The lack of self in the chaos of a typical nine-to-five

Should structure eclipse creativity?

I cannot be the only one who debates between having a traditional nine-to-five or rebelling against societal pressure and opting to freelance and work for myself. Before transferring to Concordia, I was at school in Toronto for the sole reason of opportunity: Toronto is where the Canadian divisions of the Big Five publishing companies are, and I saw it as “the land of opportunity” to get a start on my career. Clearly, I got disillusioned. 

My end goal is ultimately the same, but seeing how bleak people look as they’re leaving those grey office buildings makes the “Do I really want to do that?” debate rear its ugly head.

As someone who is more right-brained, the topic of how people can still maintain their creative side around a traditional nine-to-five job is of interest to me. Is a traditional, structured nine-to-five viable for a happy, creative and well-rounded lifestyle? 

Given the cycle of the same place, commute and people, the exhaustion that comes with repetition demotivates us to unleash our creative side. Routine monotony is something that characterizes the nine-to-five: tasks become repetitively predictable, which leads to a torpor of ideas and a decrease in creative thinking. In a typical nine-to-five in-person office setting, there is rarely any room to experiment with creative solutions.This lack of flexibility hinders the nurturing of our own unique creative potential during moments of inspiration. Without our creativity, we become a shell of ourselves. 

Work is a key component of our personal identity—it makes up the good majority of our time and is where we see our professional growth as well as our paychecks. With finances being most people’s Waterloo, it gets difficult to make your passion your profession, but it is our passions that make us who we are. Otherwise, we would all be slightly altered versions of the same person. 

Because of this push to earn to survive, our passions and the component of our identities they create often get disregarded and viewed as “less important” because they don’t contribute to our job. Nonetheless, it’s essential to explore avenues unrelated to work in order to be a well-rounded person. Think about it—someone that can only talk about their job and whose personality is solely their profession is far less interesting to interact with than someone who has passions they can be excited about. Your personal identity needs to be cultivated through your passions. 

Of course, a nine-to-five does not always offer time to pursue your creative passions—jobs in and of themselves are demanding, and by the time the work day is done, you might not have the energy to tune into your creativity. So much of the day turns to be in the interest of the company you work for, and not for yourself, which is unfulfilling to say the least. Creativity becomes lost when there is no space for it. 

I’m not speaking out of assumption as I’m writing this. While everything stated so far applies to an in-person job, it does not necessarily apply to a hybrid or remote position, and I was lucky enough to work a remote nine-to-five position last year. While I had a schedule to keep, the remote option gave me the chance to both work on personal projects when I wanted a break from work and to be a bit more creative with company projects because I had cultivated a motivating environment. 

I am of the mind that either a remote or a hybrid role is opportune for creativity, mostly because of the lack of repetition I touched on earlier. You have the option to create your own working environment, you can step away from your work, and it also gives a certain flexibility that a rigidly scheduled in-person nine-to-five may lack, and a job that offers a hybrid or partially remote option is something that I have looked into. Alternatively, I might do a one-eighty and work for myself—in an age of technology, there are enough resources and opportunities out there to apply creativity and passion and make a career out of it.  

Our whole lives, we’re told to create our own identity, but it is tough to do so when we’re expected to ditch our cultivated and unique selves in favour of a job that might not even bring us personal satisfaction. Constantly keeping busy does not mean productivity ensues. You could complete meaningless tasks but never actually accomplish anything.

The responsibility, networking, and steady paycheck of a nine-to-five are great, but if it doesn’t allow you to develop your own creativity and see a cultivated and personally accomplished version of yourself, then is it worth doing something you aren’t really passionate about? Why work for someone else’s dream when you can work for your own?

Arts Theatre

The radical importance of gigues in Quebecois culture

Pas Perdus | Documentaires Scéniques presented this year at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde

The Théâtre du Nouveau Monde presented Pas Perdus from Feb. 24 to a crowded room filled with an excited public. 

The design and direction of the play was helmed by Émile Proulx-Cloutier and written by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, who also acted as a silent narrator. 

The performance was prefaced with a short reading of the Ukrainian play A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War to commemorate the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Theatres across Montreal read excerpts to signify their solidarity with Ukrainians. The crowd was extremely moved. 

The play centers around eight characters, who seem to at first live categorically different lives, but are in fact united by their passion for dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigue orients their existence. 

The Quebecois gigue was inspired by Irish stepdancing upon their immigration to Canada in the late 19th century. It is a lively dance that consists of steps, the last one being more emphasized.

It is danced alone or in front of an audience, usually in a room, each dancer revealing their steps. Most Quebec gigues dances are on a two by four tempo, while some places like Outaouais dance on three by four tempo. Gigue is a staple of Quebecois culture. 

