One Less Rat….

I am faced with a conflicting duality that due to my surroundings has me questioning whether I belong where I do.

Finding your purpose in life is supposed to be a liberating feeling right? What happens when you realize your expectations were unrealistic from the goals that were put in your head whether it be from parents, friends, or by your own doing. Sure I have found a way of living that I am most comfortable and agree with. At the same time it is hard for me to fully embrace this because it is below what I thought my sights were set on.

It is very easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle that comes from living in southern California. There is a clear mentality of people who want the American dream. They work to live, submerge themselves in stress, and think that one day they’re going to one day give it all up and become a completely different person when they decide to no longer work. People can be difficult to change, and to say that you will behave one way for a long period of time then suddenly live this life of leisure and worriless living seems silly to me.

Lets take things a step back from that. Lets say you’re still in the education process leading up to the degree you need for the career you want. There are some tell-tale signs that I see others clearly ignore and neglect that should be telling them to reconsider their options. If someone is struggling to finish their undergraduate studies, who’s to say that you will be able to hold you own when it comes time to apply for graduate & PhD programs. I’m not saying everyone should give up what they’re doing because there are a few bumps in the road. I’m simply saying to be aware of your situation and the grand scheme of things so you don’t wake up one day and ask yourself how did I end up in this cubicle, doing something that took so much of my life away with stress and sleep deprivation and I hate.

Ever since I joined the working class I have been able to (eventually) balance my finances and keep my head above water financially. I made it through high school with exceptional grades, and am one or two semesters away from obtaining a generic science-related degree from the local community college. I’ve never been in a hurry to obtain my career and obtain a large salary. When it comes to competition in the workplace, I drift to the more passive side of things. I never wanted to make a lot of money, just enough. Never found a job that genuinely spoke to me; and in putting all of these things together I am coming to the realization that I no longer wish to take part in the rat race of life.

This is becoming increasing difficult to accept for two reasons. One is because I was raised to want that American dream of work work work until I turn over and die. After being told the same thing all throughout school and even afterwards, it is hard to get that idea out of my head even though I am realizing that this pursuit to happiness is not for me. Figuratively, I do not like what I see in the mirror. Part of me sees a big failure while the other part sees an inner self that further completes my puzzling life. The other reason is because I see myself turning into my parents, another characteristic I avoided to become all my life & requires some further explanation.

Ever since I got my first job, I’ve looked down on my parents for settling into the lives they have now. I still find myself feeling bitter towards my dad for requiring me to financially pick up the slack for the decisions he has made in life. If he knew the type of person he was (one that wanted a family and multiple outdoor recreational luxuries) then he should find a way to support his lifestyle. A way that is more self reliant than having children and expecting them to help him out with what he wants to do and to help keep the roof over everyone’s head as a collective good. I consider this form of reliance to be an unhealthy one. That being said, the cards are already in place and there is nothing I can do about it now but sit and feel sorry for myself (and the family I live with.)

My mom surprised me the other day when she told me she would be no longer going back to school to pursue her career in medical billing and coding. To hear the parent who taught you to never give up and to strive for the best say they are going against their own lifelong advice is hard not to get choked up on. I had nothing to say to her, in fear that my emotions would get the best of me, and I would slide back into this depressed state of deception and lonliness. There have been a lot of double standards in my life than I care to share. The biggest one pertaining to educational goals. Watching a high school dropout tell his kids that they need to graduate high school, get a prestigious degree, and a well paying job seems silly to me and should be taken with a figurative grain of salt. I told my mom that if her kids decided to make the same choice as her, she can’t get upset at them since that would be implementing another huge double standard I will not let her live down. I try to take a lighter, humoristic approach when speaking to my dad (since he doesn’t take criticism well being raised by women and never having the father figure of his own to set him straight and question what he does) and he seems in denial of the entire operation.

These are the issues I am torn about. I am upset with my parents for having settled into their own niches, and here I am settling. I was also taught by these same parents to strive for the best possible option out there (a double standard in comparison to their lives) and while a part of me is glad to have discovered this new side of me that is more capable of happiness, the other side of me clings to these feelings and ideals I was raised by.

I don’t like to think that I am giving up. More So I’ve just found where my place is in this world. It’s not settling, it’s just finally figuring out what you want to do. I want to exist in this world while avoid heavily stressful situations that have unrealistic and irrational outcomes. Maybe me disliking my parents isn’t as simple as for having settled. Maybe it’s because they chose to bring other people into this world and having to live a life of someone who’s lifestyle is not balanced out by their career choice. Maybe I’m upset at them for not preparing themselves enough for the lives they live.

This is a big reason as to why I do not want children of my own. I know that I would have to get a fancy degree and a fancy job if I want to financially support those other than myself (children.) So for me to one day have kids and continue to live the lifestyle I live would be making the exact same choice my parents made. A choice I won’t be able to live with. I have a good idea of the lifestyle I wish to live and know how to cater my finances to live within my means. In our society we are blanketed with the same dreams of working hard and becoming successful (whatever that means) when that might not mean the same for one person as it would the other. I can’t help but feel like I’m surrounded by the wrong crowd. Maybe I need to relocate to a place where people had no genuine career aspirations in life. A place where stress is seen as a poison and not a normal phase in life. Maybe some place like that doesn’t exist. I sure as hell won’t know if I stay here for the rest of my life.

-dfj

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