Advertising
Advertising

Notes to a Discontented Generation Y

Notes to a Discontented Generation Y

Well, I just turned 25 last Saturday.

It’s hard to believe I’ve already been working for 10 years. During that decade of “gainful” employment, I’ve gone through a huge transformation in thought regarding careers, passion and purpose.

My first job was as a YMCA camp counselor. I was 15, and I was excited to be getting a paycheck with my name on it. I thought a little money in my pocket would be the ticket to freedom, but within 2 weeks, I’d come to the realization that while I was really good at “pitching” myself during the interview, the work sucked. It was boring and tedious, and it showed. It’s pretty hard to stay enthusiastic while you’re fishing HotWheels out of the toilet.

I thought it was just the job that sucked. Everyone told me that my first job would.

Over the next 6-7 years, I moved through a series of other jobs hoping that one would really appeal to me. I worked at museums, retail, grocery stores and restaurants. I even worked at UPS. Yes. With the brown short-shorts.

Each one had some element that I liked, but within a few weeks, the same familiar feeling always crept back up.

Emptiness.

I always felt like I was literally an indentured servant working for pennies, with no end in sight.

The worst part about this servitude is feeling like you’re the only one experiencing the pain. I can’t tell you how many people I’d see who had been at their jobs for 20+ years, in a state of zombie-like compliant quasi-misery.

I imagine that this must be what it feels like to have a terminal disease that takes 20 years to fulfill its promise.

I specifically remember during my training at UPS, one of the assistant directors pointed to his boss endearingly and said “Richard hasn’t missed a day or called in sick in 27 years.”

He flashed a grin at me, then looked expectantly, waiting for me to be impressed—as if this was a good thing.

Advertising

I just remember thinking to myself “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”

I quit that job faster than Kim Kardashian quit on Kris Humphries.

At this point, you might be thinking “Sure Daniel, but those were all just JOBS. You’ve never had a real career. Once you get a career, things will be better.” At least that’s what my family told me. Just toe the line, Daniel. Just toe the line.

Eventually, I came to a much different conclusion. I came to the realization that I could job hop my whole life and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. I could go to college and get a degree like I was supposed to and hop around with that on higher-paying jobs (which adults like to call “careers” to make ourselves feel better), but in the end, the problem wasn’t with the jobs or the employers; it was with me.

I had the problem. It wasn’t about getting a different job, or a better PAYING job. It was about having a job period.

I was experiencing a major case of cognitive dissonance between what I wanted my life to be and the options I saw available.  Part of this was coming because at a very deep level, I was afraid to admit what I really wanted. As funny as it is to admit this in writing, I felt wrong or dirty. I felt ashamed of these feelings and above all, I was afraid. I was afraid that I would be called lazy, stupid, impractical, a “leech”, etc by people I cared about. I didn’t want to be ridiculed.

I’m not afraid anymore.

You know what I want? I don’t want to work. Like, not ever.

I don’t want to be forced to show up anywhere and do something for someone else, simply because if I don’t show up, I might not be able to feed myself or have a home.

I don’t want to go to any more mindless meetings with 20 other people who also don’t give a shit, and are just there because if they don’t show up—you guessed it—they might not be able to feed themselves.

I don’t want to have to ask “permission” to take a day or three if I’m sick.

I don’t want to have to kiss ass for years to get a raise, just so I can work harder on more stuff I don’t care about.

I don’t want to spend my days punching Excel spreadsheets, hoping that I’m making someone happy.

Advertising

You know what I hate? When people ask me “what do you do?”

What do I DO? I breathe, motherfucker. What do you do? What do I do? I don’t DO anything. I AM somebody. And since I am somebody, there’s no limit to what I can DO. I’ve never felt it was fair or accurate that our culture defines people by the narrow set of skills they use to generate income.

What does that have to do with anything?

What you do to make money is completely separate from how you spend your life or who you are as a person. Ironically, many people auction their entire lives away to get more money.

Am I the only one who sees the twisted contradiction here? If it were up to me, you know what I’d do? I’d spend my life traveling, learning languages, practicing martial arts, reading, programming, eating good food and (eventually) raising smart, open-eyed children.

I’d spend the time that I was supposed to be “working” to create something of value for others and use my creativity to leave a mark on the world. Isn’t this what we were made for?

All the other shit can suck it.

Look, it’s just you, me and this letter. We can cut the pretenses. Just be honest with me: if it were up to you, you wouldn’t go to work tomorrow, would you? Come on, I said be honest. Even if you “like” your job, wouldn’t you much rather be doing exactly what you want to do at the pace you want to do it?

Now, let me be clear: this whole idea of not working isn’t because you’re LAZY. Far from it, in fact. It’s because you see the Matrix for what it is, and realize the game being played around us. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t put effort into anything or dedicate our lives to a cause. I’m saying we should design our lives around a cause that we believe in, and stop lying to ourselves if what we’re doing isn’t something we’re passionate about.

