June 6, 2019•1,136 words
I actually started this post yesterday, intending to also post it yesterday. However, I found myself staring at a blinking cursor throughout the day. I guess it could be that I had nothing to say or share. If anybody knows me, they'd know that to be a very rare occasion.
But, there I was, sitting and staring at a blinking cursor, with my mind blank. I was going to write down some of my frustrations about work. But after reading article after article about shitty bosses and toxic leadership styles, I figured there'd be no benefit except to rile me up and frustrate me even more.
It appears that shitty managers, and even shittier management styles are an infection that's firmly embedded in the American business landscape, and won't disappear anytime soon. And as such, I'll never be able to escape it. Therefore, I've got two options. Embrace the suck, or figure out a new way to make my money, i.e., freelancing.
Now, when it comes to freelancing, I'm not sure what's really stopping me. I mean, so much of what I do now, I could certainly do as a hired gun at just about any organization without having to actually be their employee.
I think I still suffer from impostor syndrome. Perhaps that's what's crippling me. Or, could it be a fear of success? Some might think, "what's the problem? You try, you succeed, DONE!"
But, I don't think it's that simple. Success means that you're only as good as your last thing; gig, client, engagement, work product, etc. So, there's a fair amount of stress to keep up the standard others would be used to seeing and receiving from me. Perhaps even getting spoiled with such, and expecting better and better as time goes on.
Otherwise, "the usual", no matter what high quality it may posses, is still the usual.
I don't want to always have to top myself. I remember being that guy who was all about that, but now I'm older and tired from having done that my whole life. Thing is, by doing that my whole life, I did it because I wanted approval from others.
My then wife, her parents (who never liked me no matter how good I did), my extended family... I wanted to be the "successful" one in my family. And, I wanted my ex-wife to stop bitching at me for not making enough money, to where I could slow down and take it easy for a bit.
But then, when I worked the long hours to try to get noticed so that I could receive the bonuses and promotions, my ex would then bitch about how I'm never home to help out with the kids and the household chores.
So then, I was really in a hurry to try to be "successful" so that I could stop the nagging in two very opposite sides of the spectrum. I also wanted to be the envy of the family. So shallow, I know. I was young, naive, and oh so stupid back then.
And then, a few things happened, or rather, didn't happen.
I never got the promotions, and maybe a bonus here or there, but not enough to be considered as taking my career to the next level. I was always good enough to be the worker bee, maybe with some responsibility sprinkled in here and there, but never good enough to actually be in management.
That would all change when I got my sergeant stripes in the Army and helped hold together a large platoon of combat engineers in a theater of war. But that's a story for another day.
So, in essence, I'm much older, wiser, and happier being married to someone who actually supports me instead of tears me down for not being "enough". I look back and see how much time I've wasted trying to get ahead in the socially traditional sense.
From that lens, hard work seems like a sucker's bet. Sure, employers will let you run yourself into the ground and not say a thing. In fact, they'll reward you just enough so that you keep doing it. Then, when you've given it everything, and you've got absolutely nothing left, boom, you're out.
Granted, I really didn't have a definition of "success" I could use as a measurement when I was working so hard. Well, actually, I did. I wanted to be an IT director or vice president of an established organization by the age of 30.
By that time I would have had 12 years of experience in my chosen field. This was also around Y2K, and tech careers were paying big. But, again, worker bee, not really looked at as being suited for management.
Perhaps these are the raw memories of my past that are keeping me from wanting to spend the second half of my life chasing after the same leprechaun, only to find there is no pot of gold to be had. At least not for me.
Coming back to a point of center, I do make a good living. I do have everything I could want, and I don't really want more. The thing is, as a male in a western society, my job is to provide. And that means that just like a shark, I can never stop swimming.
This is why I'm striving for minimalism, and hoping my wife catches on to it as well. I don't want so much stuff. I don't need so much stuff. And I don't want to want so much stuff. And I wish the same especially for my wife.
I love her and want her to be happy, but material things aren't the key to that. She was born and raised to be a consumer by her single mother, also a born and bred consumer. So, I don't blame my wife, I just wish there was a point where we could both say at the same time, "No thanks, we're good. We don't need any more stuff."
So, I think the real blocker to my success is the fact that being a success means a lot more work. Wanting to be a success means a lot more work. No matter which way I turn, if I want to be anything, it means more work.
Normally I'd go along with that. And normally I'd see that as the natural order of things, but it's really not for me anymore. I want to be content, I want to be free of schedules and obligations, and pursue my passions, however fleeting.
Some might call that death and say it's only possible in the afterlife, but I'd like it to be here in life. In any case, I think I just solved the riddle to why I might be scared of success.