You Need To Fall Out of Love With Misery to Make Things Better
Why are you doing things you despise?
I intentionally threw myself into corporate hell.
I looked around the board room. The people around me were omens from the future. They were in their late 30s and early 40s yet already showed signs of advanced aging.
They had bags under their eyes. Their faces were drained from stress. Above all, they were never looked happy.
Some days, I thought, if I hear one more person say, “synergy” or “streamline operations”, I’m going to combust.
But I rode it out. Each day bled into the next. I sat in the same cubicle, sinking lower and lower into my chair.
I should have left sooner. But, for a bunch of reasons I never articulated, I stayed. My gluttony for punishment knew no bounds. I threw out the safe word. I took my lashing with a smile.
Just like you. Until things changed.
You love being unhealthy.
Our irritability, energy spikes, depression, and high blood pressure, have become normalized. People don’t even know what it’s like to feel healthy.
If for one week, you cut the junk, preservatives, caffeine, candy, fast food, most of you would be shocked at how good you’d feel.
My uncle was a surgeon. He often marveled at how different the “parts” inside us looked. Children’s insides looked like new car engines. With adults? He could tell who’d been trashing their body. Organs don’t lie.
Comedian George Carlin had a great bit about how your only real priority in life is “not dying”. Everything else is noise. Just don’t die. Seems basic right?
Yet, not only do we give ourselves permission to die, we rather enjoy it, just as long as it’s stretched out over years. Small transgressions are our favorite form of self-sabotage. It’s how affairs start, how diets crash, and how your liver slowly resembles a battle-worn pirate.
You love it.
You could be happy and healthy.
I don’t have a long list of talents but while in school I always had this knack for math. I could study less than other people and get good grades.
Meanwhile, I loved English and writing. But I made my teacher want to jump off a bridge. My grammar sucked. My vocabulary was weak. I couldn’t follow directions.
So fate steered me the other way. It told me to know my role.
Fast forward 20 years, here I was doing excel charts, financial analysis, and heavy quant stuff. I was ordering delivery food every day, stressed out of my mind.
But I wasn’t fully present. This small part of me was dreaming. Like a kid in grade school, these dreams swirled in the back of my mind. I saw all these interesting ideas to write about. Everything was about surviving the job and getting home to write. It was an affair that never died.
Everyone else was just as miserable. Their smiles were so forced. Were they cheating too? What are they going home to? Does their boss know?
Regardless, we kept coming back. We marched through the neon parking lot, our faces defeated, iron smiles forged across our jaws.
Idealism gave us impossible dreams. Commercials told us we had problems and sold us hollow solutions. We are left with more problems and unfulfilled dreams. But we keep going. Why? Because we’re all masochists.
Everything in our life is in contrast. What the other guy makes. How pretty the lady on Instagram is.
Commercialism has hijacked our survival instinct. We claw to get more.
And you love it. You love to inflame your life with feelings of mediocrity.
Stealing joy is mankind’s favorite passion.
You’ll enjoy misery until you don’t.
I knew it was time. It had to end. I paced around the parking lot for a full hour, ducking an extremely important meeting.
I couldn’t even get to my boss's desk. I was stuck in orbit. I knew how significant it all was. Finally, I willed my body forward. I sat down. And said, “I’m leaving.”
She said, “What do mean you’re leaving?”
“I’m leaving as in this is my 2-weeks notice.”
I kept my intentions somewhat vague. We talked briefly.
She said, “Where are you going?”
I said, “Nowhere.”
I broke the cycle and became a writer. It was terrifying. I thought my life was going to end. Today? I couldn’t be happier. I can’t believe how accustomed I’d become to misery. The safety and certainty I craved had come at such a steep price.
I wasn’t alone. Others escaped. My, notably, straight male friend runs a bustling nail salon. My other friend is now a freelance legal consultant. There are ways.
My journey was a slow realization that I needed to start pulling the needle out of my arm. I was addicted to safety.
However, drastic action, like crash diets, is rarely the solution. I wrote at night. I slowly cleaned up my diet. When it was time, I was ready.
I was tired of enjoying misery.
You could be happy.
Unfortunately, I worry that these words will be lost upon most who need them.
You’ll keep the job because it feels safe just as you eat the burger because it tastes good.
You’ll put up with your boss for the same reason you put up with your bad partner: perceived necessity.
You love being miserable. You don’t think you do. But you do. It’s easy. It’s convenient. You’ll have lots of company.
I reckon if is happiness were a set of organs, for most of us, they’d look much the same as those in our bodies: banged up, bruised, scarred.
But, just as organs have a profound ability to heal themselves, so does our state of mind. I feel amazing. I am so happy. I chose the right pill.
I would’ve died in a cubicle if I hadn’t made the scariest change of my life.
People don’t even know what happiness feels like anymore. The term has been twisted and diluted.
Many of you have been nodding “no, no, no” to everything I’ve said. You insist, “No I’m happy.”
Then why do you still have a job you hate? Or a relationship that sucks?