Updated: May 16, 2021
I want you to close your eyes (after you read this paragraph of course haha) and imagine what dream(s) you are working towards? What are the things that you have in your “when I have money” Pinterest lists? Is it to travel the world while flying first class? Is it to be able to buy yourself those nice pair of shoes that you’ve had your eye on but have kept it on your wishlist because it’s the practical thing to do (I know I have a ton on my “if I had money” shopping list on Pinterest).
Ok, now open your eyes. Did you find that you have a lot of dreams? Me too. Over these past few years, I have really been having a spiritual awakening if you want to call it that. Or really more of a pondering on “why the fuck do we do things the way we are always told?”, particularly in regards to the path we are told we have to take in order to achieve success.
If you’re just joining me now on this journey, welcome :) I recently just left my full time job as a Physical Therapist due to burn out. I won’t say what company it was because the point is not to point out the flaws of the system I was working in, but rather to point out the flaws in how our society teaches what defines success and how to achieve it. I believe the system is broken and this this broken record has led to the staggering stat from a poll performed by Gallup in 2019 stating that 85% of people are unhappy in their current jobs. Why is this important? Well it is important because we spend majority of our lives in our 9-5 setting (often working overtime I might add…). If we are unhappy in this setting it bleeds into so many other aspects of our lives whether we know it or not. I have experienced it first hand unfortunately and have seen how my unhappiness at my job, bled into my relationship with my family and my husband.
Reading this stat made me want to dig a bit deeper. If that many people were unhappy with their jobs was there some kind of stat that could show the emotional toll had to show some sort of possible correlation to how much unhappiness in our jobs bleeds into other aspects of our life? I did some further research and found that there has been a rise in anxiety and depression rates even prior to covid in the US. On the CDC and ADAA they found the following to be true:
9.7% of our youth are diagnosed with clinical depression disorder, 60% of this number receive treatment and only 27% of the people who receive treatment do it consistently
Suicidal ideation has increased by .15% or 460,000 people (2017-2018)
The rate of anxiety disorders in adults in the US has risen to 31.6%
The list can go on and these stats continue to rise each year which is a major indication of how that broken record might be doing more damage than good in the long term where we live in a world where majority of the population feels unhappy, depressed, anxious and just straight up burnt out in their jobs and every day life.
Success by definition in the Oxford Dictionary is “The Accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. Although that definition may seem straight forward is it really? I mean what is the aim? What is the purpose? What and who defines that purpose? How are we supposed to know that we have reached our "aim or purpose"? Honestly, the definition is really a never-ending moving target. We are basically living out a modern story of Sisyphus who for the rest of his life rolls a bolder up a hill in Hades only for it roll all the way back down and start over. We are no different. We have been told that to get to the top we have to put in the work. We have to grind, hustle, make sacrifices, work hard. It all means the same thing. Basically we are told that the only path to success is to work harder than everyone else, go to college, which will lead to being able to get a good and stable job that allows you to live "comfortably". Any deviation from this path is not realistic.
When I decided to quit, I was told all of the following exact quotes:
But you worked so hard for your degree, why would you quit?
You will never find a perfect job, so you have to be willing to accept that or create your own company
You always think it is greener on the other side, but that isn’t always true
Doing your own business is a lot of hard work and you don’t get paid for your work unless you really make it
You are gave up a stable job to become an artist? You won't make that much money on just cookies...
Now my “why the fuck is there only one way to do things?” question comes back into the picture. We live in a time where the options to be what you want, do what you want are endless! We have so much technology at our fingertips to learn new things, talk to people from all over the world and yet we are still believing that so binary? It is either I achieve ________(fill in the blank) or I fail. We feel so much insurmountable pressure to achieve whatever moving target we think we need to reach because we were told that is the target we are shooting for, even if it costs us our own wellbeing.. Why?
I want to challenge you to ask yourself the same questions. What have you been told defines success? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are in the comments. I’m excited to hear from you guys. And until then, I’ll talk to you all next Monday! :)
References and Resources (I am by no means a mental health expert, but these are great to learn and also resources to find professional help in your local area)