As we grow up, we’re taught to think a certain way – both explicitly and implicitly. It’s so hard to further the concept of individual thought when we are bombarded with quite the opposite every corner we turn. Join the masses, do what you’re told, we are all in the struggle together. Except, we don’t have to be.
Implicitly though, the message is all around us. It’s in every billboard advertisement, it’s in every movie, it’s in music videos, general chit chat. It’s in the girl and guy laughing in the gym after work, and the new Porsche ad showing a guy finishing up in the office. It’s on Coca Cola labels, educational handbooks and all over Tinder. Follow the rules, sell your time, work ridiculous hours and hopefully there’s a slim chance over a series of years you will rise to the top of the pile. Naturally the system fails to mention the shape of this pile, the pyramid doesn’t let us all succeed, the masses have to stay at the bottom to support the top. Still, grind it out, 30 more years, you’ll get there eventually…. Hmmm.
“Don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree”
Explicitly it’s there too. Our parents tell us to do our homework (just as they were told to do theirs), toe-the-line, blindly trust our teachers. Our teachers tell us to come to school on time, study hard even in subjects that we neither like nor excel in, keep your mouths shut, only ask questions when summoned, and even then make sure the questions are only questioning the topic at hand, nothing deeper. Our university lecturers give us reading lists, coursework with certain criteria to uphold, we have to regurgitate prose from text books that often the lecturers themselves wrote, that’s just great, thanks. Finally we get to what we have so carelessly named ‘the real world’, and it gets even worse from here.
You’ve managed to at least pretend to be normal, average, to fit in, for 25 years or so by now. You’re doing so well. We even have graduation parties to celebrate just how normal you are, look around you, thousands of other people celebrating the same thing. $100k dollars of valuable education. You can’t really remember what you learned? Or worse, you can remember it but you realise you can’t really apply it in the real world? Sssssh, perfect your Curiculum Vitae. That’s what matters today. Now, subscribe to a career for the next 45 years, suffer with a mortgage for the vast majority of that time, keep up with the Jones’ next door, buy a suit that you hate. When you work even longer hours, and get paid a little more, you can look forward to buying a suit you hate a little less. See? There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
If you’re generation Y, like me, perhaps you’ll have a quarter-life crisis. Well done, seriously. The worst thing to be done here though is to quit your job, freak out, jump industries/careers and repeat the same mistakes all over again, yet that’s what most people seem to do.
And here we have it. This is all acceptable to society. This bumbling path of unfulfilled dreams and external, non-consequential stresses about deadlines and projects that you really couldn’t care less about. Yet this is seen the sane choice. The choice people pat you on the back for. The choice that fuels those tacky ‘CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PROMOTION’ Hallmark cards. The choice that your parents made, your siblings have made, your friends are making. We all suffer together, it’s just how it’s done. Except, it doesn’t have to be. Not in 2016, not in the modern world.
You work for a company for 40 years hoping that one day you’ll earn $250k+ and be financially free. That financial freedom cost you most of your life’s freetime, more stress than you could imagine AND even worse, you probably won’t even reach that point. There are only so many $250k positions in each company, and remember the shape of the pyramid from above? Yup, most of us fill the bottom half of it.
Tell someone that you’re in your 20s/30s/40s, and you’ve decided you don’t want a life like that, you want more free time, you wanna set your own hours, you wanna create something beautiful, inspire and educate. You wanna fast track the journey to $250k+, and you don’t want to rely on someone else to hand you the ‘opportunity’. Tell something THIS, and they’ll tell you you’re crazy! Baffling.
I’ll never be able to join that ‘real world’. People take a gap year to postpone it, maybe they take a career-break to escape it for a while. If the desire to avoid the real world is so strong, perhaps it’s time to understand we never have to adopt it. That lifestyle doesn’t need to own us anymore. The internet is burgeoning. Import/export is booming. The world needs content creators. Working remotely is the future. Be free.
I see true sanity as choosing a life you truly want to live. One you don’t dream of escaping from. One where you smile more than you frown, where you have adventures and meet others who you inspire, and who inspire you. A life full of excitement and fulfilment. That’s sanity. The alternative? You can keep it. Hope to see you around somewhere, somewhere beautiful x
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