"'Adulthood': Return to Sender" by contributor
When I was little, my imagination was so big that most days it ran away from me. Having a wonderful childhood afforded me the privilege to spend quite a bit of my free time daydreaming about what my life would be like when I was just a bit older. Many moments of what I now recognize to be childhood bliss were wasted on cooking up fantasies for my much older, sophisticated, adult life. As a teenager, I imagined 22-year-old me to be this worldly being, sure of her direction in the world who was taking all of the necessary strides in order to meet her goals. Now that I’m here though, working your average 8AM-5PM job, most of my time is spent dreaming about ways to escape.
Of course I must recognize my own privilege. I am a college educated, middle class, woman who in this trying economy was lucky enough to secure a well paying job with great benefits only a couple months after graduation. The starting salary for this position is above average for the field, my coworkers are on the sane side, and we are generally a very nice and friendly office. There are perks to my position, such as two weeks where I get to travel to certain parts of the country and for several months out of the year I had the luxury to work from the comfort of my own living room most days out of the week. That being said, all of those things don’t make my frustrations any less real. I guess it’s just a shock to the system, because I don’t remember anyone blatantly spelling out for me that jobs (at least the ones that you aren’t passionate about) are a kind of nightmare that make your miserable. I knew from day one that this wasn’t the job for me. I won’t get to heavy into details as to why, but I’ll just say that I never planned to stick around for longer than one year. I’m not working in a field that I’m truly interested in, and the only thing the job really provides me with is financial security. Obviously this is nothing to sneeze at, but since I am just one human being and don’t have a family or other financial burdens, there are plenty of jobs that I could take that would meet my financial needs i.e. Being a Starbucks barista.
When I try to explain my feelings to others they often respond, “Is it really that bad?” Of course this is typically asked by people who are not recent grads and either haven’t purchased their ticket for the struggle bus that is a full-time job yet, or have been riding it so long that they have learned to adapt. Well, to answer the question, other than the fact that I believe that all the best parts of me are slowly dying, no it’s not that bad. “It’s just a chunk of your day,” they counter “it’s not really your life.” Umm I’m pretty sure a third of my day five days a week doing something that is completely uninteresting to me that is not bringing me closer to the future that I want for myself adds up to a pretty fucking significant amount of life.
The thing is, I don’t think any of us are made to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day. Human beings like to be active and on the go. I feel stifled and restricted at work when I am bound to my shared office for such a large chunk of time. I can’t equate the sensation to anything but feeling trapped. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, we are trained to obediently sit at a desk for hours and hours a day from the ripe age of five, but that doesn’t make it okay. Why should we have to be told when to eat, when we can take a break, what time it’s appropriate to talk and when it’s okay to take a recess. It’s fucking bullshit that if you look at school, the typical workplace, and even they way some prisons are structured you will find some staggering similarities. I, for one, don’t want any part of this structure anymore. I don’t want to wake up and be 50 (if I’m lucky) to find out I didn’t pursue any of dreams.
Now again, I recognize that my thoughts come from a place of privilege and not everyone is afforded the luxury of these thoughts and some might even consider them delusions of grandeur. But, the fact of the matter is that my distinct privileges do provide me with some choices so given the opportunity, I am going to explore those avenues that cause me the least amount of personal pain. I can’t settle for just any old thing, and I’ve noticed other millennials who are refusing to settle as well. We’re just not willing to stay at our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 8th job for 40+ years if we are unhappy simply because that’s how things have worked in the past. Furthermore, I don’t think we should. So many societal advantages and technological advances have come from people going against the norm, doing things nobody dared to do. Trusting their guts and following their dreams. Because it’s true, what they say “If you don’t build your own dream, someone else will hire you to help build theirs.” And while it’s true that I might not know what my dreams are yet (and really why should I at 22) I know damn well what they aren’t, and right now that’s enough for me.
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