Pas Perdus was conducted in a unique fashion, as characters did not speak, while a voiceover resonated between them, composed of excerpts from a podcast series Barbeau-Lavalette had created, centering the voices of the dancers. 

The actors were merely dialoguing through the movement of their bodies. This silence plays a symbolic role in the demonstration of dance as a language, and of spoken words as only parallel to the meaning of dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigues orients their existence. 

Each character is introduced separately, completing their daily tasks while the voiceover explains their lives. The first character, Réal, is from a rural town and spends his time knotting a pair of snowshoes and explains how dancing is a part of who he is, while others like Odile are presented in the workspace as the voiceover explains their life path, and what brought them to dance. 

This play questions the meaning gigue has in Quebecois culture, the shame that surrounds the dance, and the risk of forgetting it as time passes. 

The play layers on the tone of humour despite difficult times.

Barbeau-Lavalette discusses themes of shame around Quebecois culture, and how it directly produces erasure. One character talks about “collecting steps,” as she meets people within the gigues community, learns their unique steps, and is thus able to carry them with her. This prevents the steps from being erased, even when the person dancing gigue dies. 

Pas Perdus is a demonstration of the adaptation of Quebec culture to modern times, noting the importance of not constraining our history to the past. Although there are fewer people dancing gigue, culture cannot be forgotten. This play is an homage to preserving culture and steering it away from erasure. 


A night with Taylor Janzen, Quinn Christopherson, and Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus and her tour company took on L’Astral this past Monday

On Sept. 16, Lucy Dacus and her tour company drew quite a crowd at L’Astral. This was all to be expected having run off the momentum of her critically-acclaimed 2018 sophomore album Historian, and joined by stellar openers Quinn Christopherson and Taylor Janzen. It made sense that dozens showed up to the venue ready for a night of cold beer, warm synths, and some soft indie-alternative.

Winnipeg-native Janzen began the night at 8 p.m. with a short but sweet piano performance, singing the sad, reflective songs she has become known for across Canada and beyond. After a brief intermission half an hour later, Christopherson took the stage with friend Nick Carpenter by his side on keyboards and guitar.

Being the winners of the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest, it immediately made sense why NPR described Christopherson and Carpenter as “performers loaded with unfettered confidence,” as they sang their emotionally-candid ballads about vulnerability and the struggles of self-acceptance. However, the sadness in their music felt nonexistent when the duo stopped strumming between songs, taking a few seconds to crack jokes with the audience.

“This next song is untitled,” Christopherson said to the crowd midway through his set. “So if anybody has name ideas, feel free to add me on MSN.” The crowd burst out laughing. Carpenter chuckled too, looking over at his friend.

As the headliner and final act of the night, Lucy Dacus and bandmates started off at 9:30 p.m., performing hits from Historian along with recent singles, such as her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.” Despite an oft-present lyrical theme of facing uncertainty, Dacus had full crowd control throughout her set, transitioning from ambient, meditative songs about death and heartbreak, to getting everyone jumping with the more upbeat rock-inspired songs.

Passion could be felt both inside and outside the performance; when Dacus was not playing a song, she was providing a short backstory for the following one.

Lucy Dacus sings and plays guitar in front of an awestruck crowd. Photo by Spencer Nafekh

“This next song I wrote for my mom,” she said before playing “My Mother & I,” a single released in April. “It still makes me nervous to perform it sometimes. But, preemptively, she [my mom] likes it,” Dacus joked.

By the end of the night, Dacus appeared fully at home in Montreal.

“I’m not usually one for encores and happen to think they’re kind of corny,” she said, returning to the mic. “But I really feel comfortable here right now, so why not?” Dacus went on to play “Historians,” the languid final track off her 2018 album, which turned out to be the perfect slow song to wrap up the night on a peaceful note.

All in all, L’Astral had a Monday evening filled with passionate artists doing what they love and know best. The performances felt refreshingly honest. Taylor Janzen, Quinn Christopherson, and Lucy Dacus provided voracious listeners their indie-fix and gave everybody in the crowd a night to remember.


Feature photo by Spencer Nafekh


Sounds from the shadows: Sasan’s story

Iranian Master’s student finds serenity in electronic and experimental music, regardless of what his home has to say

“They think Iran is just a desert with no culture, no music. They think it’s just politics, but it’s not,” said DSM.

As DSM – a 25-year old Master’s student in Building Engineering – explored Concordia’s SGW campus this past winter, shortly after arriving in Montreal from his home country of Iran, he stumbled across a copy of The Concordian on a stand in the school. After flipping through to the paper’s music section, he decided to reach out to its editor in an attempt to share his story.

“I thought, let’s try, send an email and see what happens,” said DSM. “I was also afraid because I thought you might not answer, or that you wouldn’t care to speak to me.”

Now we’re here.

