The Pursuit of Happiness in a FunEmployment World
The pursuit of happiness is hard. For most, it’s a moving target. There is a lucky few that hit the bullseye that sustains happiness their whole life through. And even then, there are moments where the grass looks greener on the other side.
For many, our careers can be all-consuming and therefore exert significant gravitational pull on one’s happiness. It’s the purpose threaded through our identity and becomes hard to change the older you get. But it happens. Sometimes you wake up and realize that you’re not happy anymore with your career. Could be a fleeting feeling brought on by a particularly challenging day, but sometimes it doesn’t go away.
The future in which we currently live, full of technological advances, is a weird place to be jobless or in transition. We’ve entered a time where going to college to get a degree doesn’t necessarily make getting a job on your desired career path a sure thing. Powerful forces are at work, working for and against you. Powerful forces like nepotism, experience, credentials. Oh and don’t forget, “right place, right time."
On the bright side of things, with smartphones, a whole new generation of independent contractors has been born through ride share apps and the like. Websites like Etsy and Instagram make it easier than ever to market your own creations. Self-employment never looked so cute and realistically attainable.
But on the dark side, there is more automation than ever, robots replacing people, for better or worse. Nearly every job opportunity is an online application portal. It can be so hard to distinguish yourself from the masses. And even if your ambition has lead you to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure like your own Etsy store, everyone is plugged into an ever-flowing feed of info, so it’s so easy to get lost in the wash.
We all want to be the kind of person that follows our dreams, hustling, pursuing happiness despite the all-consuming grind to keep our bellies full and our bill collectors at bay. But who’s to say that following your dreams is not also the grind? Very rarely does shit just fall in your lap.
Opportunities present themselves and you get your hopes up, quickly reminding yourself not to. You stay the course. You cross your fingers. You try to remain optimistic as this particular path veers around bends. You can’t quite see where it’s all headed. You can’t quite be sure it’s not a dead-end. So how long do you wait? How long do you scrape together pennies and eat peanut butter right from the jar to hold out for a dream?
The reality is people get passed over for entry level positions because they require five years experience. That old chestnut. You mutter to yourself, “How am I going to get five years experience?” An unpaid internship? Volunteering? Sure. But for how long?
Blowing smoke up someone’s ass can make that person feel good for only a short while because eventually it starts to burn.
The pursuit of happiness is inextricably wrapped up in the inevitable that sometimes you will fail in your pursuit. The pursuit of happiness often comes with great sadness and obstacles you encounter trying to attain your dream. But as Americans, we are at least given the hope that we can pursue something resembling happiness. It is so engrained in the fabric of our country that we mostly take for granted our freedom to make these choices.
So if you’re struggling to choose your path or struggling to keep the faith that there is in fact something around the bend, know that I feel for you more than you know. Take comfort in the fact that I know plenty of people pushing 60 that still don’t have it figured out yet. And maybe we never really do.
Most of life is the pursuit and if you’re lucky, you figure out how to stop that moving target with a decade or two left in your life to enjoy the bullseye.