The world is changeable and life can be more than you realize
In May of 2007, I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and immediately set out on trying to find a job, start a 30-year long career, and do all the things that adults are supposed to do. I had been taught through my societal surroundings that this was the path to take if I wanted to be successful and get all of the things everyone else had like a big house, family, a new car every two years, or the ability to retire with a huge bank account at 65 years old.At the beginning, I thought I was reasonably successful at being an adult. I bought a new car, made sure to take on some debt to “build up credit,” and got a job working long hours for a military contractor that loved to push my limits and see how much they could compress project schedules before I’d break. I’d look down the hallways every day and see the old guys still at their desks at 8pm, putting in their time for the betterment of the company and thinking I should do the same if I wanted to earn my pay grade and follow the traditional 3-10-15-25 year track of promotions to seniority.
I started finding myself chasing strange things like awkward dinner parties with fake friendships or trying to find a nice girl to just “settle down” and start a family with, because that’s what everyone was supposed to do. I’d have lunch meetings with my bosses and hear about the big boat they just bought and how they got such a killer deal on financing for it. I’d open up Facebook to find weddings, babies, promotions, and specialized degrees, all of which whispered into my ear that I wasn’t doing something right or fast enough to keep up.
Internally, these things felt foreign to me, and I subconsciously fought them off like our bodies would a sickness. I was hesitant to trust the whispers, but eventually I succombed and woke up 2 years into a relationship that I had settled into and 4 years into a job that valued me about as much as I valued it. It was creature comfort and nothing more. The more I looked around me, the more I couldn’t understand why we had to live life this way. Why do we spend the healthiest and most productive years of our lives chasing smoke in the wind on a whim that this was the pursuit of happiness?
Why do people put so much pressure on other people to live within such a narrow idea of what life can be? Everyone has memories of adults repeating the brainwashings of “You’ll goto school, you’ll graduate, and if you work hard enough for long enough, you’ll be able to retire and enjoy life a bit once all of your children are grown up.” You go into work each day and eventually you turn into your surroundings. When you retire, they throw you a nice party and thank you for your dedication and within a week someone else has already replaced you. Life moves on, and it does so mercilessly, so be careful who and what you choose to knowingly and unknowingly idolize.
When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
Some may think that if I’m not following the traditional path, then I’m throwing it all away. Why haven’t I had children yet? Why didn’t I keep my guaranteed paycheck and 401k and just put in my time like everyone else? I could have had the most amazing retirement when I’m 65 and earned my free time.
The reality is, time is the truest form of wealth. We are all born equally rich in time and spend the rest of our lives chasing a superficial wealth and superficial activities for the sake of living within a society that feeds on it’s own delusions.
We are born into a society filled with scared people who tell you that something is impossible, just because they think it is, and children start to believe this to be true and they doubt themselves. Whether you think something is possible or think something is impossible, you’re right.
I quit my comfortable job and taught myself to be a software developer. I broke off the “settled” relationship and took a chance on a woman in a completely different country who turned out to be the love of my life. After being together for less than a few months, we dropped everything and traveled the world together through 14 different countries over a 6 month period. Everyone kept asking me, “How is that possible?” and “How can you afford to do that?” and I would ask them, “Who told you it was impossible?” and “How can you afford not to?”
Life is fleeting. We are but a single heartbeat in the lifespan of the universe. Our time is so limited and yet we dedicate so much of it to things that don’t matter one bit. We let adults tell us that something isn’t possible just because of their own fears. We let ourselves get fooled into thinking that life follows a very specific pattern and we shouldn’t listen to our own wants over the societal pressures.
We sacrifice our own happiness because we start to be afraid. “Maybe they are right? Maybe it’s not worth trying, and what happens if I fail?” Schools teach us that failure is something that is to be avoided at all costs. Failure has such a negative connotation to it and calling a person a “failure” is the ultimate insult. We’re so afraid of failure and not having money for retirement that we allow ourselves to chase money instead of happiness.
Why should we spend our lives working at made-up jobs? Why should we live with governments that think they should be allowed to control someone else’s small time on this tiny blue speck in a vast ocean of blackness? Why do we draw imaginary lines in the sand and divide up the world into those afforded certain circumstances and those who should have to go without?
Why can’t we be proud of our children for just being happy and teach them how to nurture that happiness rather than sacrificing it for the sake of fitting into a certain mold? Why do we let other people try to control us and tell us how we can spend the time we’ve been given?
Don’t listen to the whispers. Always seek to espouse the truth of what life can be, and question the intent of every person who attempts to tell you something isn’t possible. The world is malleable and anything is possible. Your life can be anything you want it to be, so don’t let them steal your creativity or cast doubt upon your dreams.
Title Photo Credit: flickr
This article was originally published on Medium
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