Essentially we are trading something very real (life/time) for something very fake (money) and we’re always on the losing end since our time on this earth is finite but technically, the amount of money out there is infinite. We will always run out of time before the world runs out of money. As long as we carry on with the traditional mindset that time equals money, we will NEVER be free of the constraints placed upon us.

Now, 95% of people will say “But Daniel, you have to do SOMETHING for ‘work’. You’re going to be homeless. You need to get a job or something and then do stuff on your free time. That’s just life.”

False.

Advertising

This is a perfect example of being caught in what I call the “culture box” and having been in there for so long that you can’t even see the walls anymore. American culture dictates that work should be placed squarely at the center of your life, with any  personal creative interests only being pursued in your spare time.

There’s no reason why we have to work 40 hours, 5 days a week. That’s a structure that people with money have put in place so that people without money keep their heads down and don’t have time to ask too many questions.

Even the idea of retirement is a joke. Working until you’re 60. Saving, saving, saving and contributing to your 401k in hopes that eventually you can stop working and live the last 20ish years of your life in budgeted obsolescence, hoping to at least maintain a semblance of your standard of living in a dwindling middle class as your savings depletes by the day.

Is this what we’ve become? Is this the dream we’ve waited our entire lives for?

If this is all, please tell me now so that I can find a rope and save us all some trouble. If I knew that this was going to be the “apex” of my life, I’d just off myself right now. It sounds bittersweet at best.

I propose another way.

The key for us is to figure out how we can manipulate our environments to produce more of this imaginary currency without sacrificing the time (which is the real currency). That’s the game. Most of the time, we go at it the wrong way, trading it 1:1, as if a certain amount of money could equal even a fraction of your time. I can’t stress this enough. Time is LITERALLY priceless. It can’t be valued. “I make $30/hour”. So you’re saying your life, these next 60 full minutes of respiration, are worth $30 of imaginary bits? I’d say there’s literally no comparison between the two. It’s apples to potatoes. Completely different. We have to set systems in place to make the currency come out without the time going to waste – because before you know it, the time will be gone…and the currency…that was never even there to begin with.

We’ve seen what happens working purely for work’s sake, spending all your time making more money or obsessing about promotions or possessions. You’re ashamed to actually admit the things that you actually want to do. You’re afraid of being labeled “different”. God forbid someone thinks that you don’t have “work ethic”. This is one of my favorite cultural insults. It’s as if there were some morality attached to laboring on things that you don’t enjoy. Since when did capacity to suffer become an ethical issue?

What about this…

What if you were to make your life and the pursuits that interested you—traveling, learning, physical activities, creation, art, time with loved ones, whatever—the center(s) of your life and fit work in like a planet in orbit, with it’s sole purpose to fund and support the pursuits above?

How would your life and self-image change?

What would you REALLY do with your life?

Advertising

What if I told you that your presence wasn’t actually required to generate the resources that support you, and you were left to roam the earth freely?

Have you ever considered that in a completely digitized society this is a very real possibility?

Now, before you start pointing the finger and saying that it’s not possible to generate resources without being present, I want you to think about your boss’ boss (or perhaps THEIR boss). Somewhere up the chain, somebody is reaping the benefits of a system they put in place to generate resources without being present.

“But Daniel, I can’t manipulate my environment or set up any systems to make money. I HAVE to work.”

So let me get this straight: the Wright brothers—in their shed in rural South Carolina—can figure out how to bend a piece of metal and build a machine lighter than air that can fly across an ocean… but you can’t figure out how to make money flow to you? I’d suggest that you try harder.

The CEO of Walmart isn’t clocking in to make ends meet. That you can be sure of.

And the great thing about our generation is that you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 CEO to set this type of system up anymore. Many independent business owners have already realized this truth. Entrepreneurship is the key.

To be sure, this isn’t a popular way of thinking. And it’s even harder to imagine yourself living like this if you don’t have any friends or role models doing it. It is really hard to imagine that this is even possible. You go through a lot of the “Yeah, but that won’t work for ME” scenarios in your mind. Trust me, I feel you. I’ve been there. But as I’ve met more and more incredible people through my blog—people who are living that “fictional” life—I realize that it’s not only very possible, but that there’s a formula to creating these circumstances. It’s not luck, and it’s not voodoo or “positive affirmation”.

In the past 12 months I’ve gotten increasingly closer to this reality.

Are you one of the few who believes a better way is possible, not just for people in books or in the news, but for YOU?

Leave me a comment below and let me know.

 

-Daniel

More by this author

Worry Is a Vicious Murderer Hacking Elance: How I Made Over $20,000 in 4 Weeks Doing Web Design Notes to a Discontented Generation Y 3 Dumbass Start-up Mistakes That You’re Probably Making

Trending in Communication

1 Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It 2 What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It) 3 How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life 4 What Will Happen When You Surround Yourself With Positive People? 5 How to Surround Yourself With Positive People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

Advertising

1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

Advertising

If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

Advertising

6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

Advertising

In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

Read Next