The world thinks it needs more entrepreneurs and work-zombies when, in fact, each and every one of us needs to feel a firm grip creep over our shoulder and a breath tickle our ear as it whispers in a tranquil voice, “Shit happens, and sometimes it’s loose, green and foul-smelling, but it’ll pass, and you’ll be fine.”
An acquaintance of mine starved herself until she became a living replica of Victoria from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, so let’s name her Victoria. I once tried to seduce her into eating a slice of pepperoni pizza, but I failed. I asked why she did that to herself, and her response was, “Makes me feel beautiful.” Seriously? I stuffed my face into a slice of pizza.
“Why do you work 24/7?” She asked, exaggerating, of course.
“Makes me feel fulfilled and successful.”
“But are you?”
I never shared any food with her after that day in the hopes that she’d starve herself to death.
The fashion world glamorizes eating disorders and implicitly suggests food is the heartthrob of the ugly… and the business world isn’t much different. It gives a badge of honor to the busiest zombie in the room, glamorizes working late hours every day and encourages skipping breakfast for the sake of improving profit.
“I’m busy” has become the new “I’m super cool.”
This kind of pressure is the main reason behind working disorders. Most of us wish to fit into the ‘cool’ category. You find yourself obliged to learn fast, advance quickly, make no mistakes, work late, play it safe or take a risk you’re not excited about, give up your hobbies and social life, abide by rules you couldn’t give a damn about, follow instructions that make no sense to you and put up with the lousiest of morons.
If, God forbid, anything goes wrong—and it sure will, there is no one to blame but yourself. You are deemed a troublemaker if you reported sexual harassment at the workplace. You are deemed a failure if you failed at some assignment. You are deemed reckless if you took a leap of faith into the unknown in quest of better opportunities.
They will call you careless when you fall behind because you are too stressed and overworked to concentrate any longer. They will call you aggressive because you refuse to be treated poorly. You are a real threat because you don’t play dirty games and prefer to be straightforward.
We wake up every day to a newsfeed jam-packed with success recipes. The people who mostly get celebrated by the media are either the ones who make big bucks—regardless of how they’re making it—or those who spend long days and nights working their fingers to the bones.
“10 Things Successful People Do in the Morning”, “Five Success Hacks from Google Goddesses”, “The Color Successful People Choose to Wear”, “Six Dishes Successful Women Prepare Before Bed” and the list goes on. Some of these articles are quite inspiring, but many others are just lame and pathetically hunting for clicks.
These pieces sometimes—if not most of the time—convey the message that we’re not enough and need to mimic certain folk in order to be successful.
This zombie show must stop.
Workaholics need rehab and not applause, but who would help them? Definitely not other workaholics. I was one of them once and I’m still dealing with the aftermath, so by no means am I accepting anyone telling me I’m not successful just because I forgot to make my bed this morning.
The world does not need more entrepreneurs, sales executives, physicians, lawyers, architects and computer programmers. We also don’t need more egotists who claim to be ‘influencers’ when many of them are concerned with nothing beyond being in the limelight and dictating us how to live our lives.
We need those who wish to share their experience and speak to us just because they care. We need those who listen without ever attempting to judge or lecture us. We need those who believe in us just because they do. We need those who help us without having agendas.
The world is craving for kindness and empathy. We all need to be understood, forgiven and appreciated.
How is this to be achieved? Start with yourself. Be kind to yourself and to everyone around you. Try to understand yourself and then move to trying to understand others even if they were a$$holes. Quit criticizing yourself and remember that the seppuku you perform every time you fall short of achieving something is not honorable at all. It is stupid and anti-self-love. Practice empathy with your poor soul first, or else you won’t be able to show empathy to others.
Success is something only you can define. Don’t let anyone bully you into being something you’re not passionate about. A corporate job makes you happy and fulfilled? No need to be bullied into starting your own business. You love your easy work hours that give you more time to tend your garden and go out with your family? Then be it. You shouldn’t be tormented to work you’re a$$ off tonight when you prefer to have a thoughtful chat with your child.
Entrepreneurship is good for the economy, and I personally plan on starting my own business, but how will entrepreneurs survive this cruel world without a touch of genuine love and without a deep conversation with a loyal friend?
We do need the stranger who gladly listens and shows sympathy, the elder who makes us a hot drink and rubs our back when the sky above our heads seems to shatter, the friend who cusses with us and slams everyone who did us wrong without giving it a second thought, the writer who shares their experiences for us to know we’re not alone, the colleague who acts like a clown when they see tears trapped in our eyes, the workmate who offers us a cigarette when we seem too quiet, the frenemy who gives us a pep talk when we need it most, the parent who doesn’t say “I told you so” when we get in trouble because we refused to take their advice, the buddy who shared their insecurities with us to make us feel good about ourselves and the friend who held our hand when we needed it most and said, “Hang in there.”
Well, we also need more attractive men with a good sense of humor… but don’t tell anyone I said this.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
– David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World.
Remember that to have left one person feeling and doing better today is to have succeeded.