See, education in Iran is often regarded as the ideal route, with other activities seen as extracurricular, and only that. “When I was in Iran I told myself that I was nothing,” said DSM. “I didn’t have good marks, and they think people who make music are just losers.”

For creators of electronic music, that principle reigns true, with an even deeper sentiment of taboo. “Many people believe that [western music] brings you to hell, and others think it encourages you to do bad things,” he said. “So we have legal music and illegal music.”

DSM, an avid techno-listener and experimental producer, began creating music in his house in Iran. He was inspired by a video clip he saw of superstar DJ/producer Tiesto commanding a crowd at a major festival, demonstrating music’s deep ability to bring all kinds of people together.

“It was so amazing for me to see that,” said DSM.

He first began dabbling in music by creating mash-ups, or “mixes,” for him and his friends on their long bus ride home from school. Though he later shifted towards producing his own songs, using the software Ableton Live. It’s now been four years since DSM has been seriously working on his craft, and the hard work is paying off.

DSM has been featured in Visions of Darkness, a compilation album of contemporary music by Iranian musicians, and is set to release multiple tracks through Montreal-based record label and creative agency, Husa Sounds. He also released an EP last December, titled Abstracted.

While his passion has continued to blossom, DSM chooses to keep his musical identity a subtle part of his life.  His parents are aware of it and are supportive of his musical endeavours so long as he stays in school and completes his Master’s.

“I usually play music at parties and gatherings, but also sometimes in my father’s car with my family,” he said. “We would listen to popular music in Iran, or old music that my father or mother love. I tried playing some mellow, deep house for them, not the hard stuff, and they liked it too. Sometimes I’d try to sneak in my own songs and if they didn’t say ‘next song’ I would tell them it was mine.”

For DSM, music is more than just a hobby or even a passion – it’s a form of therapy.

“I just wanted to release my feelings – it’s my way to calm down,” he said. “If I have too many things on my mind, music is the way to release my stress, to forget any bad things in my life. It’s like my Advil. If the music is so good you can get high on that, you don’t need weed or alcohol.”

Back in Iran, DSM was not able to peacefully enjoy electronic music as a result of the government’s strict rules and regulations surrounding public musical performances.

Musical performers are required to obtain a government license in order to perform publicly, whether it be at an art gallery or musical event. This leaves room for subjective decisions, which thereby controls the music scene in the country. However, a police officer’s bad day could very well turn into deeper troubles for a performing artist, despite whether or not they hold a license.

As a result of this musical censorship, many Iranians travel to remote locations throughout the nation, often deserts, where they can enjoy electronic music at any volume, dancing and partying through the night up to the morning. This added risk actually has its benefits, according to DSM. “If you want to have fun there you have to stress about the police. Even alcohol is illegal,” said DSM. “But if it’s harder, sometimes it really feels better.”

With one and a half years remaining for his Master’s, DSM hopes to maintain his 4.0 CGPA – though he continues to raise the bar when it comes to his music as well.

“I really hope that big DJs will play my songs at clubs or shows,” said DSM. “I hope that people are dancing and feeling my music. I really want people to feel it, that’s my goal.

Student Life

Paving a career path

Niloofar Moradi speaks about fueling her ambition with passion

“For all aspiring engineers, find and follow your passion, work hard, work smart, get involved, feed your soul through volunteer work, and remember to carry the torch for the next generation,” said Noolifar Moradi, a Concordia University alumna and recipient of the 2018 Concordia Young Alumni Award.

The award is given to an alumni who has graduated in the last 15 years and continues to be involved in the Concordia community.

Moradi has always been an exemplary student. In 2010, she completed her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Concordia, and in 2015, gained a master’s in applied sciences at the École de technologie supérieure.

Her passion and commitment to aerospace engineering and her contribution to its community also led Moradi to win the Elsie MacGill Engineering Award for 2018.

Each year, eight women across Canada are nominated by the Northern Lights Aero Foundation (NLAF) for the Elsie MacGill Awards. Established in 2009, the NLAF honours outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to their field and continue to lay the groundwork and encourage other women to excel in the industry. Nominees are chosen based on their determination, perseverance, enthusiasm and personal accomplishments in aviation or aerospace engineering, as well as their ability to inspire others.

Moradi started as a turbo dynamics engineer and then shifted her focus to turbine mechanical design. She began her professional career at Rolls Royce Energy, but was still drawn to aerospace and aviation. When Moradi was offered a position at Pratt & Whitney, a top player in the aircraft engine manufacturing world, she accepted the challenge. Ever since then, Moradi has devoted her career to turbine aerodynamics and turbine design.

Despite having a lot on her plate at work, Moradi always makes time to give back to the university. “I do simple volunteering activities at Concordia,” she said.

