of Chiaki Ma

  • Chiaki Ma is laid off from her marketing job, sparking a realization of what she wants.
  • Since then, she has exercised her creativity more, pursuing acting, freelancing, and waitressing.
  • While she’s still getting used to the change, she says she’s happier and more creative.

Chiaki Ma, 23, has worked a few marketing-related jobs since graduating from college in 2021. In her experience, the company’s work has been frequent.

“It will be different projects, but it will be the same thing every day,” she said, recalling one of her marketing jobs. “And I just remember working in my cabin, and it was kind of a sales office as well, and I just thought, Wow, I don’t want to be here for more than two years.”

That career path came to an abrupt end when she was laid off last November.

While she told Insider she was worried about money, Ma knew her layoff was an opportunity. “Maybe it’s time to leave this field entirely and pursue other opportunities that allow me to be creative because I’m a very creative person,” she told Insider.

As she described in a TikTok video talking about her experience quitting marketing, “As a naturally creative person, companies took over my soul.”

Ma is now a freelance content creator, has been a waitress since March, and pursues acting.

It has joined a wave of people leaving corporate or white-collar jobs after layoffs, as artificial intelligence threatens the future of the industry. A laid-off worker told Insider on Twitter that “in some ways, it was the wake-up call” she needed to get her side pressed into her full-time job. Other workers are simply more of the lifestyle that comes with corporate or office jobs.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that essential workers – the workers we need for the public to survive – may not be in a corporate building and may not be marketing coordinators,” Ma said in the TikTok video. “Besides the fact that something like a pandemic can dramatically change everyone’s life, so I’m not going to spend a single minute on a career path that I don’t even want to be in.”

Company life just means living a couple of days off the weekend

In one TikTok video, Ma recalled once at the office thinking, “Is this where I want to be 10 years from now? When I’m 33, will I still want to work in the same cubicle?”

In the end, I decided she didn’t — at least not now. Other workers or job seekers may feel the same way, especially young workers.

“There’s pressure mostly on college graduates and people in their early 20s to work a corporate job, and that pressure is mostly from people from previous generations who see corporate jobs as stable/successful,” Ma told Insider.

When I left corporate marketing, Ma started working as a freelance content creator. Living in Los Angeles, she has also been able to pursue acting while working as a waitress.

While she said her work-life balance was better than before, “I didn’t feel like I was really working or living.”

“There are times when I feel it’s kind of difficult in terms of finances and budget because I feel like I’m still moving into a schedule and a routine that I’m not quite used to,” she said. “But I will say I like it a little better because it seems like the work I produce is just mine.”

Her previous roles didn’t mean much time to do other things outside of work during the week. At the end of the week she said she was tired and added that she “basically lived my life for the weekends” where I was then able to “do what I really wanted”.

“I’m kind of bored with the routine,” she added. “I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere.”

While she may see a return to corporate positions as a backup plan, she “ideally” said she did not wish to return.

“It may sound cheesy, but sometimes you don’t know what opportunities can come if you don’t venture out and remain very comfortable with who you are in life or in your career,” she said. “And I’m not saying feeling good is a bad thing, but if you know there’s potential for you somewhere else and you’re okay with not pursuing it, it really limits your possibilities.”

She’s now doing work where she can be creative – and she’s happier. Until just two years ago, she told Insider, “I never would have thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now,” including taking exams.

“Take a leap of faith and don’t limit yourself,” she advised others.

Have you been laid off or resigned from a job at a company and would like to share your story? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

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