Monday, November 14, 2011
Happiness. You Know It Don't Come Easy.
I'm writing today because I've noticed a lot of frustration from my generation. Frustration with the system. Frustration with parents. Frustration with government, with school, with work. I'm going to try to convince you to turn this frustration into desire. Into motivation.
Things have changed. When we were young, (and this is true in my case especially) my parents hammered into my head that I have to go to college to be successful. Now, successful they don't define as happy, sadly. They define it as being "comfortable." From now on, I'll refer to it as settling. Because that's exactly what it is. It's not that my parents don't care about me. It's not that they don't want me to be happy. That's not it at all. They just want me to go to college, get a decent job, make decent money, and settle down with a wife and two kids and a white picket fence around a decent house. Maybe that's exaggerated, but you get the idea. My question is...why is this what we're shooting for? I understand some people want security. Some people need security, more precisely. And some need comfort. That's fine. But for all too many in my generation, I think the sad reality is that you end up going to college for some degree you hate or don't even want to be in to get a job that doesn't fulfill you, for a decent paycheck at the end of the week.
Why has this become the new norm? I certainly hope things don't continue in this fashion. The reality is, if you don't become that dream, it's entirely okay. If you make enough so that you're only comfortable but you end up doing something you really love, it's okay. The cliche is: If you love what you do, you won't work a day in your life. It's cliche, but it's absolutely true.
We were force-fed this idea that we need to go to college to get a job, and now the sad part is, since everyone went to college, college degrees aren't all that anymore. When our parents were getting thinking about work, a college degree DID make a huge difference. In 1950, less than 10% of adults had bachelor's degrees. People were less mobile then, and more likely to stay in the town which they were born. That meant more limited options. So a bachelor's degree put you ahead.
Today, your $30,000-$100,000 bachelor's degree doesn't guarantee you anything in your field after you get out. Possibly ever. And now 40% of people with degrees now end up settling for a job that requires no degree at all.
The good news? The world has changed. The world has globalized. This may not be good for our country, as manufacturing has been moved out to any other country where wages are cheaper, but it can be good for you. Which means it could eventually be good for our country. You see, it's easier to learn something now if you want to. It's easier to invest in a skill. A skill that makes you very appealing to people. The internet and social media are incredible tools that were simply handed to our generation, the only thing you have to figure out is how to use them correctly. Since the world is becoming interconnected in so many fashions, it's not that tough to put yourself out on the marketplace anymore. You can advertise yourself from the comfort of your computer, on YOUR time schedule. And if you can't help someone who needs some work done, maybe you know someone who can help. Who has skills in that area. Since you're constantly getting socially connected with other people all across the country and the world, you can be seen more of a producer, as a person who gets things done-not just someone who takes what they can get.
So you may be thinking, "But my skill has nothing to do with technology." So what? Let's say you're an auto mechanic. The internet is free advertising for your mechanic shop. Let's say you set up a Twitter account where you advertise some deals for your shop occasionally. (Shameless plug: follow me on Twitter!) Then you set up a Facebook where people can connect to you and ask you questions through your Facebook. You post links on Reddit and Digg to these accounts. All these means of social media go to benefit YOU. Maybe it doesn't happen right away, but once people find out that you do good work, your skill benefits them, etc. then they will do the work for you...simply by sharing through their walls, or retweeting your advertisement, or upvoting whatever you have to say on Reddit. This all goes to help you.
So don't be headstrong about charging into a college degree. Most parents will frown when I say this, but school isn't for everyone. Some people have plenty to offer without investing $100,000 in some papers that they might never have a job for. Read books. Get connected. Nurture a skill, and make yourself available. And don't be frustrated. Because you can always change, and you can always make a change. Why not start today?