Before anything, it is not America-bashing. It is what ultimately runs America, the corporations that give us glass ceilings towards our American Dream. If you love the job you are in, stay in it. This is for people who feel stuck and regret they did not follow their guts.
Years ago I wanted the attention, the money, and all the gifts that came with big success. It’s hardly true if I said I did not want that now, but things have changed a bit in my older age. I re-evaluated what THE AMERICAN DREAM means to me. It means following your heart, knowing you may have a smaller house than friends and family in exchange for fulfillment. It means waking up happy and not saying to yourself, “Crap, it’s ONLY Tuesday”. It means helping my friend go car shopping all day because I can. That’s what is important to me.
These thoughts crawled through my head because my cousin just graduated from UCLA. He’s a great guy, talented, charming, and gifted. Instead of enjoying the earned moments, he was plagued with questions like “So what’s next?” and “Just go to Law School and forget about this Hollywood dream”. Instead of a rising spirit, my cousin had a lowered state of worth. Were they right? Is he wasting his life? Should he place himself under an expiration date? 5 years and if not successful, then he goes to law school? Where do you draw the line? When do you quit, when do you hold on a little longer and when do you say “F*ck it, f*ck them, and f*ck being scared”.
So I shared something with him that I had recently thought about. I told him how America is a production machine and it pushes you harder and harder to live. It gives you the false promise of hope with menial raises but those cannot compete with inflation. It etches a thought deep in our souls that says, “If I can just stay one hour later, one more hour of over time, one more Saturday in the office then I just might get….”. All the while we bake under the fluorescent lights and peak over the cubicle walls at others. We look forward to our 15 minute breaks, stealing a few staples from work, and Friday!
I told him that he can follow THEIR dreams and attend law school. He can wake up in a big house, big bed, and count the days of the week. He can get in a nice car and hate the drive to work, while hating more the drive back home. You can limit yourself to the food establishments around your job and the 9-6 corp lifestyle. For those that settled, America developed key phrases. You can go on vacations to get back to normal or good, or just feel even. Or you can go on trips to get ahead and learn more and take the trips because you value growth, and needing a vacation isn’t an issue.
I feel vacations are in large for people who hate their jobs. We all have stressful points, but in general those that follow their dreams have great moments of gratitude.
We have a case of the Mondays. Wednesday is hump-day because now it’s a countdown to freedom. Thursday is the new Friday, as clubs/bars schedules reflect the new attitude and finally our Fridays turn into Casual-Fridays. This is an attempt to drag us into work one more day, one more day of hard work, one more day before the weekend. Happy hours were invented to ease the pain of work, let others catch up and complain about work, and let the over-achievers use another opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder. It’s not intentionally done, and I don’t think meetings were conducted to come up with these themes and names. It just happened like settling just happens to people. You just settle. Then you wake up one day, look in the mirror and your fantasy bubble pops. You wonder what happened to you. You wonder when you gave up. When did you lose that spark? When did life become so passionless, so mundane, so uneventful?
I told him that if he loves what he does, it won’t seem like work. If you love what you do, you won’t wake up counting the days of the week. If you did not settle, you can handle a 3 bedroom even though others have the 5 bedroom homes. I’m not saying those with more are less happy, I’m saying many have settled and fallen into the 9-6 schedule if that wasn’t the original plan. We have many that LOVE their jobs and it’s not about them. It’s about the majority of us that settle after a college graduation. We take jobs to pay off a few bills and figure out what we want to do. Before you know it, a promotion comes, you feel better about yourself and that BIG PLAN to be your own boss or follow your dreams gets pushed back a tiny bit more. Little by little, it is now a faded memory and less of a reality. The bigger reality is the mortgage, the bigger car payment, the lifestyle you need to keep up.
All I’m saying is, you can be happy in a smaller home. You should not have to rely on TGIF themes to get you through the week or the hopes of slipping on your jeans on Friday just to get through the week. Your Fridays should feel like Tuesdays and Tuesdays no different than a Sunday. You should be happy to work at 3AM not because you have to but because your work isn’t work, it is your passion. That’s rich. You may strike gold and be a millionaire or you might make your 35K a year doing what you love, but at the end of the day…. is it worth your happiness?
Follow your heart. That path will always lead you to truth and happiness. It will have its hardships and challenges. It will make you question yourself but you will be a better version of yourself.