I’ve spent most of my life inside of systems. While most people do end up interacting with the systems of our society to one degree or another, I am an example of someone who has been shaped from the ground up not by critical thought, but by the repetitious impaction of specific ideologies. From nearly two decades spent in primary and secondary education, to more than another decade in military service, the bulk of my life has consisted of participating in organizations designed to produce something very specific: people who will conform to what is considered “normal”. It is no wonder then that here at the start of the second half of my life, I have no idea what to do.
The core problem for me is that I never had a real chance to go through the experimentation phase of life that we’re all supposed to experience in order to figure out what our purpose in life is. The correct way for people to grow and learn about themselves is to try out different things in our early years when success or failure aren’t as relevant as they are later on in life. It’s acceptable to make mistakes when you’re young because you haven’t truly invested in anything yet. The cost of failure just isn’t as high as it is once you’ve established yourself.
This is where I find myself now: trapped in an endless cycle of desire versus practicality. After many years of just getting through life as best I can, there is no real direction in my life. I have no goal or purpose aside from just paying the bills. There is no work I can do that will provide me with the sense of purpose or progression that all men crave because I have no means of getting out there to try something new. My fully established life has cornered me into this small box of singular, or perhaps non-existent, opportunities.
I’ve spent this last decade of my life twiddling my thumbs in construction administration positions, not because I enjoy the work, but because it has been the only solid opportunities that have presented themselves to me. For that entire time, I have felt like a slave working for masters who care nothing about the work I actually do so long as they have someone there to do it. I’m there as a convenience so that I can do the work they don’t want to do themselves. It is extremely difficult to take pride in that kind of thing.
Despite my hatred for continuing to work for other people who don’t really value my contribution, I find myself unable to break free from the cycle. I was never able to develop that innovative or adventurous spirit that allows human beings to come up with creative ways to solve complex problems. Years of conformity to systems has eroded my ability to think outside of those constrictive boxes that cram us into the caricature of what society has decided human beings are supposed to be.
Though I am aware of the slave mentality I possess, I have come to the horrific realization that I just don’t have the courage to make a genuine effort to break free of it. I tell myself I have responsibilities and I can’t afford to just go take a huge risk trying to make something happen for myself. A part of me tries to convince myself I could go start my own business, but then I ask myself what business could I actually do? Another part of me thinks I should start making videos about the topics I discuss here on my blog to expand my online presence, but then I wonder who the heck is going to even listen to me, much less in a way that makes me money. Or perhaps I could just throw caution to the wind and buy that sailboat I always wanted and go sail the world, but how could I possibly sustain that?
The reality is that any or all of these things are possible. People do them all the time. One of my favorite YouTube channels is SV Delos, and they figured out a way to turn their passion for adventure into a thriving business. Thousands of people start small businesses every day, and though most of them end up failing, those with the persistence to keep trying eventually succeed. And how many YouTube influencers are out there making good money by just posting videos online?
This is the crime of systems that demand conformity. When I was young I had a sense of creativity that allowed me to imagine so many possibilities outside of what was simply available to me at the time. After decades of immersion in government programs designed to strip away individuality, I find myself unable to think in a way that allows me to even imagine myself actually doing something I think is amazing, much less actually take the risk of going for it. I’ve been told my whole life that I have to be like everyone else, and that I’m responsible for more than just what I want. The unique part of me has been murdered by conformity.
If there is any message that we should be shouting from the rooftops in this insane age of increasing social control, it should be that human beings are not robots to be programmed, but spirits who should be encouraged to aim for the stars. Perhaps the biggest sin one person can make against another is stealing away their purpose, and our society seems built on that sin. The most inspirational thing we can imagine is someone who has found their purpose in life. It is perhaps the one thing we want most in life.
I only regret I can’t find the courage to seek out my own dreams.