I’ve spent most of my life in one system or another. As a child, I was subjected to the tacitly nationalized public school system, indoctrinated in the ways of putting the group before myself and taught that conforming to the rules is more important than valuing our freedom. When I spent more than a decade in military service, I was proud of my contribution to the nation, and I still am, but it was yet another system designed to teach me obedience over individuality. Almost all of my life has been spent in some form of structured thought process.
After so many years living in structures that laid out what I was supposed to do and when I was supposed to do it, I’ve found myself quite lost since leaving the military. There is an underlying desire to find some way to become independent of the resources of others and do something on my own to make money, but no matter how hard I think about it or what ideas might float across my brain, nothing ever sticks. I’m stuck back in that world of waiting for someone to tell me what I should be doing.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to just do something that is uniquely mine. I’d love it if I could somehow turn it into a career, but the odds of that happening are infinitesimally small and if I made that the motivation for coming back to write every day I’d never have lasted as long as I have. Most people fail within the first month; I’ve been writing for for nearly seven. It is the one thing I have that is fully mine to control with no authoritative input from anyone else. It is the only real creative outlet I have.
The problem is that I desperately want to figure out a way to move my professional life into a similar configuration. I have never been happy working for someone else, abiding by their schedules and conforming to their way of doing things. My time in the military was successful, but I imagine if you sat down and talked to anyone I served with they would tell you I had a bit of an attitude problem. Military structure and I never truly got along very well. I tend to think my way is better.
The issue for me is that for three quarters of my life I was immersed in a system that robbed me of my ability to think outside the box. There is a part of me that yearns to go off on my own and start some kind of business, but the practical and indoctrinated part of me just holds me back. Part of it is that I simply haven’t found anything that piques my interest enough to put in the kind of effort required to make it successful; most of it is just a lack of belief that it could ever work out. Despite my desire for freedom, the primitive part of me that wants to feel secure struggles to work without the perceived safety net of steady income.
Of course, we can rationally understand that there is no such thing as truly steady income. At any time we can lose our job for any number of reasons, from downsizing to making a mistake or simply from the company we work for going out of business. There is no sane reason to continue submitting to system of false security, but somehow most of us still seem to want to do it. Despite the fact that the odds are even either way, we still convince ourselves that we have a better chance of survival by being part of a larger group.
This makes sense from a biological standpoint. Larger tribes had greater odds of success back when we had to fight each other for resources all the time. Safety in numbers was a real thing during those times, and you were crazy to try to survive on your own. It was through tribal loyalty and conforming to the expectations of others that we ensured our mutual survival and prosperity.
This just isn’t the case anymore; at least not from a standpoint of moving ourselves forward. Innovation happens when someone decides to go do their own thing and figure out something new. A popular definition of the word “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and somehow expecting a different result. Progress is defined by doing something different. Conforming to the tribe causes stagnation. There needs to be a willingness to take a risk on something new.
I understand all this, and in my head I believe it. There is a large part of me that knows that if I just took a step out there and started doing something, it would likely succeed because I am a very capable person and I take great pride in doing things well. I am a self-starting person who becomes very particular and demanding of something when it is something I’ve decided is important to me. Endless hours have been spent on tiny details for things that I have a serious interest in simply because it was something that was able to hold my attention. I yearn for a career that grabs me by the belt.
Therein lies the core issue. My problem isn’t a lack of confidence in myself, it’s a lack of interest in anything with a serious chance for profit. Unfortunately, most people aren’t able to jump into fields of work where their true interests lie. For you to earn any kind of living, you have to produce something that is useful enough to others for them to pay for it, and I haven’t come across anything yet that pays decent money and still grabs my attention. It’s all just a grind to me.
I’m grateful to live in a place where all I have to worry about is grindy work and that basic survival isn’t something I really have to think about much. There are much worse situations to be in and I certainly recognize that. However, what many people don’t understand is the very real needs we have the extend beyond just finding a way keep breathing. There are levels of existence, and once you’ve met the needs of one you are automatically drawn into seeking ways to satisfy the next. We aren’t made to be satisfied with what we have; there’s always something better.
This blog is one avenue I’m taking to try to satisfy that next level of need. My basic survival has never really been an issue, but I’ve never been in a place where higher values have been truly satisfied. I continue to hope that I can take this thing I’m doing and turn it into something more, but the indoctrination of the system that has dominated most of my life continues to tell me it’s not going to go anywhere. The fight for me is to continue doing it anyway despite the odds, hoping that my efforts eventually yield the rewards I’ve always sought.
May it be a small inspiration for others.
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