When the university hosts its annual open house, it calls upon a group of alumni to spend a day talking to possible future students about what it’s like to study at Concordia. Moradi hasn’t missed the event for the past five or six years.“I find it so rewarding to be able to explain to people about my journey,” she said.

Moradi also attends numerous seminars and speaks to first-year students about the current job market, her experiences and what she’s taken away from that. “What I love about Concordia is that they made such a huge effort in preparing the students for the real world, by giving them talks, courses on software packages, it’s basically hands-on engineering,” she said. Moradi hopes to inspire students and push them to set goals for themselves.

“I do not see myself doing anything else on a daily basis,” says Moradi. “I truly believe that if you do what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like a job, it will feel like following your passion.”

Feature image courtesy of Concordia University.


The millennial pursuit of monetizing passion

One student’s realization that passions are valuable whether they bring you success or not

An interest in yoga has transformed into the pursuit of becoming a fitness model. A knack for style has evolved into the goal of owning your own fashion label. A passion for music has morphed into a dream of becoming a world-renowned rapper.

Among other defining characteristics, millennials’ willingness to pursue their dreams sets them apart from generations past. Unlike our parents, who weren’t necessarily encouraged to envision futures beyond desk jobs, millennials live in a world constantly inspiring us to nurture our passions and interests.

To be in our 20s today is to live in a time of endless possibility—a time when social media can become your ticket to superstardom, like it did for Justin Bieber; a time when your own voice can propel you past homelessness and poverty, as was the case for The Weeknd.

Despite a generation of baby boomers who tend to label us as lazy and entitled, our reverence for creativity makes us one of the most ambitious generations this world has ever seen. We believe there is nothing hard work and perseverance can’t achieve, and we are unapologetic and fearless in the pursuit of our dreams.

As a millennial myself, I am an avid believer in unearthing individual talents and interests. Art, dance, cuisine, writing—whatever it is, I encourage you to discover the joy and fulfillment that comes with asserting yourself as a unique individual.

I am, however, troubled by the sense that a materialistic mentality has pervaded my generation. What started as a goal in the name of passion has been overtaken by a thirst for money and fame. Our passions matter as much as the attention they receive. This is particularly evident through our changed relationship with social media, where our posts and popularity are as valuable as the likes and followers they generate. The song you post to YouTube isn’t impressive because you made the beat yourself—it’s impressive because of its view count. It doesn’t matter that I took the time to write this article—what matters is that you took the time to share it on Facebook.

In the pursuit of careers that will satisfy our intrinsic interests, millennials disregard passion for passion’s sake—doing something simply because you love it, with no ulterior motive like making money or getting noticed. Our sense of purpose becomes tethered to popularity, and we wait for the day when we will finally be recognized as the superstars we really are. In the meantime, we disregard things that make “everyday” jobs appealing, and overlook those who work nine-to-five jobs instead of pursuing a career they’re passionate about. Stable hours, benefits and a reliable salary aren’t good enough for the go-getting millennial, who scoffs at the idea of working in a cubicle.

But just because someone else hasn’t made a career out of their passion doesn’t mean they’re living a mediocre existence. They have worked just as hard to get to where they are. And they too are individuals with talents, interests and passions. Conversely, just because someone hustles in a field that they love, doesn’t mean they’re ever going to find success.

For those of you who think I’m saying these things because I don’t have any dreams, you are wrong. I hold a desire in my heart which many have called a pipe dream. I no longer measure the value of my passion based on whether or not I am able to turn it into a career because I made the disheartening discovery that, sometimes, hard work doesn’t actually pay off.

Indeed, contrary to what we’ve been told our whole lives, working towards your passion is often not enough. The difference between being good at something and getting paid to do it depends on a variety of factors beyond your control, like connections, timing and luck.

In a world that constantly measures you in likes, followers and cash, I urge you to remember that the value of your passion goes far beyond a dollar sign. You do not need recognition from others in order to enjoy or be good at something. Whether you are able to turn your passion into a career is irrelevant. The beauty of your passion is that it is yours, and that is valuable beyond measure.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Music Quickspins

Kid Cudi – Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’

Kid Cudi – Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ (Republic Records, 2016)

Kid Cudi’s latest album, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’, is better than Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven which was his painfully awful attempt at punk rock. While this new album is better, that’s not saying much. If you’re a fan of someone moaning for an hour and a half, I’d highly recommend this album. However, if you’re looking for some substance, you might want to look somewhere else. In terms of sound, the album takes on the new hip-hop trend of atmospheric and moody beats. These soundscapes sound good at first but are repeated and looped throughout almost every song and they get old quick. It’s hard to differentiate the songs on this album as Kid Cudi offers no change in his cadence. It’s as if Cudi just went in the booth, hummed the same melody for a few hours and then left.

Trial Track: “Frequency”


Exit mobile version