It all started when I saw these darling old ladies giving advice about “being more” rather than “doing more”. I don’t know what it is about old people…they always get me teary eyed.
Among the many things I googled during my short stint as an employee of the government was what it meant for my life to have meaning. I had thought all along that raking in a monthly salary and being in a traditional 8-4 job would make me happy..or at the very least would make me socially acceptable but the more I thought about it (and lived it), the more I could rationalize stepping in front of a moving bus – just kidding! (not kidding).
I wanted so desperately not to be shaken awake by alarms. Not to feel rushed to finish my morning coffee in fifteen minutes before I dart out the door. Not to be this constantly clock-watching, teeth grinding, nail biting, clothes ironing zombie – I mean zombies are cool and all…but they smell really bad #justsaying.
My “light bulb” moment occurred when I was sitting in traffic one day during my morning commute to work, and I looked over to the other side of the highway. Cars were zooming by, there were huge gaps in the traffic, literally the opposite of what I was experiencing.
The scene was set: That robotic Waze voice echoed in the background, “heavy traffic reported ahead” she said to me, like I wasn’t already nose deep in exhaust fumes. I gazed at the lady in the car next to me hurriedly dabbing lipstick on before the light change and I rolled my eyes at the taxi driver who was busy zigzagging in and out of lanes going no more than 8km/hr. The lights dim, I hear what seems to be angels from above, suddenly the heavens split and in the midst of the rapture that ensued I say to myself, “we must be fooling ourselves to think this is worth it” #truestory
My entire life was spent doing what made me happy. I laughed loudly, talked too much, asked “why” a lot, made friends, lost friends, did a double major B.Sc. in Geography and Psychology (which as hard as it is to imagine, turned out to be the ideal subject combination to not qualify me for any job).
And as I sat in traffic day after day for a few more weeks and I thought about when I was a child and I’d eat junk food (guilt free of course), and get ridiculously sweaty from playing tennis in the sun for hours, and I’d sit on the floor and walk around barefooted..and more than anything I wouldn’t be so hard on myself. I just think that at that moment I realized how stupid I felt that this is what my life had become..or rather that this was what was seen as an acceptable state of living. So I started asking “why” again.
Hannah, you have to attend this two hour meeting during which we will say a lot of words, but they will mean nothing – Why?
Hannah, now that you’re working, you’ll need to visit the bank from time to time, we’d like you to know that work is from 8am to 4pm however, the bank closes at 2pm -Why?
Hannah, we’re going to put you on a contract that’s not long enough to provide you with stability, but short enough so we don’t have to give you benefits like vacation, over-time pay, sick days – Why?
And a strange and mysterious thing happened. The more I asked why, the more I got annoyed and stressed out and pissed off that all of this was seen as completely normal. I can’t possibly be the only one who thinks this is utter madness…right? *cue some of that useful information I learned during my useless degree*
Psychological studies on conformity show exactly how dangerous it is to pattern our behavior after and take behavioral cues from those around us. Studies such as the smoke-filled room present a real-world dilemma to participants and show how easily persons go along with crowd behavior, ignoring their gut feeling and instead remain in potentially hazardous environments simply because everyone else around them is doing so. I guess sitting in my cubicle, amidst disorganization, blatant abuse of power, delinquency and persons doing nothing while convincing themselves that they’re doing everything felt similar to the room in that experiment, filling with smoke, fire alarms going off – yet everyone just sat there. I’ll be honest, I did too, for a while. I said to myself, this is normal right? *wheezes* Everyone speaks about it as if it’s normal *coughs* everyone is going about their lives like this is ideal *collapses*.
I mean, it looks, swims and quacks like a duck – that’s one f@!ked up duck.
It took all the guts I had to leave, to get up and walk out, to push past the zombie hoard that was closing in on me. And as I drove home in the same traffic I’d drove to work in, I felt weak. Like I
somehow wasn’t good enough, like I wasn’t strong enough to conform, or I wasn’t build to withstand the pressures of bureaucracy and endless, pointless red tape.
But I think now that I’m the opposite of that.
I think maybe I was too creative and hopeful and naively determined for “the system”. I’ve always been after all…why would I expect Adult-Grocery Buying-Loan Taking-Bill Paying-Hannah to be any different from Childlike-Sweaty-Free Spirited-Barefooted-Hannah.
I know this post was a bit interactive with all the link-clicking. This is the last one, have fun with it #wakeupyouneedtomakemoney.